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Autologous Fat Grafting and Injectable Dermal Fillers for Human Immunodeficiency Virus–Associated Facial Lipodystrophy: A Comparison of Safety, Efficacy, and Long-Term Treatment Outcomes

Shuck, John M.D.; Iorio, Matthew L. M.D.; Hung, Rex B.S.; Davison, Steven P. M.D., D.D.S.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: March 2013 - Volume 131 - Issue 3 - p 499–506
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31827c6df5
Reconstructive: Head and Neck: Original Articles

Background: Facial lipoatrophy is a common side effect of human immunodeficiency virus treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy. To identify the most clinically durable and efficient way of addressing facial lipoatrophy, the authors reviewed all available evidence for the use of injectable dermal fillers and autologous fat transfers as treatment modalities, focusing on safety, outcomes, and long-term durability.

Methods: A systematic review of the Cochrane and MEDLINE databases for autologous fat transfer and injectable dermal fillers for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus–associated lipodystrophy was performed. Based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in human immunodeficiency virus lipoatrophy, studies were limited to the use of hyaluronic acid and/or poly-L-lactic acid. Facial volume, subjective patient satisfaction, standardized outcome scales, reinjection rates, and complications were recorded.

Results: Nineteen studies were included representing 724 patients, with 549 patients in the hyaluronic acid/poly-L-lactic acid cohort and 175 in the autologous fat transfer cohort. Improvements in facial volume and durability of treatment were similar between dermal fillers and fat transfer, as measured by both objective means and subjective patient outcomes. However, poly-L-lactic acid was reinjected at a rate three times that of autologous fat, and was associated with a relatively high rate of subcutaneous papule formation at 22 percent (range, 3 to 44 percent).

Conclusions: Dermal fillers and autologous fat transfer are effective treatment modalities for human immunodeficiency virus–associated facial lipoatrophy, with high rates of facial volume restoration and patient satisfaction. Autologous fat transfer may offer similar to superior long-term durability but with less of a financial burden compared with injectable fillers.

Washington, D.C.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital, and DAVinci Plastic Surgery.

Received for publication July 23, 2012; accepted September 17, 2012.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interests in any of the products or techniques mentioned and have received no external support related to this study.

Matthew L. Iorio, M.D.; Department of Plastic Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital, 3800 Reservoir Road, 1-PHC, Washington, D.C. 20007,

©2013American Society of Plastic Surgeons