BACKGROUND: The viability of fat grafts obtained by even a well-established technique remains poorly studied and unknown. This study was designed to determine the viability of fat grafts harvested and refined by the Coleman technique. METHODS: Sixteen adult white women were enrolled in this study. In group 1 (n = 8), fat grafts were harvested and processed with the Coleman technique by a single surgeon from the abdomen of each patient according to his standardized method. In group 2 (n = 8), fat grafts were harvested with the conventional liposuction by another surgeon. After centrifugation, the resulting middle layer of tissue was collected. All fat graft samples were analyzed for the following studies: trypan blue vital staining for viable adipocyte counts, glycerol-3-phophatase dehydrogenase assay, and routine histologic examination. RESULTS: The higher viable adipocyte counts were found in group 1 compared with group 2 (4.11 ± 1.11 versus 2.57 ± 0.56 × 10 cells/ml; p < 0.004). The level of glycerol-3-phophatase dehydrogenase activity was significantly higher in group 1 compared with group 2 (0.66 ± 0.09 versus 0.34 ± 0.13 U/ml; p < 0.0001). Histologic examination showed normal structure of fragmented fatty tissues in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: Although fat grafts obtained by both methods maintain normal histologic structure, the Coleman technique yields a greater number of viable adipocytes and sustains a more optimal level of cellular function within fat grafts and should be considered superior to conventional liposuction as a preferred method of choice for fat graft harvesting.
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