Never mind banking your money, the next trend in savings just may have your swapping pennies for fat. “Lipobanking”—yes, you read this right—is exactly what the term implies: the act of storing fat after it’s removed via liposuction.
As more people seek to rid themselves of those stubborn “muffin tops” and other unsightly lumps and bumps with liposuction, Dr. Jeffrey Hartog, a plastic surgeon in Orlando, Fla., offers an interesting option—store it. “Having their fat in the bank would allow patients to draw on it later, when they want to plump up body parts that have succumbed to age,” Dr. Hartog told the Orlando Sentinel in the article “Orlando fat bank aims to let patients store removed fat for future use.” He reasons that the patient only has to be anesthetized one time, but will have as much fat as needed for later injections. Compare that with the norm, which is to transfer the patient's fat immediately following the liposuction procedure and toss anything left in the trash.
Fat banking in Dr. Hartog’s facility involves cleaning and preparing the fat then putting it into a deep freeze. Down to 192 degrees Celsius, to be exact, where, says Dr. Hartog, it has the potential to be stored for a lifetime.
Not surprisingly, there are critics. According to Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio, a Boston-based plastic surgeon who is considered a fat expert, any benefit to storing fat vs. using “fresh” fat pales in comparison. "Animal data shows that frozen fat doesn't hold up as well as fresh fat," Dr. Del Vecchio told the Orlando Sentiel. Although storing fat might be helpful if you think you'll be fat-free in the future and want to use fat as a filler, he points out, "You only need 30 to 50 cc's for a facial procedure. You can always find that somewhere on a woman's body. And that's the best bank of all.”
Dr. Stephen Baker, a plastic surgeon at Georgetown University, also has concerns, pointing out that there’s always the potential risk of using the wrong fat (that which belongs to another fat bank patient), which could result in fatal consequences.
Add to these concerns that storing fat comes with a price tag. According to Dr. Hartog, the cost to store 250 to 300 cubic centimeters of fat is $900 for the first year, $200 annually after that.
Still, Dr. Hartog believes there is value for some patients. He is hush-hush on his patented fat preparation process prior to the deep freeze, but he says his center complies with FDA tissue bank guidelines and that his fat bank is under FDA oversight.