After liposuction (or not), bank your fat for a rainy day

September 15, 2011

Establish a 401K for your face; bank now, inject later.
Establish a 401K for your face; bank now, inject later.

Interest rates are so low that you might as well stuff your money in your mattress. But there is something you can take to the bank for a rainy day: your fat cells. The big excitement now about fat as a cosmetic filler is that it contains stem cells, i.e., skin rejuvenating properties. For the woman who thinks ahead, this is a 401K for the face.

According to the September issue of Bazaar, some plastic surgeons are advising patients to put their fat on ice, especially following liposuction. At BioLife Cell Bank in Dallas, the very first fat bank in the U.S., “the number of patients banking their fat has doubled every three months since late last year.”

Benefits of your own fat tissue compared with synthetic injectables, such as Restylane and Juvederm, are that while your fat provides an instant fill in cheeks, under eye hollows and nasolabial folds, you also receive your own stem cells, which are believed to enhance blood flow and collagen growth.

It is ideal to remove fat when you’re younger (20s, 30s, or 40s) because stem cells are said to be less potent when you’re in your 50s and 60s. You can bank fat for at least 20 years. So if you bank your fat when you’re 30, you can inject it at age 45 when your face begins to hollow out. In the past, liposuction changed the quality of the fat, making autologous fat injections unreliable. Now, more advanced liposuction techniques, such as Vaser and Body-Jet, use gentler methods, breaking the fat into tiny particles before suctioning it out with a low pressure vacuum.

If you don’t need liposuction, your plastic surgeon can easily remove 10 or 12 ounces of fat, about the size of a soda can, from your buttocks or thighs. This will give you enough face filler for the rest of your life. The procedure does not hurt, takes an hour and costs $2,500 and up. Your fat is then shipped to the bank, stamped with a barcode for identification, and preserved in liquid-nitrogen vapor. Similar to sperm storage, this will cost you about $1,700 for the first year and $200 a year afterwards.

When you’re ready to fill some wrinkles or hollows, a portion of your fat and stem cells is separated and recombined, placed in a syringe and shipped to your doctor’s office via Fed Ex for about $2,500. According to the Bazaar article, this may sound pricey, but if you reinject the fat in five years, costs would roughly be the same as what you’d pay for twice-yearly Restylane and Juvederm injections over the same time period. 


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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