How is Fat Beneficial for Facial Rejuvenation?
Dr. Hubbard, don’t most patients just want to get rid of fat?
This is often the case; however, fat can also help restore a youthful look. It is one of the most significant accomplishments of plastic surgery, discovering how to add soft, natural-looking, and feeling tissue where it is lacking. So, for some patients, it can be a double benefit. We can take fat from an area of the body where it is not wanted and create beautiful form and shape.
What is fat grafting?
It is an advanced surgical technique that arose in the past 20 years from total obscurity to one of the most beneficial and exciting cosmetic procedures done today. A patient’s fat is suctioned, processed, and reinjected in careful pre-planned volumes and locations.
Where does the fat come from?
Each patient is unique in their distribution of stored fat. Together we plan the best donor areas; sometimes, one area or multiple areas are harvested. Some of the most common are the love handles, thighs and abdomen.
What will happen if I lose or gain weight?
Once the fat is grafted, it will still react to weight fluctuations as it is genetically designed to do, like the donor area from where it came. For instance, if fat is harvested from an area that shows small weight changes, you may notice the same result in the grafted area. Likewise, harvesting from an area of the body where fat does not fluctuate with weight gain or loss will lead to minimal changes where the grafting was done. In my experience, changes to the grafted area due to weight fluctuation are unusual.
What is the recovery?
This depends on the number of areas treated and the volume. If one area of the face is treated with a small amount of fat using local anesthesia, the recovery period is relatively short. More commonly, fat grafting is performed in the operating room so that multiple face areas can be addressed for a more rejuvenated result. This surgery would require 1-2 weeks off from work to understand that there still may be swelling and slight bruising at that time.
How do I know if the fat has “taken”?
Some face areas are incredibly reliable in accepting fat grafts, such as the hollows beneath the eyes, the cheeks, and areas along the jawline. Other areas like beneath the corners of the mouth are much less predictable. After four months, the result should be permanent, and the fat that has “taken” will remain. Any fat that did not take will be naturally eliminated by the body and likely go unnoticed.
Can the fat take on one side and not the other?
I have never seen this occur because of the careful planning involved before surgery. The fat injected on the right and left sides must be taken from the same donor area and processed exactly. Careful planning and experience are what make fat grafting a successful technique.
Can fat grafting be used in other areas of the body? Yes, in addition to facial rejuvenation, fat is terrific for augmenting the buttock and breast areas. In these areas, sometimes the emphasis is shaping, and sometimes it is volume.