BACKGROUND: The number of gluteal fat augmentation procedures has increased recently and so has the number of complications. Because of the increased risk of morbidity and mortality when fat is injected intramuscularly, not knowing where fat is injected is concerning. We sought to identify the planes in which fat is injected during the procedure. METHODS: We selected 15 consecutive female patients who desired gluteal fat augmentation. All patients had epidural anesthesia and the gluteal region was infiltrated with a vasoconstrictive solution. With the patient in prone position, an ultrasound probe placed on the buttocks was used to identify the fascial layers. While decanted fat was being injected with a blunt cannula, the images were projected wirelessly to a screen, so that the surgeon and assistant could follow the planes in which the cannula was being introduced and the fat injected. RESULTS: The mean volume of harvested fat was 3533 ml and the mean volume of fat injected per gluteal region was 528 ml. The evaluation of the depth and location of the cannula was performed in real time with the ultrasound, accurately and reliably identifying the planes of fat injection. All injections were subcutaneous. The downsides of this technique were the purchase cost of the ultrasound device, increased surgical time, the need for an assistant to follow the cannula and the probe constantly, and the learning curve. CONCLUSION: Real-time ultrasound-assisted gluteal fat grafting is reliable and may avoid injuring the deep vessels, further decreasing the risks of major complications.
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