Is Using a Fat Bank a Good Idea?

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Last week, plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Hartog opened Florida’s first fat bank —a facility designed to freeze and store patients’ liposuctioned fat for future cosmetic uses. Dr. Hartog claims that fat banking is better for patients because it makes it possible for them to avoid future liposuction. Normally, if a patient has a fat transfer procedure done and further down the road needs to re-plump that area, they have to go through the fat removal process again; with fat banking, they can make sure that they take out sufficient fat the first time so they have enough on hand for later procedures.

Not everyone thinks this is a great idea, however, largely because there is so little evidence available to support Dr. Hartog’s claim that his freezing process (which, since it’s patented, he’s not explaining in detail) will keep fat in good enough condition for later use. Most fat transfers utilize a patient’s fat the same day it’s removed by liposuction—often within just an hour of removal—and there are concerns that frozen fat simply won’t hold up over extended periods of time. If it doesn’t, and it’s injected into a patient’s body, it not only won’t work, but it will put their health in danger.

Only time will tell if this fat bank is the first of many to come, and whether the storage techniques Dr. Hartog is employing are as effective as he says they are. In the meantime, however—until this process has been proven as a viable one—it might be smarter to go to the only proven bank out there when you’re in need of fat for a transfer procedure: your own body.