Fat transfer, which is also called autologous fat transplantation or lipotransfer, is a non-invasive procedure that restores youthful fullness to facial features using a patient’s own fat cells. This procedure is a popular alternative to synthetic facial fillers since the results are more permanent, and yet much more natural because it comes from your own body.
Additionally, fat cells have recently received a great deal of attention because they have the highest concentration of stem cells in our bodies. When this stem cell-rich fat is harvested from one part of the body and injected into another, the stem cells help to stimulate tissue regeneration. Studies have shown that these stem cells can even improve surface skin texture. Keep reading to learn more about the fat transfer procedure and find out if it may be right for you.
Fat transfer is a minimally-invasive procedure and can be done awake in the office or with sedation as a same day surgery. Both the recipient site (area to be treated) and the donor site (the area from which fat is taken) are anesthetized with a local anesthetic. We select the donor site from where your excess fat is most tightly concentrated, such as the thighs, abdomen, or flank region. The fat is carefully removed from the donor site using a small tube attached to a syringe. Once the fat is removed, it is processed to isolate the crucial cells and then re-injected into the recipient sites with a specialized technique designed to maximize fat survival. This process is repeated until the desired correction has been achieved.
Pressure bandages are applied to the donor site(s) and sometimes to the recipient site(s) to prevent bruising and swelling. Patients are usually up and around immediately following the fat injection procedure; however we recommend no exercise or strenuous activity for two weeks after treatment. There is minimal pain associated with the procedure and any discomfort can be controlled with oral medication. Initially the area may look over-corrected due to swelling; however this should subside within a few weeks.
The results from the fat transfer procedure can last many years. Although there may be some absorption of the fat during the first couple months after the procedure, the end result is extraordinary. Some patients find that they benefit from more than one treatment session, especially in areas of movement (i.e. lips).
There are many benefits associated with fat transfer, including:
Permanency - Fat transferred to the face can last for many years, which gives the procedure a degree of permanence that synthetic facial fillers cannot achieve without significant risks.
Cost Effectiveness - Fat transfer can be very cost effective, and especially when compared to the cost of repeated treatments with synthetic fillers.
Natural - Fat transfer is non-invasive and is a more natural alternative to a facelift. Because it is your own body's fat, there is no chance for rejection and the skin feels normal. Additionally, the stem cells in the transferred fat work with your own body to gradually restore a youthful appearance to your skin's surface.
Every medical procedure has risks. There are general risks such as pain, bruising, or reaction to medication. Specific to fat transfer, our main concern is to avoid irregularities in contour and to get the best symmetry possible with the opposite side of the body. There may be 1/4" scar marks at the incision sites, but in most patients nothing is visible after healing is complete. Fluid accumulations under the skin are rare, and can usually be drained quickly and easily. Over or under correction is also a consideration that we work hard to avoid. It is important to keep these risks in mind and balance them against the possible benefits while making your decision about the procedure.
Most anyone is a candidate for fat transfer. Oftentimes we do not realize just how much fat volume is lost as we age. If you are interested in learning more about fat transfer treatment or to find out if you are a candidate, call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Enzer.