As people age, they can develop fine lines and creases in their face, particularly in areas that are impressionable because of facial expressions. Those “laugh lines” are anything but funny and the crow’s feet under your eyes may be getting under your skin, so to speak. The reason for this happening is due in large part to a loss of elasticity and when the underlying tissue starts to break down, it can take away from the plumpness and fullness of the skin’s natural appearance.
Fat transfers are known as one rejuvenation strategy to restore the face in a relatively painless and simple way and without the need for major surgery. The injections can be done easily with a local anesthesia and with nominal downtime to the patient, meaning they can be ready to present their newly restored face within a few days instead of waiting weeks, such as the case with a facelift procedure.
Fat injections will transfer fat and stem cells from one area of the body to the face. This will restore lost volume, which is one of the main components apparent in facial aging. The stem cells will aid in collagen production and skin rejuvenation.
Fat Injection Techniques
Fat injections have names such as fat grafting, fat transfers or fillers for the face. It works by taking fat from one source of the body that has extra volume and “moving” it to the face in order to restore fine lines and wrinkles or furrowed brows, creases and other undesirable characteristics. This can yield a long lasting and natural result that is relatively safe to accomplish because it uses the body’s natural fat stores to replace damaged tissues.
In order to harvest the fat from one area of the body, the surgeon will use a special liposuction tool called a “cannula”. It is sterilized and localized from targeted zones, in which a topical numbing solution may be applied to ease the discomfort associated with retrieving the fat deposits. After the purification, which involves using a centrifuge to spin the fat and remove imperfections, the fat is repositioned to the areas predetermined to need corrective fillers. The doctor will use a needle to inject the fat into the creases and wrinkles, creating a grid along those areas. He then massages the fat into the appropriate places until a satisfactory contour is made.
The entire fat injection procedure may need to be repeated a few times in order to achieve the goals of the patient, but one session is often enough to produce the desired results. Swelling usually takes place after facial fat injections but will resolve itself within a few weeks’ time. The degree of swelling depends upon how much fat is injected and which areas of the face they are applied to. It also depends upon the individual person and their ability to heal.
This technique is the most widely used because fat is one of the body’s most naturally tolerated fillers, much more so than synthetic fillers. The applications are safe, far reaching and natural looking to the naked eye, often lasting a long time. In fact, many surgeons opt for fat fillers as a safe alternative to revise scars, fill in skin depressions or to change the lines and contours in a person’s body.
Dr. Agullo will recommend combining the procedure with Protein Rich Plasma (PRP) injections. By combining the fat graft with PRP you can expect an increased take of the transferred fat and improved collagen formation.
Unlike more complicated surgical procedures, the doctor can perform fat injections without the need for general anesthesia. It is done as an easier outpatient service at an accredited and board certified plastic surgery clinic.
What are the risks of fat injections?
The risks associated with fat injections are less transparent than with other types of facial cosmetic procedures because there are no incisions to be made. Most people can accomplish the aesthetic procedure without having to go through with major anesthesia.
However, it does require the utmost skill and trust in your provider. Dr. Frank Agullo is a Clinical Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine as well as Affiliate Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. This means he is double board certified and more than qualified to accomplish the fat transfers successfully on behalf of his patients.
Risks are low, but could include:
- Swelling / bruising
- Temporary skin numbness or soreness
- Lumpy or skin imperfections underneath the surface
- Over or under correction of the defective region
Dr. Agullo is very detail oriented and takes every precaution to ensure his patient’s satisfaction in the fat transfers.
After the fat transfers, dressings may be applied to the injection sites. Gauze, tape or compressive dressings will help to minimize bleeding and you may want to apply ice packs to ease the swelling. Your doctor may recommend a massage program that you can do on your own to ensure optimal healing.
How much do fat injections cost?
Pricing varies depending on the extent of the treatment or surgery. You can see a list of the approximate prices of each procedure on our current fee schedule. Generally speaking, cosmetic plastic surgery is considered “elective” and is not covered by most insurance plans. The prices listed on our fee schedule represent the minimum cost of the procedures, including anesthesia and surgical facility fees, medical tests, garments, and recovery products. The cost of prescription medications, however, is not included. The exact price of each procedure can only be determined after a thorough consultation. All fees must be paid in full prior to the scheduled treatment. Your face is unique and therefore your treatment will be equally so. The doctor will prepare an estimate prior to fat transfers of the face, which will vary based on the amount of fat that is harvested and repositioned.
Flaws in your face that show signs of early aging can make you feel sad, tired, depressed or generally take away your naturally happy state of mind. When you look good, your body feels good to match the way your appearance reflects. Facial fat transfers can greatly improve your self-esteem and can even bring more self-worth and respect from others in the way they perceive you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fat Injections
Am I a candidate for fat injections?
You may be a candidate for fat injections if you wish to improve your facial appearance by replenishing areas of volume loss or reshaping the face. Candidates for fat injections are men and women who are in generally good health, do not smoke, and have realistic expectations of their results.
An alternative is dermal fillers.
Are fat injections painful?
Since your fat injections are performed using local anesthesia, you should not feel any pain during the procedure. You may feel soreness and mild discomfort during your recovery. Please take over-the-counter pain medication as needed.
When will I see my fat injection results?
Your results from fat injections will be visible as soon as the swelling subsides. For most patients, this takes about one week.
How long will my results from facial fat injections last?
Your results from facial fat injections are intended to be long lasting. However, facial fat injections cannot halt the aging process. Over the years, you may still lose facial volume. In that case, the fat injection procedure can be redone.
Will I be left with visible scarring after fat injections?
Since fat is injected using a small needle, you will not be left with any scars on your face. You may notice minimal scarring where the fat was taken, but this will fade over time.
What other procedures can be performed in combination with fat injections?
Fat injections can be performed in combination with other plastic surgery procedures to help patients achieve additional cosmetic goals. Fat injection is commonly performed in combination with facelift surgery. In young patients, it is often combined with face liposuction and FaceTite®, even buccal fat removal. Please speak with Dr. Agullo to determine if facial fat injections can be combined with your surgery.