Fat transfer is one of the newest and most exciting alternatives to surgery. If you feel dissatisfied with your reflection in the mirror, facial fat transfer is an effective, affordable and safe method of facial rejuvenation. Today’s cosmetic and plastic surgeons have a wider range of options than ever before to help patients achieve their facial appearance goals.
In this article, learn more about what a facial fat transfer is, how it works, who is a good candidate and how to take your first steps towards experiencing the great results a facial fat transfer can provide.
Facial Fat Transfer Procedure
Facial fat transfer is the common name for a procedure called fat grafting, fat injections, autologous fat transfer and micro-lipoinjection. While the terms may sound different, in fact each refers to the same procedure.
During a facial fat transfer, fat is transferred from one area of your body to another. In other words, if you have ever looked in the mirror and wished with all your heart that you could just move the fat in one area of your physique to another, well, now you really can do this!
Why Have a Facial Fat Transfer?
As the human body ages, the layer of skin just beneath the surface begins to get thinner and dry out. Along with aging, your body begins to lose its ability to produce collagen, the protein that gives your skin its structure and causes it to look fresh, youthful and wrinkle-free.
When this occurs, your skin needs your help to recapture its former glow and beauty. By taking fat from one area of your body and transferring it (by injection/graft) into areas of your face that need it, you can help your skin reclaim its former glory. Other procedures like skin care treatments, can also be used as a treatment for these age related skin issues.
Where Is the Fat Transferred From in the Body?
Areas commonly used as fat donors include the jowls (the areas just underneath and around the chin above the neck), the thighs, the tummy and the buttocks).
While in theory fat can be transferred from nearly anywhere on the body to the facial area, these areas are most frequently used either on their own or as part of a complementary cosmetic procedure.
Where Can Fat Be Transferred To in the Facial Area?
Common areas of the face that are treated during a facial fat transfer procedure include these:
- Under the eyes.
- The cheeks.
- The chin.
- The lips.
- In between the eyebrows.
- The forehead.
- The jawline.
- The temples.
- Around the nose.
- Around the mouth (such as “laugh lines”).
- Around or beneath areas that are wrinkled, sunken, sagging or scarred.
Facial Fat Transfer Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked patient questions.
What Are the Advantages of a Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?
There are several significant advantages:
- This procedure takes minimal time to complete and requires no downtime during recovery.
- There is no risk of rejection since the fat being used is your own.
- The procedure is much less invasive than a face lift and similar surgical options.
Who Makes the Best Candidate for a Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?
The ideal candidate for a facial fat transfer procedure is someone who is in great health otherwise and has reasonable expectations for the procedure itself.
As well, if any of the following currently apply to you, you may want to speak with your cosmetic surgeon about postponing your facial fat transfer procedure to a later date?
- You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or currently nursing.
- Your facial skin is prone to pigmentation changes, keloid scarring or rashes.
- You are currently being treated for any facial skin disorder.
- You are currently taking medications that thin the blood or resist clotting.
- You are recovering from a serious illness and currently have a lowered immune system response.
- You are planning to have or are now recovering from any procedure to any part of your face.
- You are a heavy smoker or are not willing to stop smoking for a period of time before and after the facial fat transfer procedure (smoking heavily can interfere with your body’s ability to heal itself quickly and effectively).
So long as none of these conditions apply to you and your cosmetic surgeon and primary care physician feel you have sufficient physical healthy to facilitate an optimal outcome, you are very likely to be a good candidate for a facial fat transfer procedure.
What Should I Expect During My Facial Fat Transfer Consultation?
After you identify your primary goals for having a facial fat transfer procedure, your next step is to schedule your initial consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. This can be both incredibly exciting and also very important to ensure your goals will be met.
Your consultation is your dedicated time to share your hopes and goals for having a facial fat transfer procedure. You can speak freely about what you feel dissatisfied with in your facial appearance and what you hope your procedure can provide.
During your consultation, you will be asked to provide a full individual and family medical history. You will also have an examination and your surgeon will take some “before” photographs and make some marks on those photographs to reflect your stated goals.
You will have a chance to ask all of your questions and to talk through how to prepare for your facial fat transfer procedure, find out what will happen during your procedure, learn more about what recovery is like and also ask about financing options if this is desired.
Before you leave your consultation, you will know what you need to do to prepare for your facial fat transfer procedure and you can even schedule the date for your procedure if you desire.
What Happens During a Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?
Most facial fat transfer procedures are done on an outpatient basis in the cosmetic surgeon’s office and require local anesthetic only.
On the day of your procedure, you will arrive at the office and staff will ensure you are comfortably situated in a room and prepared for your procedure.
Once the anesthetic has taken effect and you are completely comfortable, your surgeon will start the simple three-step fat transfer process as follows:
- The donor fat is removed from the area of your body you have selected.
- The donor fat is cleaned and prepared for re-injection.
- The donor fat is transferred to the site(s) identified during your consultation.
You will be free to return home the same day and may return to work the same day, the following day or as soon as you feel comfortable and ready to do so.
Will There Be Any Pain After a Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?
While there may be some slight discomfort at or around the treatment sites where the fat was injected, this can be easily managed with pain medication and will subside within a few days, if not sooner.
What is Recovery from a Facial Fat Transfer Like?
After your facial fat transfer procedure, you will be able to see and enjoy the results in as little as a few days’ time. For the first few days, you may experience some mild swelling, bruising or redness. You should follow your cosmetic surgeon’s recommendations for pain medication as needed to control any temporary discomfort.
After just a few days have passed, the swelling will recede and you will be looking at a new, refreshed and rejuvenated reflection. Happily, this is the image you will see looking back at you in the mirror for years to come or even permanently!
You will also be able to return to your regular daily activities fairly immediately, although it is always wise to refrain from intense exercise or heavy lifting until any swelling or discomfort in the treated areas has subsided.
Are There Risks or Possible Complications to a Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?
Happily, the risk of your body rejecting the donated fat is not a risk, since in this cutting-edge procedure, the fat being transferred is your own! In other words, since your body will immediately recognize the transferred fat as yours, it will readily accept it.
However, as with any type of procedure that involves incisions, there is always a risk of infection during a facial fat transfer procedure.
Aside from this known risk, other side effects, risks or complications are rare. In certain cases, the body may reabsorb the transferred fat, which can diminish the hoped-for results.
As well, certain patients may experience an allergic reaction to the anesthetic used (here, if you have any known allergies or reactions to certain medications, it is critical to let your surgeon know this in advance).
Some patients may also experience facial bleeding or a blood clot if a blood vessel is impacted during the transfer process. And some patients may have discoloration or scarring beyond what was expected.