Is autologous fat transfer (lipofilling) a safe and effective treatment for soft-tissue deformities in the face?
This systematic review and meta-analysis of 52 studies and 1568 patients found autologous fat transfer to be associated with a high patient satisfaction rate (91.1%) and surgeon satisfaction rate (88.6%) after 1.5 sessions. Volume retention stabilized at 50% to 60% at 1 year, and only 4.8% of procedures resulted in clinical complications.
This meta-analysis of the combined data from all published studies confirms that autologous fat transfer is a safe and effective treatment in facial reconstructive surgery.
The use of autologous fat transfer (AFT) or lipofilling for correcting contour deformities is seen as one of the major breakthroughs in reconstructive plastic surgery. Its applications in facial reconstructive surgery have been of particular interest owing to the prospect of achieving autologous reconstruction by a minimally invasive approach. However, its unpredictability and variable degree of resorption have limited its utility and much skepticism still exists regarding its efficacy. Furthermore, more than 2 decades of clinical research have produced a highly fragmented body of evidence that has not been able to provide definite answers.
To investigate the safety and efficacy of AFT in facial reconstruction through a systematic review and meta-analysis.
A literature search was performed in PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library from inception to October 11, 2017.
All published studies investigating the efficacy and safety of AFT in facial reconstructive surgery.
Data Extraction and Synthesis
Two independent reviewers performed data extraction systematically, adhering to the PRISMA guidelines. Summary measures were pooled in a random-effects model meta-analysis.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The patient and surgeon satisfaction, graft survival, number of AFT sessions, and the incidence of AFT-related complications were the main outcomes of interest in this meta-analysis.
This systematic review resulted in the inclusion 52 relevant studies consisting of 1568 unique patients. These included 4 randomized clinical trials, 11 cohort studies, and 37 case series. The overall follow-up averaged 1.3 years after AFT. Meta-analysis revealed a very high overall patient satisfaction rate of 91.1% (95% CI, 85.1%-94.8%) and overall surgeon satisfaction rate of 88.6% (95% CI, 83.4%-92.4%). The number of AFT sessions required to achieve the desired result was 1.5 (95% CI, 1.3-1.7) and 50% to 60% of the injected volume was retained at 1 year. Only 4.8% (95% CI, 3.3%-6.9%) of procedures resulted in clinical complications.
Conclusions and Relevance
To our knowledge, this study provides the first overview of the current knowledge about AFT in facial reconstructive surgery. Our results confirm that AFT is an effective technique for treating soft-tissue deformities in the head and neck, with low rate of minor complications.
Level of Evidence
Krastev TK, Beugels J, Hommes J, Piatkowski A, Mathijssen I, van der Hulst R. Efficacy and Safety of Autologous Fat Transfer in Facial Reconstructive SurgeryA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2018;20(5):351–360. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2018.0102
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