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Fat Transfer To The Face

Fat transfer to the face has become a popular anti-aging and contour-altering technique, even among younger patients. Reasons for this increase in popularity vary, but advances in technique, the ability to add products to the fat to enhance the effects of the treatment, the desire to have a more permanent and natural filler, and the interest in treating aging defects and loss of volume early-on are some of the reasons we see patients seeking fat transfer.

I have been performing fat transfer to the face for more than two decades, and have developed strategies to help to preserve the enhancements over a longer period of time.

Exactly What Is Fat Transfer?

Fat transfer involves the harvesting, treatment, and transfer of fat from one area of the body to another. Fat is “harvested” or collected– generally by liposuction – from one area of the body, and placed in another area where there is a defect, deficiency, volume loss, or need for contour enhancement or adjustment. There are certain areas of the body that have better fat to harvest than others, and certain areas of the body where the fat transfer works better than others.

Often fat transfer is carried out where other dermal fillers, such as hyaluronic acids, are generally used – like the naso-labial folds or marionette lines (frown lines around the mouth). Care must be taken to place the fat in the correct tissue planes in order to achieve cosmetically attractive results and to perform the procedure safely. The doctors at Kent Cosmetic are well-trained and very knowledgeable about performing this procedure which can sometimes be technically challenging.

In What Areas of The Face Can You Perform Fat Transfer?

Almost any area where fillers can be placed can be used for fat transfer. That includes the naso-labial folds, frown lines around the mouth, crow’s feet, forehead, tear troughs, cheek area, and chin, – just to name the more common areas.

How Much Fat Does It Take To Correct The Defects?

It really depends on the patient and the results the patient is seeking. Usually, a beautiful result can be achieved with just 30 cc of fat (about 2 tablespoons).

How Much Fat Do You Need To Collect In Order To Have Enough To Transfer To The Face?

Obviously, we would not have a problem with finding enough fat in larger patients. However, finding enough fat to transfer in thin patients can be challenging. We often see very thin patients who want a fat transfer to the face. Once the fat is collected it has to go through a process to prepare it for transfer. During this process, some of the fat is lost and the volume of the initial aspirate decreases, so the amount of fat collected becomes less than the amount of fat available for injection. Fortunately, sometimes only 100 cc (about ½ cup) of harvested fat can be enough to achieve the results we want. So that means that we may have to collect 120 to 150 cc of fat – or about 1.2 to 2 times as much fat aspirated as what is needed for the transfer.

How Is The Fat Collected For Transfer?

Liposuction performed in a specific way is the technique used to collect fat for fat transfer. The doctor has to be careful not to disrupt the fat cells while they are being collected. Also, fat cells can die quickly if not handled correctly, so special handling is necessary in order to help make the technique successful.

What Has To Be Done To The Fat Cells To Prepare Them For Facial Fat Transfer?

The good fat cells have to be separated from other components that are in the liposuctioned collection of fat that gets aspirated with the fat during liposuction. This allows for the concentration of good fat cells and allows us to discard products that we do not want to include. The fat can be centrifuged to help separate the fat from some of the other elements.

Where Do You Get The Fat You Need To Transfer?

Fat is usually collected from the inner thigh, lower abdomen, flank or waist, or buttock areas. Sometimes we utilize fat from other areas where we have performed liposuction.

Can You Transfer All The Fat You Collect?

The amount of fat harvested can decrease by as much as 2/3 after collection. This is because the fat has to be processed in order to transfer it.

What Are The Risks Involved In Fat Transfer To The Face?

The most common risks for fat transfer to the face are under-correction, overcorrection, fat embolism, fat necrosis, fat nodules, uneven resorption leading to uneven areas, asymmetry, and infection.

How Often Do Complications Occur?

Complications are not common after fat transfer – perhaps about 5 %. Those include bleeding, hardening, loss of fat, and infection. But some serious complications can occur such as fat embolism (fat getting into the blood stream), fat necrosis (fat dying), blindness, and migration of fat to the brain causing some cerebral deficiencies. These complications are more rare – probably less than 1%.

How Long Does Fat Transfer To The Face Last?

Fat transfer to the face can last forever in some patients. In others, it may last for years but not forever. However the face and body continue to age, so the effects can change over time as the face continues to lose fat, collagen, and bone. Fat grafting lasts much longer than dermal fillers.

What Are Other Benefits Of Autologous Fat Transfer To The Face?

Transferring fat to the face can add volume to defects, remove wrinkles, treat sagging skin, and even enhances the quality of the skin around the transfer and gives it a more youthful appearance.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Facial Fat Transfer?

Usually, you will be well enough to go out after one week. You may still have some minimal swelling and/or bruising but not much. It may take 3 to 4 weeks though before you start to see the final results and several months before the full effects of the volume enhancement, skin rejuvenation, and contour symmetry all fall into place.

Is There Another Name For Fat Transfer?

Yes. Fat transfer is also known as fat grafting or autologous fat grafting and facial fat transfer.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used For Fat Transfer To The Face?

We can easily use local anesthesia for fat transfer. Sometimes patients are given a mild sedative or use a gas machine they can breathe into for additional comfort during the procedure.

Can Thin Patients Have Enough Fat For Fat Transfer?

There are specific areas of the body where we can almost always get a reasonable amount of fat to use. Those areas include the inner thigh, lower abdomen, and flank – even in thin patients

How Much Does Fat Transfer To The Face Cost?

Since we usually do not need a lot of fat for facial fat grafting, the cost is less than with larger liposuction procedures. There is an extra charge due to the need for processing the fat and then the transfer procedure. The entire procedure can cost between $2500 – $4500.

Can You Do Other Treatments With The Fat Grafting?

Yes. We sometimes add PRP with the fat to help enhance the outcome of the autologous fat transfer.

If you are interested in more information about fat transfer to the face or have more questions, please make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Dolores Kent by calling 424-390-9876.