Several factors contribute to facial aging: sagging of the facial soft tissues due to gravity, wrinkles of the skin due to loss of elasticity (which can be accelerated by excess sun exposure) and, most importantly, the loss of volume in the face. The loss of facial volume accentuates the look of aging by giving the face a hollow or sunken appearance. Facial fat transfer is an excellent alternative to temporary wrinkle and line fillers. As the safest natural technique to restore facial volume, facial fat transfer allows a patient to take fat from elsewhere on their body, such as the stomach, buttocks or thighs, and place it into deficient areas of the face.
Who is a candidate for facial fat transfer?
Healthy men and women who have lost facial volume due to aging, or have a hereditary deficiency of facial fat, are excellence candidates for facial fat transfer. The best patients are those who have had experience with fillers in the past but desire a longer-term result. Fat cells that are transplanted, or transferred, into to the face are harvested from other areas of the body, such as the stomach, flanks, buttocks or thighs. The best candidates have sufficient fat cells in these donor regions.
What is the recovery like from facial fat transfer?
Facial fat transfer is performed under local or general anesthesia, and possibly light sedation, depending on the patient’s preference. The procedure can be performed alone or in combination with other procedures, such as facelift, necklift or blepharoplasty.
During facial fat transfer, fat is harvested from the abdomen, flank, thighs, hips or buttocks through a gentle suctioning technique. Using a small cannula (a hollow, blunt tube the size of a pen tip), the fat is then transferred into the face.
There are no facial incisions; however, some post-operative bruising and swelling may occur. As it becomes incorporated as living tissue, the fat does not move or shift. The results are long-lasting, if not permanent. Depending on the region treated, patients may require two or three fat transfer procedures to achieve the optimal result.
Facial fat transfer is accomplished in an outpatient setting. Most patients return to home after only a few hours. Recovery is usually less than one week, at which time patients may return to work and non-strenuous activities. Mild discomfort, swelling and bruising are common during the first few days after facial fat transfer. Most patients feel confident returning to their public and social lives within two to three weeks.