One of the key signs of aging is loss of the volume, loss of elasticity, and thinning of facial skin. Many prospective patients complain of drawn, hollow-looking faces, sagging skin, and decreased firmness. Though many sufferers of these signs of aging turn to artificial fillers, one option they may want to consider is facial fat grafting.
Facial fat grafting, otherwise known as volume replacement, is used in conjunction with other elements of facial rejuvenation, which includes face lift and eye surgery, skin management, laser, etc. In facial fat grafting, the surgeon removes small amounts of fat from one part of the body (for instance, the belly or thighs), and transfers it to a region of the face. Fat can be injected in the cheeks, the under-eye area, the lips, the nasolabial folds (which run from the edge of the nostrils to the corners of the mouth), and more. Facial fat grafting is a minimally invasive procedure and is a great way to fix problems of aging such as hollowness and sagging.
The use of fat is a good alternative to artificial fillers (Restylane, Juvederm and Radiese being the more commonly used). When the filler is artificial, there is a risk of the body having an adverse reaction to it. However, if the filler is made of the patient’s own fat, this likelihood doesn’t exist. Fat feels and looks more natural, and is longer lasting than artificial fillers. The longevity of fat grafts in faces is two to three years, as opposed to fillers, which typically last just 6-12 months.
Facial fat grafting is done under local anesthesia. The procedure is a multi-step process: the fat is harvested, purified, and then transferred (injected) into desired areas. The live fat cells are injected in pearl-like groups with a small needle or a small-diameter cannula. Though the latter technique takes more time, it is said to increase the longevity of the fat cells.
The ideal candidate for facial fat grafting is a person in good health, with realistic expectations for the results of the treatment. Consulting with a certified plastic surgeon is the best way to discuss your condition and expectations.
One of the major downsides to facial fat grafting is that the body will eventually, to some degree, re-absorb portion the fat. The amount of absorption can vary from patient to patient and depends on a plethora of other factors, including the technique used to harvest and inject the fat, the site where the fat was injected, the patient’s metabolism and age, and how the area is cared for following the treatment. Risks of treatment can include bruising, irregularities, infection, and fat embolism.
The best way to ensure a positive result is a consult with the right doctor. If you are considering facial fat grafting, be sure to seek out a doctor who has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), and who has proven results and experience. Though no doctor can guarantee zero complications, visiting a good, accredited doctor increases the likelihood that you will be happy with the results of your treatment for a long time.