Vocal Fold Fat Augmentation for Atrophy, Scarring, and Unilateral Paralysis: Long-term Functional Outcomes

Yonatan Lahav*, Liron Malka-Yosef, Yael Shapira-Galitz, Oded Cohen, Doron Halperin, Hagit Shoffel-Havakuk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: There is a debate regarding the durability of fat implants. Our experience and recent publications suggest fat implantation may deliver a long-lasting improvement. This study aims to present the long-term outcomes for vocal fold fat augmentation using strict harvesting, preparing, and implantation protocols. Study Design: A prospective cohort conducted between 2014 and 2020 (recruitment 2014-2017). Setting: An academic tertiary referral center. Subjects and Methods: Twenty-two patients with glottic insufficiency were enrolled: 11 had unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP), and 11 had atrophy or scar. Harvested fat was injected unilaterally or bilaterally into multiple sites. Six of these patients also had simultaneous microlaryngoscopic removal of other benign glottic lesions. Outcome measurements included video stroboscopy; Grade, Roughness, Breathiness, Asthenia, Strain (GRBAS) score; Voice Handicap Index (VHI); and acoustic analysis, performed preoperatively, 3, 12, 24, and 36 months after surgery. Results: Ten augmentations were unilateral and 12 bilateral. Comparing the preoperative and 36-month postoperative periods, the mean VHI score improved from 73.45 (±22.78) to 44.88 (±28.93), P =.001, and the mean GRBAS decreased from 8.64 (±3.89) to 2.82 (±2.3), P =.001; 24 months postoperatively, the mean fundamental frequency decreased from 163.88 Hz (±41.61) to 150.44 Hz (±41.47), P =.012. Stroboscopic analysis revealed statistically significant improvement in mucosal wave propagation, phase closure, and phase symmetry. Best results were achieved in the UVFP subgroup. Computed tomography scans demonstrated long-term viability of the implanted adipose tissue. Conclusion: Fat is an excellent source of autologous graft. With careful patient selection and proper surgical technique, fat is suitable for long-term correction of glottic insufficiency. Fat augmentation should be considered as a long-lasting or even permanent solution, rather than temporary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-638
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • atrophy
  • fat augmentation
  • long term
  • paralysis
  • scar
  • vocal fold


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