Fat Transfer (to The Face & Other Areas: Hands, Scars, Etc.)
Fat transfer, also knows as autologous fat transfer or fat grafting, is a technique using liposuction to remove fat from areas of fat excess and transferring the fat to areas where patients have lost facial volume or desire to enhance facial contours. Fat transfer can enhance facial shape and restore youthful facial contours. Fat transfer can be performed as a stand-alone procedure or in combination with other facial procedures such as face lift, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) and brow lift. Fat grafting to the face can restore lost volume in the temples, cheeks, and lips. It is effective in treating sunken areas such as the lower eyelid area and where the lower eyelid and cheek meet—the lid cheek junction, deep creases, and acne scars.
The fat is then processed and purified before being injected. The procedure can be performed under either local or general anesthesia depending on the extent of the fat grafting and the patient/surgeon discussion. Because the fat is taken from the patient’s body, there is no risk of an allergic reaction or rejection.
While the results of all procedures are dependent on the experience, and skill of the surgeon, fat grafting is particularly surgeon dependent.
What is the discomfort level after fat grafting to the face?
The discomfort to the facial areas (or other areas) to which fat is transferred is usually mild. The discomfort to the areas where liposuction is performed to harvest the fat is moderate for most patients requiring prescription pain medication for the first few days.
What are the limitations of activity after fat grafting?
- Minimize extreme facial (or body part where fat is transferred) movements.
- No dental procedures for four to six weeks after grafting
- No smoking for one month before and one month after fat grafting
- No foods that require “hard chewing”—biting into an apple, bagel, or steak
- Eat softer foods—fish vs. steak, softer fruits, and vegetables
What percent of the grafted fat survives?
The per cent of fat graft volume that survives is variable ranging from less than 40% to greater than 70%. Graft survival depends on many factors including (but not limited to) technique and surgeon experience, area to which the fat is grafted, previous surgery, patient age and body mass index. Graft survival may differ from one area to another within the same patient.
If only a percent of the fat survives why not graft more than you need?
While in theory that may seem like a logical solution, it is not a prudent treatment plan. If more of the fat survives than anticipated, depending on the area to which it is grafted, removing grafted fat may be difficult. While mild overcorrection to the cheeks may be possible to correct, over correction of the lower eyelids/tear trough can be extremely difficult to correct.
How long does the grafted fat last? Does it last longer than fillers?
The percentage of the grafted fat that survives can be considered to be long lasting. Since this fat is living tissue, like all living tissue, it will change with time. If you lose weight, the fat cells may get smaller and what once seemed a satisfactory improvement may appear suboptimal. On the other hand, if you gain weight, the grafted fat cells may get larger perhaps making the area appear somewhat overcorrected. For patients who maintain their body weight, the effects of fat grafting can last for five years or more.
What is the best area to take fat from?
A body area that seems particularly resistant to weight loss would be a good choice. If, for example, you have noticed that when you lose weight, your hip rolls (flanks) and upper abdomen don’t respond to diet and exercise as other body areas respond, then your hip rolls and upper abdomen would be considered choice sites from which to harvest fat.
How would I know which is a better choice fat or filler?
The best way to make this decision is to discuss your options during a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced with fat transfer. She/he can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure and guide you in the decision-making process.
In what areas can fat be used to restore facial volume?
- Hollow/Sunken Cheeks
- Sunken lower eyelids
- Sunken upper eyelids
- Blending of the lower eyelid area with the cheeks
- Temples that have a hollowed appearance
- Areas of Acne Scars
- Scars/Indentations (on any area of body)
Can fat transfer enhance areas that haven’t lost volume?
Fat transfer can be used to enhance areas that appear naturally deficient
Risks Of Fat Transplantation For The Face (Body)
Although fat transplantation is generally considered safe, risks include the following:
- Nerve damage
- Under- or over-correction
- Cyst formation
Physician technique, experience, and knowledge of anatomy are factors that will determine the outcome of your procedure. Before undergoing treatment with fat or filler injections, do your homework. Choose a board certified Plastic Surgeon with experience, and a proven track record. Board Certified dermatologists, ophthalmologists and facial plastic surgeons with a proven track record and experience can also be considered.