Autologous fat transfer (also referred to as fat transfer) is an method of facial rejuvenation. This procedure involves the removal and relocation of the patient’s own body fat to plump up an area that has lost volume after aging. Autologous refers to the use of one’s own fat cells. This is a cosmetic procedure which can be used to rejuvenate the face, augment the cheeks or lips, or correct problems such as hollowness around the eyes. Fat cells can also be used to augment facial scars from acne or trauma, and improve skin texture and firmness. Dr. Nicole Schrader has been performing this cosmetic procedure for many years with great success.
FAQs About Facial Fat Grafting
What is autologous fat transfer facial rejuvenation?
It is a safe and natural procedure for filling lines and depressions in the face. It is a two step procedure, typically performed in the office under local topical anesthesia. First the fat is harvested from one area of the body through gentle liposuction. Areas of the body that are often targeted for harvesting due to excess fat are the abdomen, thighs or buttocks. The harvested fat is then carefully isolated and cleansed. The carefully prepared fat is then injected into the target site, similar to a filler injection.
Does it matter from which site the fat is harvested?
No studies have shown significant differences in viability based on harvest site. There is also no significant difference in success of transfer if the cells are harvested from different body sites.
What can be treated with this process?
Fat grafting can be used to eliminate smile lines, frown lines, marionette lines, wrinkles, furrows, and hollows in the face. It is a method of facial fat sculpting to restore contouring to cheeks, chin, and the under eye area. This cosmetic procedure can also be used to address scars or depressions, such as those from acne.
What should I expect postoperatively?
Following fat transfer you can expect to be bruised and sore at the treatment site as well as the donor site. This may last up to two weeks. The treatment site may look slightly overfilled initially because of the swelling associated with the procedure. The swelling at the treated site will subside and the final results will emerge in three to four months.
What are the risks of fat grafting?
Complications from fat grafting are rare. Some of the risks are infection, bruising, hematoma, lumps, cystic change and calcification. Fat grafting may result in asymmetry, irregularity and resorption at some areas which can be easily corrected. Some of the facial areas need only one fat injection for noticeable and long-lasting improvement, whereas others will require more than one fat transfer to be adequately corrected. It is considered a low-risk procedure that can be used to correct soft-tissue defects with minimal discomfort for patients.
What is recovery like following a facial fat sculpting procedure?
Recovery following fat grafting is relatively fast and easy compared to other cosmetic surgery procedures. There may be some bruising and swelling at the site of the fat harvesting, which can be treated with ice and an over the counter pain reliever. Most patients can move about and engage in normal activities the same day of the injections.
Are the results permanent?
There are many factors that come into play that determine how long fat grafting lasts. Your body naturally absorbs fat. The average absorption rate is around 5%, and may occur during the first six months. Some patients may require a second touch up procedure. The effects of facial fat grafting are very long-lasting – it lasts significantly longer than cosmetic injectables. Aging is an ongoing process, and if needed fat grafting can be repeated. The average patient receives 1-2 treatments to achieve the desired results.
What is the advantage of fat grafting vs filler injection?
Fat grafting gives a very natural looking result. The harvesting typically yields a greater volume of material to be injected, and the results obtained from fat grafting tend to be longer lasting than filler injections. Because the fat is harvested from the patient being injected, there is no risk of rejection.
PRP and Fat Transfer
Dr. Schrader often uses platelet rich plasma as an addition to the harvested fat. This plasma is known as a natural reservoir of growth factors to add to the fat transfer. Research has shown that the addition of PRP to the fat grafting process increases fat cell survival. Also, studies have shown that the addition of the platelet rich plasma results in a reduction of bruising and swelling that may occur following the procedure.
Who is a good candidate for fat transfer?
In general, fat transfer candidates are adults who wish to diminish or eliminate the appearance of wrinkles, creases, furrows, smile lines or frown lines, marionette lines, or depressions in the face. The safety of the autologous fat transfer technique ensures that there are no restrictions associated with allergies. However, at your initial consultation with Dr. Schrader, you should be sure to disclose all of your medical history and current habits such as smoking and use of blood-thinners, medications or supplements.
Are there any preparatory procedures that need to be completed prior to fat grafting?
Dr. Schrader performs the majority of the fat grafting procedures under local anesthesia only, not general anesthesia that would put the patient to sleep. It is performed as an outpatient procedure at her Princeton office.
What else is significant about fat cell transfer?
Physicians and scientific research have demonstrated that the frequency of stem cells in fatty tissue can be 2500 times greater than the frequency of similar cells in bone marrow. These cells have been used for therapy of chronic diseases.
Is fat cell harvesting different from regular liposuction?
Yes, the harvesting techniques for the two procedures are performed differently. When fat cells are being harvested for the purpose of fat grafting, a gentle, manual method is required. No lasers are used. This method of careful harvesting secures the viability and ensures that this tissue preserves the regenerative cells present in the harvested fat.