During the aging process, we lose much of the youthful fullness in our face leading to a tired, sunken look. Today, the new thinking in plastic surgery is to replace this lost volume in the face, rather than pull it tighter. Oftentimes, the good option is to use a dermal filler material (Restylane® or Radiesse®) if the area to be addressed is relatively small, such as the lips or smile lines. In cases where a more significant amount of volume enhancement or replacement is required, fat transfer is a better way to achieve the desired result. Fat transfer, also referred to as autologous fat transfer, fat augmentation or fat injection, is a procedure which involves the use of a patient’s own natural fat to treat unwanted wrinkles and creases or to provide additional volume to the face.
Fat Transfer Candidates
Good candidates for fat transfer include men and women who are physically healthy, have realistic expectations, and are interested in improving the contour of the face by diminishing lines and/or adding fullness. Areas commonly treated with fat transfer include the lower eyelids, cheeks, nasolabial folds, and the jawline.
The Fat Transfer Procedure
Most fat transfer procedures are performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility and typically involve local anesthesia on the donor and recipient sites. Some patients may also be given oral sedation. The procedure usually takes less than an hour to complete and is associated with only mild postoperative discomfort. Many patients elect to have fat transfer performed as an adjunct to a more invasive surgery. In this case, the procedures may be performed together in an outpatient surgery setting with deep sedation or general anesthesia.
During the fat transfer procedure, fat is harvested through a small incision from either the neck or the abdomen. The fat is then cleansed and concentrated, after which it is injected into the desired area. In those seeking a natural alternative for treating deep facial wrinkles or simply adding volume to the face, this is an excellent option. There is minimal swelling and rarely any significant bruising. Most patients can return to normal daily activities within a short period of time following the procedure.