By DAISY DUMAS Last updated at 9:06 PM on 15th September 2011
A plastic surgeon is opening a ‘fat bank’ that will allow patients to store their own body fat for future use.
Dr Jeffrey Hartog, from Seminole County, FL, has developed a process that removes fat from patients by liposuction and then stores it in a super deep freeze.
Such is the lucrative potential of the idea, he believes, that he has dubbed the facility the Liquid Gold lipid bank.
Fat of the land: Dr Jeffrey Hartog in front of his new fat bank. He believes the storage facility will revolutionize plastic surgery
The frozen fat is held for the patients’ lifetime for use in potential future plastic surgical treatments, where fat is needed as a filler, for example.
Dr Hartog claims the process sidesteps the need for multiple general anesthetics to remove fat, or to rely on synthetic fillers.
Body sculpting and wrinkle removal procedures see patients commonly having fat added to the face and breasts straight after it is removed from another part of a patients’ body.
The surgeon told the Orlando Sentinel: ‘Fat banking takes this [procedure] to a whole new level.
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‘We put the patient to sleep once. Do the lipo. Get the fat out once and have as much as we need for later injections.’
He is confident that many of his patients will be interested in the new service.
‘I will present it as an option to any patient having liposuction,’ he said of the Liquid Gold bank that is located next to his surgery.
Fat is harvested from patients by liposuction before being drained and cleaned. Protectants are then added to the lipids before being put into a slow freeze that sees the fat’s temperature gradually taken to minus 192C, according to the newspaper.
Fat storage doesn’t come cheap – to deep freeze 250cm3 of fat, equating to around a coffee cup’s worth, the bank costs $900 for the first year and then $200 a year onwards.
While fat transfer is not a new concept, freezing and storing human lipids is breaking new ground.
Critics are dubious as to the science behind the patented idea.
Dr Stephen Baker, associate professor of plastic surgery at Georgetown University, told the Florida newspaper that the viability of freezing human fat is not supported by current research. ‘No good data exists to substantiate the fact that frozen fat does well or is metabolically viable,’ said Dr Baker.
‘No good data exists to substantiate the fact that frozen fat does well or is metabolically viable’
Dr Daniel Del Vecchio, of Massachusetts General Hospital, is an expert in fat transfer. He told the Sentinel: ‘Animal data shows that frozen fat doesn’t hold up as well as fresh fat.’
He raises questions over its storage, which he says is ‘a logistical nightmare. There are better solutions.’
the best, he says, is the body itself: ‘You only need 30 to 50 cc’s for a facial procedure. You can always find that somewhere on a woman’s body. And that’s the best bank of all.’
Their concerns may partly explain the current lack of human fat storage facilities – and why Dr Hertog says his lipid bank, which is operated under Food and Drug Administration guidelines, is a unique center.
‘Even in the best-run tissue banks, which require multiple layers of tissue identification, humans make mistakes. If a patient gets the wrong fat injected, the results could be serious,’ points out Dr Baker.
‘To do this for an elective procedure is really putting yourself at risk. Even if a procedure doesn’t work, it above all has to be safe.’