As we age, our facial skin and soft tissue goes through a variety of changes. One of those changes is we begin to lose volume. This can hasten the look of aging. Where once a youthful appearance was, now begins to look tired, harsh or deflated as a result of decreased volume and increased hollowing. Traditional surgical techniques focused on lifting do not fully address this issue and volume replacement is necessary.
Areas most susceptible to volume loss include the cheeks, lower eyelids, perioral region, lips, jawline and temples. Mild to moderate volume loss can be treated with dermal fillers – such as Voluma®, Juvederm®, Juvederm Ultra®. These fillers are safe and effective but also temporary. Facial fat transfer, also referred to as autologous fat grafting, liposculpting or fat injections, can provide a permanent, more cost effective alternative.
Fat transfer involves taking fat from one area of your body, typically your abdomen or outer thighs, and carefully placing it in specific areas of your face to restore its youthful contours and shape. Fat transfer is an excellent adjunct with other procedures but can also serve as a stand alone treatment. Dr. Hall is well trained in performing facial fat transfer, which results in a natural, well-balanced appearance
Fat transfer is typically performed as outpatient surgery under local and light IV sedation. The procedure starts with harvesting fat cells from your abdomen or outer thighs with a small cannula. The harvested fat is then processed through a specialized filtration system, which removes any blood, anesthetic or debris, and leaves pure, nutrient rich autologous fat and adipose derived stem cells. The harvested stem cells and fat are then injected into the designated facial areas, restoring volume and contributing to a more youthful, rejuvenated look.
Patients go home the same day of their procedure and are advised to rest as much as possible. Patients are asked to minimize their facial expressions for the first five days to allow the fat to establish a blood supply and increase survival. Bruising and swelling is normal after fat transfer. Patients are typically social approximately two to three weeks after their procedure depending on the extent of their procedure. Any residual bruising or swelling can be concealed with makeup. Light physical activity can begin at two weeks and full, unrestricted activity at three weeks.
Sometimes the effect of volume loss in aging can be overlooked by loose or sagging skin. Dr. Hall will be able to determine if you are a good candidate for volume rejuvenation at your consultation and how best to accomplish this goal. Candidates for fat transfer should be in good overall health with a stable overall weight. Significant fluctuations in weight can affect the results from their surgery and it is recommended that patients looking to lose weight should do so prior to fat transfer.
There are no incisions with fat transfer. There is a small puncture site near the donor area that is hidden in a natural skin crease in addition to a few small needle punctures placed carefully on the face to allow injection of the fat. Patients heal from these puncture sites great without any scarring or concerns.
The results from fat transfer depend largely on the “take” or survival of the injected fat. Fat is a living cell and needs to establish a blood supply once grafted from the donor site to the face. The fat that does survive and establish a blood supply is permanent. However, the face continues to age and the factors contributing to volume loss continue. Typically, the procedure can erase 5-15 years from one’s appearance.
The perioral region and lips tend to have less reliable results with fat transfer compared to other areas. This is due to the dynamic nature of the lips and mouth which limits the ability of the fat to establish a blood supply. Often times, these area needs to be further addressed with laser resurfacing or dermal fillers.