Fat Transfer Injections
Many people today are trying hard to lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. Of course, keeping your weight appropriate is a wonderful goal that helps you achieve your aesthetic goals and will also pay big dividends for cardiac health. However, from the standpoint of facial aesthetics, there is a tough tradeoff. As our face ages there are three things that happen simultaneously: facial tissues sag (which can be addressed with a facelift), the skin develops wrinkles and age spots (which can be addressed with Botox® Cosmetic, laser skin treatments, etc), and the face slowly losses volume and becomes somewhat hollow appearing. It is this last factor of facial devolumization that I am discussing on this page.
What can fat transfer injections achieve?
There are some instances in which fat transferred into areas of the face can drastically improve the overall facial appearance and lead to a more youthful and rejuvenated look. When we lose weight in the face, it can appear hollow and aged. To make matters worse, as we age tissues descend and the skin thins out and forms a variety of lines and wrinkles (due to fat loss, facial expressions made throughout the years, sun exposure, smoking, genetics, etc.). Fat transfer injections (also known as microlipoinjections) restore lost volume and sculpt your face into its previous youthful and vibrant self. Fat injections are non-invasive (meaning they do not require a linear incision) and can benefit those looking to smooth out wrinkles, lines and folds in the skin. Filler products such as Restylane®, Perlane®, Juvederm®, Sculptra Aesthetic® can also be used to increase facial volume, but they are only temporary.
Limitations of Fat Transfer Injections
Fat transfer injections offer potentially longer lasting results. However, there is an important caveat about how long the fat lasts. The reality is that while in many cases the fat transfer can last a long time, and potentially forever, there is a reasonable percentage of cases in which the transferred fat absorbs partially or in some cases, totally. I use the latest techniques to perform a fat transfer procedure and am often very happy with how fat transfer can improve a patient’s appearance. However I, like all other providers who perform fat transfer have experienced the disappointment of having a wonderful result slowly evaporate as the patient fat transfer absorbs. It is not possible to predict which patient’s fat transfer will “take” and which will not. As with all aspects of my practice, the critical issue is to communicate transparently about the pros and cons of this procedure. Nothing in aesthetic surgery can be guaranteed and this is also the case with fat transfer procedures.
During your fat transfer injection consultation, we will discuss whether you are a good candidate, review fat transfer before and after photos and examine the procedure at length. A good candidate is a healthy man or women with limited facial volume, seeking to plump up areas such as the lips, upper eyelids, temples, cheeks, jowls, tear trough, and nasolabial folds. Fat transfer injections can also be used to fill in depressed areas and improve the appearance of scars. Finding a specialized and highly trained doctor is strongly recommended due to the nature of the procedure. Too much fat transferred into the face can cause an overdone and unnatural looking appearance. On the other hand, too little fat transferred to the face can increase the chance of long term fat absorption reducing or eliminating the impact of the result. My philosophy is to stay conservative (while transferring enough fat to optimize the opportunity for an outstanding result) to create a youthful, yet natural looking result.
How is fat transferred?
On the day of surgery, general anesthesia or IV sedation will be administered. Fat is then harvested from the buttocks, thighs or belly using liposuction (where fat tends to accumulate). Next cells are separated and cleansed and the usable fat cells are injected into sunken areas of the face in need of volume. The length of the procedure varies depending on how much fat needs to be removed and where. Common side effects after treatment include bruising and swelling, which typically lasts a couple days. It is important to note that transferred fat should not migrate or detach onto other areas. Once injected, fat should remain stable. If there is any uneasiness after the procedure, an over the counter pain reliever such as Tylenol may be recommended and sometimes a narcotic pain medicine. Facial fat transfer injections can be performed at Sewickley Valley Hospital, St. Clair Hospital or West Penn Hospital. Other surgeries that may be performed in conjunction with a fat transfer procedure include a Facelift, Eyelid Lift or Chin Augmentation.
The cost of facial fat transfer injections depends on the size and location of the area(s) needing volume. Please call our office at 412.621.FACE to get an approximate quote of what this procedure might cost you. We conveniently accept cash, care credit, checks, and all major credit cards. Since fat transfer injections are considered cosmetic, they are typically not covered by insurance.