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Due to the abundance and biocompatibility of fat, lipotransfer has become an attractive method for treating soft tissue deficits. However, it is limited by unpredictable graft survival and retention. Currently, little is known about the viscoelastic properties of fat after various injection methods. Here, we assess the effects of cannula diameter, length, and shape on the viscoelastic properties, structure, and retention of fat.Human lipoaspirate was harvested using suction-assisted liposuction and prepared for grafting. A syringe pump was used to inject fat at a controlled flow rate through cannulas of varying gauge, length, and shape. Processed samples were tested in triplicate on an oscillatory rheometer to measure their viscoelastic properties. Fat grafts from each group were placed into the scalps of immunocompromised mice. After 8 weeks, graft retention was measured using micro-CT and grafts were explanted for histological analysis.Lipoaspirate injected through narrower, longer, and bent cannulas exhibited more shear thinning with diminished quality. The storage modulus (G') of fat processed with 18-gauge cannulas was significantly lower than when processed with 14-gauge or larger cannulas, which also corresponded with inferior in vivo histological structure. Similarly, the longer cannula group had a significantly lower G' than the shorter cannula, and was associated with decreased graft retention.Discrete modifications in the methods used for fat placement can have a significant impact on immediate graft integrity, and ultimately on graft survival and quality. Respecting these biomechanical influences during the placement phase of lipotransfer may allow surgeons to optimize outcomes.
View details for DOI 10.1097/PRS.0000000000003578
View details for PubMedID 28574947