Our faces gradually reflect signs of aging.  It’s unavoidable for both men and women.  Fine lines and wrinkles are often the first to appear, followed by deepening of expressive lines, loss of youthful facial fullness, and loose skin.  Facial fat grafting may be an effective option to restore youthful volume to the face and smooth away wrinkles for a more refreshed appearance.

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What is Facial Fat Grafting?

Fat grafting has gained popularity in recent years and has developed many applications within facial rejuvenation. Fat grafting, fat injection, and fat transfer are synonymous terms which refer to harvesting a patient’s own fat stores for injection within a different body region to augment volume.

Fat grafting may be used to soften facial rhytids (wrinkles), such as marionette lines and nasolabial folds (smile lines). It may augment the jowl region to improve jawline contour, improve the appearance of depressed scars, and restore volume in the periorbital (eye) and midface region for facial rejuvenation. Because this procedure uses your own natural fat cells, you will not have to worry about the risk of allergic reaction.  An added benefit is reducing fatty tissue at the donor sites.

Overall, facial fat grafting may address the following issues:

  • Loss of volume in the midface region.
  • Shallow scarring from acne.
  • Creased or recessed facial features.
  • Early formation of jowls along with jawline.
  • Asymmetries of specific features.

Individuals who wish to rejuvenate their appearance without using surgical implants or fillers, and who wish to achieve long-lasting results can often benefit from facial fat grafting. Ideal candidates will be overall physically healthy, non-smokers, with realistic expectations for the outcome of their procedure.  Indications and outcomes are similar to those of soft tissue injectables, such as hyaluronic acid fillers.  A consultation appointment with Dr. Power is the best way to determine candidacy.

How is Facial Fat Grafting Performed?

Facial fat grafting is performed on an out-patient basis under either conscious sedation or general anesthetic. The first step of this procedure is to determine a donor area, which will be used to extract the excess fat. Fat is most commonly harvested from the abdomen, thighs, or hip region through small volume liposuction. The amount of fat collected will be dependent on the desired outcome. The fat is then carefully prepared by processing in a centrifuge, filtration, or rinsing. This results in pure liquid fatty tissue. This purified fat is then precisely injected within defined regions to create the desired results. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Power has the skills and experience to correctly perform facial fat grafting, resulting in natural-looking and beautiful results.

Facial Fat Grafting Recovery

Patients may experience swelling and bruising of both the donor and treated areas. Cold compresses and sleeping with your head elevated on 2-3 pillows can help to minimize swelling during early healing.  The majority of swelling resolves over the first 6 weeks and final results gradually become apparent by one year post-operatively.  Once the injected fat has achieved a blood supply at its new location, results may be more long-standing and potentially even permanent. There is typically little downtime and patients may generally return to work within one week of surgery, depending on the size and location of each treatment area.  Wearing sunscreen is important, particularly over the first year, to lower risk of permanent pigmentation changes.  Dr. Power will provide you with specific instructions regarding recovery to ensure that you are pleased with your final outcome.

Facial Fat Grafting FAQs

Are Results from Facial Fat Grafting Permanent?

Results may be long-lasting and potentially even permanent when a new blood supply has been established to the inject fat. When facial fat grafting is performed, the treatment area is initially overfilled with extra fat cells to compensate for the cells that will not survive. The goal is for enough healthy fat cells to establish a blood supply, becoming permanent in the face.

Will Weight Fluctuations Impact My Results?

If a large amount of weight is gained or lost, the newly transferred fat cells will expand and shrink like any other fat cell, which can affect the results of your procedure. It is recommended that patients maintain a stable weight before and after their procedure to enjoy long-lasting results.

Is Fat Transfer a Weight Loss Option?

No, fat transfer/fat grafting is not a weight loss procedure. While it does involve some body contouring when collecting fat from donor sites, weight loss is not the focus of the procedure.

What are the Risks of Facial Fat Grafting?

As with any invasive procedure, facial fat grafting comes with some risks. These include infection, complications with anesthesia, over or under correction, asymmetry, and fat calcification. However, when this procedure is correctly performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Power, these risks are less likely to occur.

How long does facial fat grafting last?

Facial fat grafting may be permanent. The longevity of your results largely depends on the number of fat cells which establish a healthy blood supply and survive long-term.

What are the side effects of fat grafting?

The primary side effect of facial fat grafting is swelling. This should subside within one to two weeks. Patients may also experience bruising or soreness.

Which is better fat transfer or implants?

Fat transfer is typically recommended when patients want to restore or add volume to areas of soft tissues, such as the cheeks or lips. Implants may be used in areas such as the cheekbones or chin to adjust the facial contour. The best option for you will vary depending on your aesthetic goals. A consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon is necessary.

What to expect during facial fat grafting?

The facial fat grafting procedure is performed by first removing fat from a donor area such as the abdomen or thighs using liposuction, then processing this fat so it can be injected into the intended treatment area. The procedure may be completed under local or general anesthesia depending on the extent of surgery.

What does recovery from facial fat graft surgery look like?

Facial fat grafting recovery involves swelling, bruising, and some soreness. These side effects subside relatively quickly, and most patients require only one to two weeks of downtime. The majority of swelling should dissipate over the first few weeks and final healing gradually occurs over one year.

Where is the fat taken from?

The fat used in facial fat grafting may be collected from donor areas including the abdomen, thighs, hips, or other areas.

How much fat is harvested for grafting?

The amount of fat harvested or transferred will vary depending on the intended results, which are unique to each patient. As an example, injections to the temple area may require up to 8-15 mL of fat . Dr. Power can explain how much fat can safely be removed through liposuction and the amount required to achieve your intended results.

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