The Art Of Fat Transfer
Autologous fat transfer, or fat grafting, is a facial plastic surgery procedure designed to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the face. Signs of aging often culminate in the appearance of volume loss and may manifest as thin lips, sunken cheeks, and hollowing around the eyes. By borrowing a patient’s own adipose tissue from one part of the body and transferring it to the face, our Oklahoma City facial plastic surgeon—Dr. Scott Shadfar—can restore volume and rejuvenate the face.
What is Fat Transfer?
Facial fat transfer is designed to use a patient’s own tissue as a “natural filler” to replace lost volume and enhance facial fullness. This is accomplished by using liposuction techniques to collect fat in one area of the body and repurposing the excess tissue to rejuvenate the face. The technique can be utilized to enhance hollow facial planes, restore the youthful contour of the cheeks, or fill in prominent facial creases like nasolabial folds. The use of a patient’s own fat is all-natural, reducing any risk of an allergic reaction, and results can last much longer than the outcomes provided by other injectable dermal fillers.
Indications for Fat Transfer
Fat transfer can provide beautiful results for men and women who wish to correct age-related volume loss in their facial features. Patients considering facial fat grafting treatment typically report the following concerns:
- Sunken cheeks or under-eye hollows
- Thin lips or a loss of lip volume
- Loss of volume along the jawline
- Loss of volume in the temples
- Nasolabial folds (parentheses wrinkles)
- Marionette lines
- Wrinkles and shallow facial scarring
Dr. Shadfar can evaluate your concerns and assess whether facial fat transfer is able to achieve the results you desire. In some cases, a facelift may be a more effective procedure to minimize skin laxity in the face as well as jowling along the jawline and neck to attain a more youthful facial appearance.
Which Areas Can Be Enhanced With Fat Transfer?
Depending on your concerns, facial fat grafting can be performed to rejuvenate the following areas:
- Around and under the eyes
- Pronounced facial folds
To attain a more comprehensive result, it is not uncommon for patients to combine their treatment with eyelid surgery or a forehead lift to remove excess skin around the eyes and achieve a more energetic and refreshed look in the upper-third of the face.
Fat Transfer Technique
Fat grafting can be performed under local anesthesia, sedation, or a general anesthetic. The tissue is collected using liposuction techniques and—dependent on the amount of volume needed—the harvesting site can vary. The abdomen, buttocks, thighs, or flanks are the most common areas wherein fat is gathered. Once the appropropriate amount of fat is collected, the process of refining the fat is a meticulous process. After the fat cells are purified and prepared, small cannulas are used to introduce the adipose tissue into the face. It will be carefully injected to augment features, volumize facial depressions, and fill in creases according to your cosmetic goals. Fat grafting is an outpatient procedure and patients can return home the same day.
Fat Transfer Recovery
Often, a light compressive dressing is used for the first 24 hours. The morning after the surgery, Dr. Shadfar will see the patient in clinic and check all incisions, remove the head wrap, and go over all wound care measures. In the case of facial fat grafting, prolonged bruising and swelling are expected. Individual results can vary depending on the quality of fat. In most cases, one-half of the fat grafting volume introduced will be retained. By the three month mark, the volume of graft remaining is stable and should reflect your final result.