WHAT IS FACIAL FAT AUGMENTATION?
The facial contours of youth transition gently from one area to another. As we age, our face loses volume and creases begin to appear where none existed before. Today, there are many options to restore facial volume, including Soft Tissue Fillers, Facial Implants and Fat Augmentation. With facial fat augmentation, your own fat cells are used to replace the volume that was lost in aging. Fat cells are harvested from the abdomen through an incision in the belly button and then injected into the areas of the face to create highlights and volume.
Fat Augmentation FAQ
Is it right for me?
Facial fat augmentation and synthetic soft tissue fillers essentially perform the same function: to replace lost volume in the face. So, if you have been happy with synthetic filers in the past, then fat augmentation may be for you. With comparable results, this technique offers a more cost-effective alternative. If you are not healthy enough to undergo sedation or general anesthesia then you are not a candidate for this procedure (but you may still choose soft tissue fillers).
Understanding the Procedure
Fat augmentation is typically performed in the operating room under conscious sedation or general anesthesia and is often done in combination with other procedures. A very small incision (3 mm) is made in the belly button and gentle liposuction is performed. This is a special type of liposuction that is not done to reduce the size of the belly. Rather, this procedure preserves the integrity of the fat cells to enhance their survival. The harvested fat is washed by hand and injected into areas of the face.
What to expect after the procedure
After facial fat augmentation there is a mild bruising and swelling in the areas that were augmented with the fat. It is recommended that patients take off 2-3 days from work. As mentioned above, some of the fat will not survive the procedure, and the apparent volume will decrease for the first few months. However, after this period there is often a slight rebound in the fat volume as the cells establish themselves.
There are many benefits of fat augmentation over traditional injectable soft tissue fillers. One major benefit is that we are using your own fat tissue to replace lost facial volume. Therefore, there is no risk of rejecting or reacting to the tissue. Another benefit of Liposculpture is that it lasts longer than out-of-the-box soft tissue fillers. While synthetic fillers can last 8-16 months, fat is living tissue that survives and provides augmentation for the rest of your life. There is also anecdotal data that adult stem cells are also transferred and may have a revitalizing effect on the overlying skin, though the mechanism is unknown.
As with any procedure, bruising, infection and poor results can occur. Not all of the fat that is transferred in this procedure will survive–it is estimated that about 50% of the fat transferred to areas around the mouth and 80% of that transferred around the eyes will survive the procedure. Additionally, patient variables such as smoking and diabetes effect how much fat survives in any given patient. Contour irregularities (bumps) and asymmetry can also occur, though they genereally resolve with time. Very rarely, fat can abnormally grow (hypertrophy), which may require treatment.
Case Study A
Many patients undergo multiple procedures at the same time to take advantage of cost savings and to heal all-at-once. This patient underwent brow lift, blepharoplasty and fat transfer to the eyes and cheeks.
Case Study B
This patient desired facial fat transfer to the area under the eyes to help fill in the depressions that were contributing to dark circles. The ‘after’ photo on the right is 2 years after the procedure.