Autologous fat transfer is an effective tool for volume restoration to the aging face. Although numerous reports exist regarding injection site complications, there is limited data on donor-site morbidity in the cosmetic surgery literature.
This study is a large-scale retrospective review to determine incidence of fat harvest-site complications, identify risk factors, and describe management strategies. Records of all patients who underwent autologous fat harvesting and facial grafting at a single oculofacial plastic surgery practice from 2010 to 2019 were reviewed. Patient demographics and clinical data were collected and assessed. A statistical analysis was performed using a two-tailed T-test with p values of <0.05 considered significant.
Four-hundred sixteen patients were followed for an average of 6.2 months postoperatively. There was an overall 5.5% harvest-site complication rate. There was no correlation of harvest-site complications with gender (p = 0.249) or age (p = 0.881). Harvest location did not significantly correlate with complication rate. The most common complications were contour irregularities, prolonged induration, and prolonged erythema. Low body mass index was associated with higher complication rate (p = 0.003), even when excluding those patients with contour irregularities (p = 0.001). Various treatment modalities were used to manage donor-site morbidity with consistent improvement.
Autologous fat transfer used for facial volume augmentation has low donor-site morbidity. Minor harvest-site complications occur more commonly in patients with low body mass index, irrespective of age, gender, or fat source.

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