Microfragmented Adipose Tissue (MFAT)
Living with chronic pain can cause major disruptions to your life—especially conditions like osteoarthritis or tendon and joint injuries that can limit movement and keep you from the activities you love.
To help you get back to your life, University of Iowa Health Care sports medicine physicians provide the latest in innovative regenerative therapies.
This includes specialized training in administering microfragmented adipose tissue (MFAT), a nonsurgical treatment that uses your body’s own adipose tissue (fat cells) to repair and heal.
When injected into an affected area, MFAT injections provide the essential cushioning and beneficial cells necessary to stimulate healing, provide long-term relief, and better manage your symptoms.
How microfragmented adipose tissue injections works
Microfragmented adipose tissue treatment typically takes less than 90 minutes and is performed at the UI Sports Medicine Clinic. The process involves a procedure known as lipoaspiration to remove a small amount of adipose tissue from your abdomen, sides, or thighs. The tissue is then cleaned and passed through a filter to make it easier to inject.
The adipose tissue is then injected into your body directly into the affected area under ultrasound guidance—an imaging technique that uses sound waves to create real-time images inside the body. Unlike other medical centers, UI Health Care uses this ultrasound imaging to help place the injection exactly where it's intended, providing better outcomes.
As one of the only evidence-based regenerative medicine programs in Iowa, our MFAT injections are performed in a careful, structured, regimented, and research-driven manner. As a patient who gets an MFAT procedure, you will have the option to enroll in one of our research studies to track your outcomes or adverse events and adjust treatment as needed. You will also be provided with rehabilitation guidelines to get the most out of your treatment.
What to expect after a microfragmented adipose tissue injection
For the first two weeks after the procedure, you will be advised to rest the treatment area. Then, you will start your structured physical therapy and can start doing low-impact exercise. In about six weeks, you can start reincorporating higher-impact activities.
Outcomes are based on multiple factors, such as the location and extent of your injury. However, you should be aware that it's going to be a slow, gradual healing process as opposed to immediate improvement.
Patients often notice improvement in six to eight weeks. For some patients, however, it may take up to three months to notice results.
Who is eligible for microfragmented adipose tissue injections
The first step in determining your eligibility for MFAT is to get a proper diagnosis from your provider. Common diagnoses include:
Acute and chronic tendon and joint injuries
You will then consult with a UI Health Care sports medicine physician to discuss your medical history and complete a full physical evaluation before they present your treatment options.
Note, however, that having one of these diagnoses does not necessarily mean you are a good candidate. Most people with injuries should start with standard-of-care treatments—otherwise known as conservative care—to address any underlying issues and improve physical function. This may include:
Nonsteroidal medications (i.e., ibuprofen)
If you’ve tried these conservative care methods and are still experiencing symptoms after three months, microfragmented adipose tissue injections may be a good next progression in treatment.
Microfragmented adipose tissue injections as an alternative to surgery
Surgical treatment for these types of conditions is also an option for people who do not respond to conservative care techniques, but surgery may not be as successful or as reliable as MFAT.
MFAT is less risky and less invasive than surgery. The recovery is significantly faster, and the effectiveness can be at least equal to surgery in most indications.