Facial fat transfer is an exciting procedure that allows us to volumetrically augment the face, and restore its youthful, full contours. It is well documented that the process of aging involves fat atrophy as well as descent of fat pads. Fat transfers can be performed to improve cheek fullness, fill in facial hollows or depressions, restore volume to the eyelids, and refine the jawline. In addition to facial volume augmentation, fat injections can be used to restore the beauty and youthfulness of your hands, which also lose volume during the aging process.
During this outpatient procedure, local anesthetic and/or light sedation are used. Fat is then harvested from an area of the body such as the abdomen, hips, or thighs. A very small cannula is used for the fat transfer. Because the fat is not a foreign substance, it becomes incorporated as living tissue and there is no risk of rejection. There is usually an initial two week period of mild bruising and swelling.
Dr. Anurag Agarwal demonstrates fat injection in his office on a patient. He treats the temporal hollows, tear troughs and nasolabial folds.
*Warning: Actual surgical video footage of facial volumization with fat injections. This video is graphic, and includes liposuction of fat from the love handles and fat injection into multiple areas of the face.
Fat Transfer vs Injectable Fillers
A face fat transfer refers to using one’s own fat to act as a filler in the face. Fat is harvested from the body, viable fat cells are separated out, and then injected back into areas such as temples, tear troughs, cheeks, jawline, folds around the mouth, chin, etc… The fat that is grafted adds volume to the face and plumps your skin to look more refreshed and youthful. When comparing fat grafting to the face vs filler, one must consider how long each lasts, cost, quality of the result, side effects, and down time.
Fat grafting is considered much more long term than injectable fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane, with fat transfer results lasting several years. As you age, you do continue to lose facial fat, and it is likely that you would benefit from additional fat transfer sessions as you age. About 30-40% of the fat that is injected survives as a living tissue graft in your body, while the remaining 60-70% resorbs within the first month.
Injectable fillers such as Juvederm, Voluma, Restylane, Radiesse, etc… have an immediate result, but generally degrade over a period of 6-12 months, depending on the filler. When comparing cost, it often is more cost effective to consider fat transfer as most patients have ample supply and multiple areas can be grafted with larger quantities. Injectable fillers require several syringes to accomplish results such as those gained from fat transfer, which can be costly in the end, especially when factoring in repeating this every 6-12 months. There are certain areas that are better treated with injectable fillers than fat, such as ingrained wrinkles or folds around the mouth.
Fat transfer is often better at treating areas such as the tear troughs under the eyes, temples, cheeks and jawline, which are all broader areas of volume deficiency. There are more potential side effects and cons from fat transfer compared to fillers. For example, fat transfer can cause more bruising, potential for a lump or bump that cannot be easily dissolved, and potential unpredictable graft survival. However, the pros of using fat are that it is your own material, low risk of allergy, often a more natural look, and cheaper in the long run. Fat injections in the face are priced based on areas treated, time spent in the surgery, whether it’s performed awake or in the operating room with IV sedation, and complexity of the individual’s face. A consultation for fat grafting face vs. fillers is your best first step to determine which procedure is best for you.
Fat Injection – Naples Florida Plastic Surgery
Fat Transfer to the Hands by Dr. William A. Ross
The process of hand rejuvenation is intended to treat aging skin changes, fine wrinkles, and a loss of volume, which can lead to prominent veins on the back of the hand. The process takes about 9 weeks and involves rejuvenation of the skin, diminishing the appearance of prominent veins and restoring the volume of soft tissue that is characteristic of youthful hands. Downtime is minimal, largely related to the mild discomfort associated with laser treatment and filler injection. Patients can expect to return to their normal activities immediately after treatments, with some restrictions. Short term skin changes may be associated with the BBL (Broadband Light) therapy and use of temporary fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse). The effects may be lasting (years) if patients opt for fat grafting, which serves to both restore volume and rejuvenate the appearance of aging skin.
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Fat Augmentation FAQs
An individual consultation with one of our Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Agarwal, Dr. Maloney, Dr. Ross, or Dr. Holmes is the best way to determine which procedure is best suited to meet your goals. During this consultation, the surgeon will examine you, and explain the areas on your face that would benefit from fat transfer.
Generally speaking, it takes about two weeks for most of the swelling and bruising to resolve. This can vary from individual to individual. There is some swelling that persists for the first one month post-operatively. Make-up can be applied two days post-operatively.
The results of fat transfer last for many years because the fat that is retained functions as a living, viable tissue graft. In order to accommodate some initial resorption, the areas that are treated are over-corrected with fat. Longevity depends on several factors, including: the area to be injected (fat tends to last longer in areas of least mobility), quantity necessary for augmentation, the individual’s age and tissue quality, and exogenous factors (i.e. smoking, etc.). The procedure is usually repeated as needed to add more volume.
Fat injections can be done with either local anesthesia or twilight sedation. If you choose the former, it can be done in the office. If you choose the latter, it is done at our accredited surgery center. During twilight anesthesia, you will breathe on your own, but you will not remember anything. It is a quick acting type of anesthesia that also wears off quickly. Because you are breathing spontaneously, an endotracheal tube is usually not used.
Our plastic surgeons use fine, delicate sutures to close the microscopic incision that the fat is harvested through by liposuction. There are no sutures on the face.
Related Procedures: Facelift, Rhinoplasty, Revision Rhinoplasty, The UpLift Facelift, Endoscopic Mid Facelift Surgery, Eyelid Surgery, Eyebrow Transplant, Chin & Cheek Surgery, Skin Cancer Reconstruction, Hair Transplant Surgery, Surgery of the Ears, Lip Augmentation, Endoscopic Eyebrow Lift, Scar Revision, Facial Trauma