Fat grafting is a common procedure in aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, but variable graft retention limits its utility. Unpredictable clinical outcomes with fat grafting can be explained in part by the lack of standardized protocols for harvesting, processing, and transplanting adipose tissue (AT). Historically, plastic surgeons have relied on trial and error and their clinical experience to develop fat grafting protocols. Optimization of fat grafting protocols requires systematic assessment of the impact that key variables have on the quality of the AT preparation at each step of the procedure. In this article, we review recent findings regarding the composition and quality of AT prepared for fat grafting and the strengths and limitations of existing AT characterization assays. We discuss the need for an assessment of the viability of intact AT (ie, conventionally harvested AT that has not been disrupted further) by means of an operator-independent, quantitative assay that can be performed in real time and generates reproducible data. Promising assays for the characterization of cell product quality have been developed for other therapeutic applications, such as transplantation of pancreatic islet cells. The development or adaptation of a gold-standard assay to determine the quality of an AT preparation may help to standardize fat grafting protocols and improve clinical outcomes.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Inc.