Forehead fat transfer is a procedure that involves grafting the patient’s own body fat to minimize wrinkles and add volume to the face, creating an anti-aging effect. The key to this procedure is harvesting the fat gently and manually in order to ensure a higher viability of usable fat cells. The processing of the fat is very important so it is essential that contaminants like body oils and blood are removed from the fat to ensure it is of the highest quality and purity before it is grafted.
The doctor injects a small portion of the refined fat into different layers of the forehead. The tricky part about the forehead is that it is composed of skin and a thin layer of muscle and bone. There is not a lot of soft tissue like the cheeks or the chin to embed the fat. Most patients need more than two sessions depending on how dramatic a change they want in the forehead. The forehead, like other parts of the face, can be injected with a very small microcannula so the vessels are not inadvertently injected which can cause problems.
Fat can be used from any part of the body but the quality of fat is often better from the abdomen and the thighs. Many patients ask to take the fat from their arms because they do not like flabby arms. However, the arms are not a high quality source of fat, unlike fat from the abdomen and the thighs. No matter where the fat is taken from, a filtration process such as Puregraft makes the most difference in getting the best results.
A good number of patients that want fat transfer to the forehead are Asians because it is a trend to have a fuller forehead in Korea and China. They want a fuller forehead to give more dimensions to the face because many Asians feel their faces are flat and they like the idea of having more of a three-dimensional shape to the face. They often want the procedure done in conjunction with other areas of the face such as the cheeks and sometimes the nose bridge and the chin.
Other potential patients are folks that have scars on their forehead and the area looks indented. Fat is used to fill it up. It can also be combined with scar supposition to break up the scar and then put the fat underneath. Patients with really deep scars across the forehead like to use fat transfer to improve the appearance of the forehead.
Some patients think it is also a wrinkle treatment but it really does not help combat wrinkles. Botox is still the best thing for wrinkles but the fat transfer does give more volume and it does look smoother. The fat transfer makes the wrinkles look less deep but it does not get rid of them because it is the function of the frontalis muscle that causes the wrinkles and the procedure does not paralyze the muscle. The treatment is not really for wrinkles as much as it is for shaping.
Fat transfer usually takes about an hour to fill the face and that includes the liposuction as well as the fat processing and the injection. Sometimes people need a second or third touch-up treatment that can be done four to six months after the first session.
A treatment that fat transfer to forehead can be compared to is facial implants. There are practices, mostly in Asia, that use silicone implants for the forehead or they use fillers and implants. However, it is risky to put an implant there because there are a lot of important sensory nerves in that area. A lot of patients have problems with sensation to the scalp from the implant. If there is a problem after the implant is taken out, it tends to look really bad so fat transfer is the safer option.
There are some people that use fillers but a lot of filler has to be used to actually fill up that area. Fat transfer is cheaper and there is more of a supply than fillers. It is hard to make the fillers as smooth as fat because fat is softer and can be molded better. The end result is better and patients see a smooth contour while people who use fillers can actually see the lumpiness a little bit.
If the patient is very skinny, a smoker or on the older side, the results are not as good. A lot of times, older patients need fat transfer but younger people see better results. A lot of times, one session is sufficient for younger patients while older patients might need two or three. In general, the ideal age range is from 20 to 48.
In terms of long or short-term complications, there are case reports that describe blindness. It is very rare but it has been reported. The procedure involves fat transfer as well as filler injections to the area so it comes down to how the doctor injects the patient. There are a lot of important arteries and blood vessels around the eyebrow area in the glabella region. If the filler or fat is inadvertently injected into the vessels, it can basically block one of the veins and the patient loses their eyesight.
The total recovery time is pretty fast. There will be some swelling after the injection so the patient will look more swollen than normal before the final results are visible. The first week is usually when the most swelling occurs. By the second week, most patients feel like they can go out and that they do not look weird.
A lot of times, the fat will resorb and patients will lose some of their volume. In general, using a filtration process can lead to a retention rate of about 50%. If the patient loses weight, some of the fat cells will be lost as well. Once the fat is transferred, it will act like other fat cells in the body because it is like a transplant.
Like any other procedure, it is important that the doctor sets realistic expectations with the patient. As mentioned earlier, it is not an ideal treatment for wrinkles and there are a few limitations when it comes to the age of the patient. An experienced doctor will make sure a patient has a realistic view of what can be accomplished before the patient makes the final decision to undergo the procedure.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA
Based on an exclusive interview with Goretti Ho Taghva, MD in Los Angeles, CA