Your Fat: Value Added for Scar Sufferers

When you think of liposuction, you think of getting rid of unwanted fat (and good riddance!). However, recent research shows that that fat can also have a potentially high return value for people who live with scars that cause high levels of discomfort and cause mobility issues. Dr. Marco Klinger and colleagues published the results of their fat grafting study in the September 2013 issue of The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery in the article “Autologous Fat Graft in Scar Treatment.” According to the authors’ work, they have designed and tested an effective technique to clinically and aesthetically treat scars from a variety of types of trauma, including burns, surgery, radiation therapy and more. 

The Study
Dr. Klinger and colleagues, Università degli Studi di Milano, examined the results of autologous fat grafting in 700 patients within a 6-year treatment window who had hard, tight painful scars that affected normal activity / mobility, and had been unresponsive to standard scar treatments. Patients underwent liposuction from the abdomen or hips from which the collected fat and tissue was processed and injected into the scarred areas using a technique that distributed the fat under the skin to create a scaffold of cellular support.

According to the authors, the patients experienced "a qualitative improvement" in terms of both scar appearance and ease of function. Initial results were seen as soon as 2 weeks post treatment, with continued improvements at the 3-month and 1-year follow ups. Noted improvements included less pain, more even skin / scar color, and skin flexibility. The authors write, “Most importantly, reduction or complete resolution of pain and increases in scar elasticity were objectively assessable in all cases.”

Digging Deeper
In a subgroup of 20 patients, the study authors performed an objective test of treatment benefits using the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale (POSAS) along with Durometer measurements. They were able to show a statistically significant reduction in scar hardness with fat transfer compared with saline injections, and also in POSAS parameters.

Dr. Klinger and colleagues conclude, "In general, we can affirm that treated areas regain characteristics similar to normal skin, which are clinically objectivable, leading not only to aesthetic but also functional results."


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