Fat transfer is a simple and relatively painless technique being performed under light sedation and local anaesthetic. The treatment involves the harvesting of micro fat filaments from an area of excess fat, such as the stomach, “saddle bags” or the inner thigh. It is then cleaned and prepared using specialized equipment, before transferring it to a part of the body that is lacking volume. The micro filaments are injected into these hollows and depressions, building up the lost volume. Each individual micro fat filament acts as a mini tissue transplant becoming fully integrated with, and part of, the surrounding tissue that they are introduced into. The resulting lift becomes a living, long lasting, fresh and natural looking enhancement which feels, moves and behaves in a completely normal and integrated manner .
Patients who benefit from fat grafting are people who desire augmentation or filling of volume-deficient areas. The most commonly grafted areas include the hands, face (including the lips), and depressions in the skin contour such as those that have developed following liposuction and scarring. Generally, patients who are considered for fat injection are in good health.
What areas of the face benefit from fat injections ?
Fat injections are commonly used to rejuvenate the lips, bags under the eyes, cheeks and chin. Patients may be familiar with the use of fat injections for lip augmentation, but there are many other uses in the face. For example, fat injections can also be used to lessen the lines around the mouth, fill in bags under the eyes, fill out the cheeks and chin (areas which might have otherwise used facial implants), or as an all purpose filler in the face.
Fat Injection Techniques
Fat is harvested using a special suction cannula using sterile technique. Once enough fat is obtained from the donor area, it is then purified. This often requires the use of a centrifuge which spins the fat and removes impurities. The fat is then placed into the areas requiring augmentation. The injection needle is usually passed in and out of the areas to be augmented multiple times. This create a “grid” of threads of fat graft. The areas that were injected may then be massaged by the surgeon to create a satisfactory contour. A dressing may then be placed. Either local (twilight) or general anesthesia may be used, depending on your surgeon’s preference.
Fat Injection Advantages
Fat injection or grafting is a technique that is growing in popularity. Fat is one of most well-tolerated fillers available to aesthetic surgeons, and thus has broad applications. It is natural-appearing, lasts a long time, and is safe. It is an effective filler used for changing body contour, revising scars, filling depressions created by liposuction, and rejuvenating the hands and face. Perhaps most importantly, it spares the patient the inherent risks associated with fillers derived from animals or cadavers.
Fat transfers can be used for buttocks augmentation, also known as the Brazilian butt lift. Another area which can benefit from a fat injection is the hands.
Fat Injection Complications
• Swelling: most of the swelling settles down within several weeks.
• Numbness of the skin overlying the donor and injected areas. This is usually temporary.
• Slight asymmetry or contour irregularity. This usually improves as the swelling resolves.
• Loss of fat viability, with resultant failure of the desired augmentation.
Fat Injection Recovery
Dressings may be placed on the injected areas. These dressings may include the use of tapes or compressive-type dressings. Your surgeon may request that you don’t sit or lie on injected areas for a prescribed period. Your surgeon may also instruct you regarding a massage program after the procedure.
The incisions for harvesting the fat (using the liposuction technique) involve narrow slits made around the abdomen (umbilicus), hips, buttocks or thighs. The fat injections are performed through even smaller slits which are hidden within facial skin creases that are already present.
Fat transfer usually takes one hour to complete depending on how much augmentation is necessary.
Any pain or discomfort associated with the fat transfer procedure is usually very minor.
Patients will experience mild swelling and mild bruising during the first three to five days . The final results of a particular fat transfer session cannot be determined in many cases before 1 to 2 months. If additional volume is desired another round of fat transfer may be scheduled.
Patients are usually able to return to work within three to five days after the fat transfer procedure.
Most exercise can be resumed within ten days after the fat transfer procedure.
Though all types of surgery carry potential risks, fat transfer is a relatively safe procedure. In rare cases, patients may note lumping of the fat in a particular area which is often more a reflection of the body’s healing process rather than a technical issue with the procedure. If this occurs, gentle massage may help to smooth the contour.