Fat transfer allows us to remove fat cells from one area of the body via liposuction, purify them in a centrifuge, and then inject them into the face to add natural and permanent volume. On average, 65% of the fat cells injected will be reabsorbed by the body, but 35% will remain for several years. Facial fat transfer is highly effective when it comes to increasing facial volume and can also address pitted acne scars.
Fat transfer allows us to remove fat cells from one area of the body via liposuction, purify them in a centrifuge, and then inject them into the face to add natural and permanent volume. On average, 65% of the fat cells injected will be reabsorbed by the body, but 35% will remain for several years. Because the fat cells come from your own body, it is nearly impossible for an adverse allergic reaction to occur. Facial fat transfer is highly effective when it comes to increasing facial volume and can also address pitted acne scars.
The surgery is performed in our on-site surgical suite with topical anesthesia, by Dr. Rice, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon with thousands of hours of experience and an impeccable record of happy and satisfied patients.
Recovery time is 7-10 days, and results are noticeable immediately, although it sometimes takes a few months for swelling to disappear completely. While we consider surgery the most permanent kind of transformation you can get, nothing can stop the hands of time, and your skin will continue to age as it normally would. However, this procedure can take years off a patient’s appearance and last for years if you are diligent in caring for your skin.
Facial fat transfer is excellent for replacing volume in many areas of the face, including under-eye hollows, cheeks, nasolabial folds, marionette lines, and thin lips. It is also excellent for smoothing the appearance of acne scars. As one of the body’s best sources of stem cells, the transferred fat cells also help the skin build collagen, rejuvenating and improving the skin’s overall health and appearance.
The purpose of the facial fat transfer is to fill in areas that are deficient in volume. If you have laugh lines, crow’s feet, or smile lines, this procedure will address each of those issues, with results lasting for years to come. Additionally, if you would like to enhance your facial volume or reduce acne scars, you are likely a candidate for facial fat transfer.
The first step to facial fat transfer is the collection of fat cells. Dr. Rice will select a site from which the fat will be gathered -- typically the abdomen or thigh. Both the area to be injected and the donor site will be injected with a local anesthetic to ensure your comfort during the procedure.
Next, we draw a small amount of blood and put it in a centrifuge to separate the clear plasma from the red blood cells. This process is how platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is obtained. PRP is filled with growth factors and elements that support and stimulate cell survival and growth. Once the PRP is obtained, we load it into the syringe that is used for the fat harvest. This means the fat cells are taken from the donor site directly into a syringe with a host of supportive ingredients that stimulate and maximize the survival of the fat cells as they are transferred to the new location.
Once the anesthetic takes effect, we will make a very small opening in the belly button (or outer thigh) to access the fat layer. We then insert a sterilized cannula (tube) through the incision and extract the fat using suction. It should be noted that while this procedure can be a great add-on to a typical liposuction procedure, the standard Facial Fat Transfer procedure takes just enough fat to accomplish the volume enhancement in the face and is not designed to slim down the donor site.
After the harvesting takes place, Dr. Rice will transfer the fat cells. Before this phase of the procedure takes place, we make sure the face is completely numb to eliminate pain. The fat placement is done after transferring the fat from the harvesting syringe into small 1cc implanting syringes. The cannula is carefully and precisely passed back and forth throughout the area to be augmented, placing a fine line of fat cells each time. This process will be replicated until a uniform grid of grafted fat is created.
This procedure is very safe and has few risks. Following the procedure, you should expect swelling, bruising, and mild soreness. Typically, patients will remain home for 7-10 days during their recovery. Most of the side effects should subside by the second week. By then, the bruising will dissipate, but swelling will likely remain. If taking time off from work is an issue, we recommend having this surgery done toward the end of the week, giving you the weekend to rest, taking the next week off from work, then having the following weekend again to heal. Usually, three weeks after the procedure, our patients feel confident with their new look, although it might take a few more months for all of the swelling to disappear completely.
Because the fat cells are your own, all the cells that survive the transfer process will be permanent. This is the beauty of the fat transfer procedure.
No. Our goal is never to make patients look unnatural or overfilled. Facial fat transfer is excellent for creating soft, natural-looking results. It also stimulates your skin cells to produce collagen over time, which is what makes it so long-lasting. As mentioned above, roughly 35% of your transferred fat cells will remain and provide you with the additional volume you seek. Since they are your own fat cells and not a synthetic filler, you can expect results that will last considerably longer.
Facial fat transfer is an excellent add-on procedure to enhance the overall results of a facelift, eyelid lift, brow lift, or other combination of facial plastic surgery. When coupled with other procedures, the overall results can be astounding.
Best of all, the fat that survives the transfer process will last for years, and you will only lose volume due to the natural aging process. You can minimize sagging skin and other signs of aging by using high-quality, medical-grade skincare and sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Cosmetic procedures such as microneedling with radiofrequency energy can also boost collagen production and preserve your skin’s health.
Facial fat transfer replenishes lost volume to the face and is a great addition to other plastic surgery procedures such as facelifts, brow lifts, blepharoplasty (eyelid lifts), and liposuction.