Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 704–713 | Cite as

Fat Grafting Versus Adipose-Derived Stem Cell Therapy: Distinguishing Indications, Techniques, and Outcomes

  • Christina J. Tabit
  • Ginger C. Slack
  • Kenneth Fan
  • Derrick C. Wan
  • James P. Bradley


With adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) at the forefront of research and potential clinical applications, it is important that clinicians be able to distinguish them from the fat grafting currently used clinically and to understand how the two approaches relate to one another. At times, there has been confusion in clinically considering the two therapies to be the same. This report is aimed at distinguishing clearly between fat grafting and ASC therapy with regard to the indications, harvesting, processing, application techniques, outcomes, and complications. Findings have shown that autologous fat transfer, a widely used procedure for soft tissue augmentation, is beneficial for reconstructive and cosmetic procedures used to treat patients with volume loss due to disease, trauma, congenital defects, or the natural process of aging. On the other hand, ASCs have been identified as an ideal source of cells for regenerative medicine, with the potential to serve as soft tissue therapy for irradiated, scarred, or chronic wounds. Recent advances in tissue engineering suggest that the supplementation of fat grafts with ASCs isolated in the stromal vascular fraction may increase the longevity and quality of the fat graft. Research suggests that ASC supplementation may be a great clinical tool in the future, but more data should be acquired before clinical applications.


Autologous fat transfer Fat grafting Adipose-derived stem cells Tissue engineering 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC and International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina J. Tabit
    • 1
  • Ginger C. Slack
    • 1
  • Kenneth Fan
    • 1
  • Derrick C. Wan
    • 1
    • 2
  • James P. Bradley
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryDavid Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Division of Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryStanford University School of Medicine Palo AltoUSA

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