When it comes to combating signs of aging in the face, many patients think first of dermal fillers, Botox, or even facelifts. But fat transfers, which add youthful volume and contour to the face using the patient’s own fat, are growing in popularity. This minimally invasive treatment offers long-lasting, natural results, and it can even be used to fill out other areas of the body, such as the bosom or the buttocks. Patients at Soler Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Tampa, FL rave about the results they’ve gotten with this treatment.
What Is a Fat Transfer?
A fat transfer involves moving fat from an area of the body where you have plenty of it, such as the abdomen or thighs, to a part of the body that could use a little extra volume. This treatment frequently is used to plump and add contour to the face when it begins to sag with age.
But so-called fat injections can also be used to augment the breasts, round out the buttocks, rejuvenate the hands, or fill in sunken or scarred areas of the body that have been injured. Because these treatments use the patient’s own fat to build volume in the desired area, the results are natural, and you won’t look like you’ve had work done.
What Happens During a Transfer?
The treatment starts with the removal of fat from the targeted area using liposuction. The harvested fat is then strained, cleaned, and filtered so that only whole, undamaged fat cells are injected back into the body in the area that needs more volume.
When the fat is injected, it’s done in a way that helps the cells establish themselves. Rather than pooling it all in one spot, small tunnels of the new fat are dispersed throughout the existing tissue in a grid-like formation: an approach that helps the transplant connect with the blood supply and thrive.
This treatment is performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia or sedation. For most patients, the entire treatment lasts an hour or two. We recommend that patients have a friend or family member come with them to drive them home.
Where Is the Fat Injected?
When a fat injection is used to boost volume in the face, the location of the injection on the face depends on the patient’s needs and desires. Fat is commonly injected under the eyes or on the cheeks, lips, or temple.
What’s Recovery Like?
Patients often take several days off of work to recover after this treatment. The exact recovery time varies a little for each patient depending on the amount of fat transferred and the location on the body it’s moved to.
Does a Fat Injection Really Work?
Fat transfers seem almost too good to be true, but they really do work. We take a number of steps during any transfer treatment to ensure that the patient has a successful outcome. We transfer a little more fat than is necessary, for example, because we know that not every fat cell will thrive in its new location.
Often, 20% to 25% of the fat that is transferred doesn’t take hold in its new location and flushes from the body. So by transferring a little extra, we can ensure that the patient gets the results they’re looking for. We also treat the fat gently as it is removed and transferred so that it stays as healthy as possible.
What You Can Do to Ensure Success
The patient’s own behavior also plays a role in the success of fat injection. We’ll go over these with you as you prepare for this treatment, but there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure that your fat is successfully transferred and thrives in its new location.
We know it can be tough to kick a smoking habit, even for a short period of time, but we ask patients to refrain from all nicotine use at least two weeks before and two to three weeks after the fat injection. Staying away from smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco during this time is important because nicotine use causes your blood vessels to constrict, which makes it harder for the transplanted fat to find a blood supply in its new home.
Treat the Transplant Site Gently
During the weeks immediately after your fat injection, you’ll want to treat the transplant site with extra care. If you squeeze the area or otherwise put too much pressure on it, it’ll make it harder for your transplanted fat to take hold. That’s why we encourage patients who have had fat transferred to their face to sleep on their back so their face doesn’t press against the pillow.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Your body will also need the right nutrients to speed recovery and get the blood supply going to that transplanted fat. Incorporating healthy fats like salmon, walnuts, and avocados can help during your recovery.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is also an important way of supporting your body’s recovery. Drinking occasional sports drinks can also help because the electrolytes they contain help the body retain water.
During the first 8 weeks after your treatment, we’ll ask you to avoid rigorous exercise because we don’t want you to burn off the fat we’ve worked so hard to transplant! We also don’t want any extra pressure applied to the transplant site. But after about 8 weeks when the fat has established itself in its new home, exercise can be a good way to get your blood pumping into the transplant area.
Maintain a Stable Weight
Losing a significant amount of weight after your treatment can lower the overall amount of fat in your face and minimize your results.
When Will I See My Results?
You’ll likely notice some results immediately after your treatment, but remember that it’s completely natural, and even expected, that not all of the fat that is transferred will survive. Most patients see their final results about six months after their treatment.
Advantages of a Fat Injection
There are a number of advantages associated with fat injections, which have been growing in popularity in recent years.
Because these transfers add volume to your body with your own fat rather than with a foreign substance like a dermal filler, patients have a lower chance of experiencing an allergic reaction in the transplant site. It’s also unlikely that the transplant will be rejected by the body.
While it’s true that a portion of the transferred fat won’t take hold in its new location, the fat that does establish itself will be permanent. This means that unlike dermal fillers, which only last a year or so, you won’t have to maintain your new look with repeat injections.
Partly because this treatment involves the transfer of your own fat, these injections offer particularly natural-looking results. You won’t look like you’ve had work done, and you won’t have the stretched look that some patients have after a facelift. Instead, your face will appear naturally smoother and more youthful. Patients who have undergone this treatment say they feel more confident about themselves and their appearance.
This minimally invasive treatment is offered in the comfort of our practice. Although you’ll want to plan on resting for a couple of days afterward, you won’t have to worry about the hassle and inconvenience of a hospital stay.
How It Compares to Other Facial Treatments
There are a number of treatments available that address various signs of aging in the face. Here’s how a fat injection compares to two other popular treatments: facelifts and dermal fillers.
During a facelift, the skin is surgically lifted and tightened in a way that smooths over lines and wrinkles while tightening sagging skin. This type of surgery differs from a fat injection, which focuses more on restoring the youthful contours of the face by building up fat and volume.
Both treatments are powerful anti-aging tools, but they address different signs of aging. Some patients have seen success by combining the two treatments. Adding volume to the face with a fat transfer while also undergoing a facelift to get rid of sagging skin can offer terrific results.
Dermal fillers are injectable gels that work to add volume to parts of the face that have begun to flatten or sag. Many of the most popular dermal fillers today rely on hyaluronic acid, which works from within to fill in folds and plump the skin.
Dermal fillers address the same issue that fat transfers do, but they don’t last nearly as long. Most fillers last about a year at most, and patients must schedule repeat injections to maintain their facial volume. Fat injections are a much more permanent option.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Fat injections are a versatile treatment that can be used to sculpt various parts of the body. Adult patients of all types have turned to this treatment, although many are middle-aged or older and are interested in fighting the signs of aging. There are a number of indications that you might be an especially good candidate for this treatment.
You Want to Add Volume
Candidates for this treatment are those who could benefit from additional volume and contour in the face or another part of the body. Because fat injections usually do not offer dramatic results, patients who pursue this treatment should have an interest in results that appear natural.
You’ve Got Areas of Excess Fat
This treatment relies on our ability to safely harvest fat from one part of our body, so patients should have an area with enough excess fat to support that process. Patients who wish to transfer fat to the face need to have less excess fat available than those who want to treat a larger area like the hips or buttocks.
You’re in Good Health
The best patients are non-smokers in good overall health. Candidates should not have circulation problems or a history of abnormal bleeding. Patients should also be capable of committing to the aftercare guidelines recommended for this treatment, including eating nutrient-dense foods and avoiding activities and sleep patterns that squeeze or aggravate the transplant site.
You Have Realistic Expectations
It helps if patients have realistic expectations about the range of outcomes that are possible with any cosmetic treatment.
A Dream Treatment
It may seem hard to believe that we can take fat from one part of their body and use it to improve the shape and volume of another part. But this treatment does just that, and it really does work. If you’re ready to take the next step in achieving a more attractive, youthful appearance, call Soler Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Tampa, FL and schedule a tampa fat transfer consultation today.