As we age, we lose fat in our faces. It’s funny because we don’t often think we want to hold onto fat, but this is an exception. Fat in the face gives us a healthy, youthful look. As we age, and that fat starts to move down the face and melt away, we take on a hallow, unhealthy appearance. The area under our eyes often sinks in, giving us a tired appearance.
- 1 What is Facial Fat Transfer?
- 2 Procedure Process
- 3 Before & After Photos
- 4 Recovery
- 5 Alternative Procedures
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6.1 Who is an ideal candidate for Fat Transfer?
- 6.2 What is recovery like after Fat Transfer?
- 6.3 What is the pain level during recovery from Fat Transfer?
- 6.4 Are there any scars or tell-tale signs of Fat Transfer afterwards?
- 6.5 Will I have to go under with general anesthesia for my Fat Transfer procedure?
What is Facial Fat Transfer?
Fat grafting, or fat transfer, is a procedure where a skilled plastic surgeon takes fat from your body (usually the problem areas you’ve been wanting to lose anyway – your belly or love handles), and transfers that fat into your face, recreating youthful fullness and rounded contours. Fat is remarkable in it’s ability to live happily and healthily in its new home for many, many years. This makes Fat transfer a long-lasting, natural, healthy approach to replacing lost volume and maintaining a youthful look.
For the past century, plastic surgeons have been perfecting the fat transfer process to maximize the results.
We now know that fat cells taken from the central adipose tissues, in the love handles and stomach area, have a higher concentration of stem cells than fat from other areas of the body. Selecting these cells for transfer gives us a better outcome because the healing process is helped by those stem cells. Plastic surgeons also agree that injecting fat into areas where the skin is already lax (i.e. the skin has already been stretched and can accommodate the additional volume without pulling or tightness) gives fat ample room to survive the grafting transfer and live for a very long time in that location. This differentiates fat transfer in the face from other areas of the body, and explains why fat cells transferred to the face to replace lost volume enjoy a much higher survival rate than those used for augmentation in other procedures.
Before & After Photos
In making sure you make the most of your investment in fat transfer for facial rejuvenation, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the very best results. The first is to choose a skilled, artful plastic surgeon with a great deal of experience in using fat grafting for facial rejuvenation. Fat grafting which restores lost volume is a 3-dimensional art form, and really requires the surgeon to do a detailed analysis of the changes to underlying structural tissues in your face. This is one of the more technically difficult procedures in facial rejuvenation, but if done properly, you will look naturally refreshed for many years to come.
Dr. Mark Karolak, our Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, has focused his entire career solely on facial rejuvenation, and that has allowed him to put in the time and dedication to master the nuanced skill of fat transfer.
Second, you should take precautions to protect the transferred fat during your recovery. Because there aren’t any suture lines, and most patients feel really good after surgery, we often have to remind patients that they are still in a recovery period after surgery. Your newly grafted fat cells will need to be protected from any physical trauma or compression that might cause them to lose blood supply. Establishing blood supply to these cells is the key to your fat surviving and thriving in its new home. During your consultation, we will discuss how to avoid any activities or movements that might cause undue stress or otherwise slow the healing process done.
Many patients are familiar with dermal fillers for restoring facial volume and smoothing deep wrinkles. Fat transfer provides a longer-lasting result than fillers can, but fillers are often preferred by many patients for their familiarity and shorter recovery. Dr. Mark Karolak, our Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, provides both options for his patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is an ideal candidate for Fat Transfer?
When considering fat transfer for facial rejuvenation, patients should meet a few criteria to be considered ideal candidates:
- You should have excess fat – preferrably in your abdomen or love handles. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of fat, but you do need some of your own fat to transfer (fat donors are not considered a healthy, viable option at this time).
- You should be willing to undergo a small surgical procedure to achieve long-lasting rejuvenation for your face
- You should be healthy and medically eligible for the procedure
What is recovery like after Fat Transfer?
After Fat Transfer, you will be swollen for a few weeks, and you will likely experience some mild bruising. Bruising can be covered with makeup during your recovery. Most patients feel “restaurant ready” about 5-7 days after their procedure.
You should limit certain activities, such as strenuous exercise and any unnecessary touching of your face for two weeks after your procedure, to allow your fat to settle into its new home and establish a healthy blood supply.
Most patients feel very comfortable throughout their recovery, and require very little pain management.
When patients are sore, usually Tylenol is sufficient. Your surgeon and coordinator will be in close contact with you throughout your recovery, so if you feel discomfort, they will on-hand 24/7 to alleviate that. In fact, Dr. Karolak gives his personal cell phone number to his patients, so if you find you have questions or concerns, he is always available to you.
What is the pain level during recovery from Fat Transfer?
The techniques our plastic surgeons use for Fat Transfer lend themselves to a speedy and comfortable recovery. With this procedure, our patients are very comfortable throughout the recovery, and usually don’t require medication beyond Tylenol. There will be some swelling and bruising. This is easily and safely covered by makeup.
Are there any scars or tell-tale signs of Fat Transfer afterwards?
Fat is transferred to the face with a cannula, the same way we inject a dermal filler. There might be injection site redness for a day or two afterwards, similar to what you would expect with a vaccination. It is highly unlikely that would ever turn into a visible scar.
Will I have to go under with general anesthesia for my Fat Transfer procedure?
No, our office is proud to offer patients an alternative to general anesthesia, Comfort Calm Local Anesthesia. During your procedure, you will be gently awake, and completely relaxed, with Comfort Calm Local Anesthesia. Our private state-of-the-art surgical suite feels more like an oasis than operating room. You’ll be able to listen to relaxing music and speak with your nurses and surgeon. Most of our patients doze in and out during the procedure.