Facial Fat Injections (Fat Grafting)
As we age several changes happen to our face. Many of these changes occur around the mouth, cheeks, and eyes. We are finding more and more that facial aging is more about volume loss and less about gravity. Gravity tends to affect the lateral face, resulting in jowling and deep nasolabial folds, whereas the lips, cheeks, and midface are more affected by volume loss. This volume loss results in wrinkles, thin ill-defined lips, hollows in the cheeks, and dark under eye circles. Fat can be harvested by liposuction and injected into these areas to restore a youthful appearance. Although fillers can be used for the same purpose, unlike fillers, fat injections are natural, permanent, and more economic. Patients receiving a fat transfer will be initially swollen and the grafted areas may look overfilled at first. As the fat settles into the new area of the body, some will be reabsorbed by the body. The fat that survives has the ability to live in that region forever. In some cases, patients may desire more than one fat grafting session.
Facial Fat Injection Candidates
Patients who have lost volume in the lips, midface, cheeks, under eyes, and temples are all candidates for facial fat injection. Facial fat can also be used to soften the wrinkles around the face. It is even felt that the stem cells contained in fat can alter skin texture and pigment. The perfect patient is one who has already had success with fillers and wants a permanent result. Instead of spending several hundred dollars and undergoing painful injections every 4-6 months one can have a permanent treatment that involves only 1-2 procedures.
Fat Injection Procedure
Fat Harvesting: First, an area is chosen for liposuction, typically the lower abdomen or thighs. Next, the area is prepped and anesthetized. A small liposuction cannula is then used to harvest the desired amount of fat, usually less than 200 mL.
Fat Processing: Next, the fat is then carefully processed in a high speed centrifuge. The fat is spun at 3000 RPM for 3 minutes. This allows separation of the stem cell rich fat cells, plasma, and oils into different components. The stem cell rich fat cells are then isolated for injection.
Fat Injection: The areas for fat injection are anesthetized as necessary. The isolated fat cells are transferred to 1 ml syringes for microinjection. Finally, specialized small fat microinjection cannulas are used to introduce very small ribbons or droplets of fat into the desired areas. This is usually done in multiple planes so the fat settles smoothly. This process may have to be performed several times (also known as a layered fat grafting) for the best results. Individuals will see redness and swelling initially, but much of the swelling is down in a week or two.
Fat grafting can be performed as an in office procedure, which results in significant savings of time and expense. If more procedures need to be done at the same time then a hospital/surgery center setting may be required.
Dr. Graham is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with extensive experience in facial surgery and fat injection. He fully understands fat biology and grafting techniques. In addition, he has all the requisite equipment in his office operating suite and can perform the procedure in a sterile and comfortable environment.
Average fat graft recovery time is 1-2 weeks. You can drive within a few days as long as you’re not on narcotics. You can wear make up in 1 week. You can return to work in a week, depending on your profession.
The national average price for fat grafting is $2500-5000 dollars. As every patient has different needs, the price can vary for each patient. You can see Dr. Graham’s pricing here.