Background: Fat grafting has been increasingly utilized in both aesthetic and reconstructive surgical procedures, yet the basic scientific understanding of fat grafting has lagged behind the pace of clinical innovation and utilization. This lack of basic scientific understanding has perhaps manifested itself in the wide range of graft viability reported across the literature. This study attempts to further the underlying mechanisms of fat graft take and viability through the comparison of the subcutaneous plane and the local fat pad in athymic rats. Methods: Lipoaspirate from a consenting patient was grafted into 2 locations in the subcutaneous plane and into the 2 inguinal fat pads in each of 4 athymic rats. Specimens were then collected after 47 days, and immunohistochemistry was utilized to determine angiogenesis in the fat grafts as a measure of fat graft take. Data were analyzed using the Student’s t test and analysis of variance followed by multiple comparisons. Results: There was no statistically significant difference (P = 0.2913) between the inguinal fat pad and the subcutaneous plane when measuring neovascularization. Analysis of variance comparing the graft locations also indicated no statistically significant difference when comparing each of the rats. Conclusions: Investigation into fat graft injection location indicates that there is no statistically significant difference in angiogenesis signals between the subcutaneous plane and the local fat pad in the athymic rat model. Further research should aim to continue to close the gap between clinical practice and basic scientific understanding of fat grafting.
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