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Most health articles today focus on the harmful effects of excess fat and on ways to get rid of it. While this problem is on the increase, in future, fat tissue is also going to be put to good use. Researchers have already successfully used fat tissue as a source of stem cells (Stem cells can be made to differentiate into other types of specialized cells) in patients requiring bone marrow transplantation. Fat can also be put to good use as a soft filler material to correct various deformities. This was recently done successfully in the Welcare hospital in Dubai but for a very unusual reason.

Dr. Mohan Rangaswamy, the consultant Plastic surgeon at the Welcare hospital said that the patient in question had suffered from a disease affecting his ulnar nerve (one of the major nerves of the hand) which resulted in his right hand getting shrunken and deformed. Although his hand now functioned well after treatment of the nerve problem, the deformity persisted. This affected him psychologically. Dr. Mohan decided to use the new technique of fat graft transplantation to fill out the contours of his hand. About 30 ml of purified fat from his abdomen was used to correct the ‘skin and bones’ appearance of the hand in an operation lasting 2 hours. After surgery, now the hand looks almost normal. This has given a tremendous psychological boost to the patient.

Speaking about the technique Dr. Mohan mentions that fat grafting has been around for a long time but the results used to be unpredictable;so much so that experts disagreed whether it really works or not. The trouble was that fat tissue is very delicate and the older ways of transplanting it resulted in injury in many cases leading to failure. Modern techniques pioneered by Dr. Coleman in the US use gentle techniques of harvest and purification giving predictable and permanent results. This type of surgery is now available at the Welcare and can be used to augment and enhance many facial features like lips, chin and cheeks. It can give more youthful and harmonious proportions to the face. Further indications include correcting depressed scars and improving the hollow cheeks caused by overactive acne in youth.

Fat grafting or Lipostructure as he prefers to call it, is in effect re-sculpting of facial tissues using fat tissue. It is time consuming and requires meticulous technique but can be done under extended local anesthesia says Dr. Mohan. The results can be very gratifying. More recently he has started using a product extracted from the patient’s own blood called PRP mixed with fat cells to do the grafting. This gives improved results with less bruising.

On a more humorous note he said that only the patient’s own fat will work and unfortunately as yet he cannot take fat from an obese person and give it to her skinny friend!