Fat grafting is a surgical procedure in which one’s own fat is removed from one area of the body and then transferred or grafted into another area. The fat is generally taken from the abdomen or back and can be placed to various areas throughout the body such as the face, hands, breast or buttock.
As we age, we lose volume in our face, hands, breasts, buttock and other areas of our body. Loss of our natural support structures such as fat and collagen can lead to wrinkles and sagging. Facial rejuvenation with fat transfer helps restore full, round temples, cheeks and lips to create the appearance of youth and health. While volume augmentation of the breasts, buttocks and back of the hands creates or restores desirable contours. In addition, the stem cells that come along with the fat cells help stimulate changes in the surrounding tissues.
When utilized for facial rejuvenation, fat grafting fills in depressed areas, minimizes nasolabial folds, smooths hollows under the eyes and enhances cheekbones and jaw lines. It is also used to augment or enhance the natural contours of the body including the breasts and buttock or restore volume to the hands.
Facial rejuvenation with fat grafting replaces the facial volume we have lost as we age. Instead of getting filler or other synthetic products to restore your facial volume, fat grafting uses your own fat cells. Fat cells are removed from an area of your choice, cleaned and then transferred to your face to restore volume. With fat grafting you get the added benefit of stem cells within the fat, which help improve overall skin quality.
Breast augmentation using fat offers patients a natural alternative to breast implants, although there are some limitations. Breasts can be enlarged about 1 cup size in a single procedure using fat transfer, so women interested in a larger augmentation are better suited for breast implants or serial procedures. Good candidates for this procedure also need enough fat to harvest, usually from the abdomen, thighs, hips, or lower back. For those who are good candidates, however, fat transfer has the advantages of being a soft, natural, and permanent alternative to implants.
Gluteal (buttock) augmentation is also performed using the fat transfer technique. It is an option for patients who want to enhance the contours of their buttocks without implants.
Hand rejuvenation is performed in the same way as fat grafting to the face and body. Thin hands with exposed tendons are a sign of aging, with fat grafting this can be corrected.
The best candidates for fat grafting are men or women who have begun to notice a sallow appearance to the face, or decreased volume of the breasts or buttock. Successful fat grafting requires skin that is not too loose. Most patients are in their late 30s to 50s, but fat grafting can be successfully performed on people well into their 60s and 70s. If you are generally healthy, have a realistic view about the results that can be achieved with fat grafting, and have any of the following conditions, you may be a good candidate for the procedure:
Decreased breast volume
Loss of facial volume in isolated areas, regions, or globally
Wrinkles or furrows on your face or neck
Deep creases forming between the bottom of your nose and the corner of your mouth
A diminished jawline
Restoration of volume is like blowing up a partially filled balloon, revealing the smooth, youthful contours once again.
Depending on your goals, your procedure will take from 1 to 2 hours to complete and can be performed either under local anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation/general anesthesia. With general anesthesia, you will be completely asleep throughout the procedure. With local anesthesia, you will be awake and the areas to be treated will be numbed. The type of anesthesia used, the surgical facility, and other recommended procedures will be discussed with you at your initial consultation.
Your plastic surgeon will mark the areas of the face to be injected as well as the area or areas from which the fat grafts will be harvested. All the areas will be numbed with local anesthesia for comfort during and after the procedure. Only small, inconspicuous puncture sites are required for harvest and re-injection of the fat grafts.
Small packets of cells are layered from deep to superficial in the desired areas to restore volume or enhance shape. Once the transfer is complete, sutures are used to close the harvest site incision to improve healing.
Depending on the amount of fat removed, you will wear a compression garment to the area in which the fat was removed. You will be asked to walk frequently following your procedure. Your overall recovery will depend on the exact procedure performed.
Contact us, to discuss your options and see if fat grafting is right for you.