Fat Grafting for the Face
Fat grafting of the face is a procedure used to replace lost volume around the eyes and in the cheeks. As people age, the face becomes thinner. As early as age 30, the face loses volume and, for some people, that leads to hollow areas under the eyes and sunken cheeks. Patients who want to regain their youthful fullness can do so with fat grafting of the face.
Fat grafting is the process of taking fat from one part of the body and inserting it into another part of the body. It is also called autologous fat transfer when a person’s own fat is used. Autologous fat transfer is optimal because the body is more likely to accept the transferred fat without any complications. With artificial injections, there is a chance of an allergic reaction.
Fat grafting of the face starts with liposuction on a fattier part of the body, like the thighs or buttocks. A small amount of subcutaneous fat is removed using a very small instrument called a cannula. The fat is then processed to remove fluids and blood to get the purest possible fat. This processed fat is then strategically injected into the face using a micro-injection technique. No incisions are made and the procedure will not cause scars on the face. There may be a tiny scar where the fat was extracted, which can be easily hidden by clothing.
Multiple, small injections are made around the eyes and in the cheeks, for example, to fill out the skin evenly. Fat injections in the face can even minimize the appearance of wrinkles by placing more fat under the skin to smooth out the external layer of skin.
Fat grafting of the face works best when the fat is placed in areas that tend to move less, like the cheeks. Fat placed around the eyes may not last as long because the eyes are involved in most facial expressions. Not all grafted fat remains where it was injected. Some of it will be absorbed by the body in the first three months following the procedure. The remaining fat can last three years. Results vary based on how the patient’s body responds to the graft.
After undergoing fat grafting of the face, a patient may feel tenderness at the injection sites but this is temporary. The procedure is done while the patient is under local anesthesia and sometimes a light oral sedative. Commonly, the patient will experience swelling and some discomfort following the procedure, but it should resolve in a few days. The extent of these side effects will vary according to the patient and the scope of the procedure performed. Patients can usually return to normal activities in a week.
The face will appear fullest within the first few weeks after the procedure until the body assimilates it in its new location.