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Treatment For Fat Pad Atrophy

By David Saunders | UPDATED: 05:28, 11 February 2020

For the 40,000 people running the London Marathon in April, now is the crunch time for training. And while pounding the pavement is endlessly beneficial for both our physical and mental health, cosmetic surgeon Dr Ian Morgan warns that intense exercise can have some surprising side effects for the body.

Dr Morgan says: “Many long distance runners may experience pain in their feet due to fat loss on the soles. Named Fat Pad Atrophy, this condition can also affect the ankle and knee joints, as there is no cushioning to support the impact of running. To resolve the issue, I recommend a treatment where we harvest fat from a patient’s tummy area and insert it into the feet where volume has been pounded away by persistent running.”

Ruth Woodward, who has experienced Fat Pad Atrophy and was treated by Dr Ian Morgan commented: “As a runner for many years, I started to have pain in my feet. After many failed over the counter products and treatments I decided to source a professional”.

“I was devastated to hear that he advised me to hang up my trainers as I was in so much pain. A friend recommended Dr Morgan to me, who performed a treatment where they harvested my fat and inserted it into my feet where I had lost my volume. Following this treatment, I am now back to running 5-10K a day with no pain.”

Dr Morgan developed the techniques of fat harvesting during his time as an NHS Surgeon. The fat transfer technique involves drawing off a small amount of excess fat from the tummy area in a non-surgical procedure, and combining it with the patients’ blood using a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) technique. This mixture is then immediately injected back into the body, and can be used wherever there is volume loss, including post-surgical scars. While some swelling is possible, results are seen in as little as two weeks – perfect for runners who want to be on the move again with as little delay as possible.

While some wear and tear can be expected with training over long distances, some athletes may also experience a negative impact on their skin’s elasticity. Experts believe this may not be due to the effect of gravity from constant running on a hard surface, but in fact down to the release of oxygen and free-radical damage, which can break or damage the collagen and elastin in the skin. This is also exacerbated by harsh weather and pollution – hard for runners to avoid.

To combat the facial volume loss caused by intense exercise, Dr Morgan suggests fat harvesting and PRP for the face, which replaces the lost volume.

Dr Morgan says: “For someone with a sports-toned body but significant facial laxity due to exercise, we look to recreate a plump, healthy looking face. When the mid-face and chin loses volume, the cheeks can look hollow, which can be ageing. We counter this with fat transplantation, to revolumise and give the face a healthy glow.”

For more information about Dr Ian Morgan’s Fat transfer treatment at Soul Care Aesthetics, visit:

More information about the procedure:  A fat grafting procedure normally takes around 90 minutes. A blood sample is taken (usually 40ml) and PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) is prepared utilising a 2-step centrifugation process, producing 2 – 4ml of PRP. Next the fat harvesting (or donor) site is prepared. The lower edge of the tummy button is numbed with a small amount of local anaesthetic.

Further local anaesthetic is then in filtrated into abdominal fat either side. After a delay to allow for the local anaesthetic to take effect, a 3mm cannula is then used to remove fat into syringes. Initially, the fat is separated by gravity sedimentation, but is then transferred into syringes for centrifugation to concentrate the fat. The resulting fat is then mixed with PRP and transferred into smaller syringes – it is now ready for injection.

Usually fat is injected into the face as an alternative to filler to address volume loss, although other sites may be treated (breasts, post-surgical scars). The fat is injected through a 22G cannula, typically using 15 – 40 ml depending on the degree of volume loss. Throughout this process, strict aseptic conditions are adhered to. At the end of the procedure, the treated area is normally red as a result of PRP causing blood vessels to dilate – this normally lasts a few hours.

Swelling is expected over the next few days, with only a small risk of bruising (depending on the injection site). Results are evident at 2 – 4 weeks, however, it is expected that there will be some shrinkage of the fat – some of this is permanent loss of fat (around 20 – 30%), but a significant amount is reversible and usually recovers in 4 – 6 months. At this stage, a second session of fat grafting is routinely performed in order to optimise the results.

Patients normally enjoy many years of results from this procedure, but the ageing process continues requiring further procedures in 3 – 5 years.  The majority of patients with facial volume loss are suitable for this procedure. It is an excellent alternative to dermal fillers which usually only last around 12 months.

Costs: In Ian Morgan’s London Clinic (Harley Street) a Fat Transfer treatment costs £2,200, which covers all aftercare and the second treatment session.

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