When injected beneath the skin, fat injection plumps up creased and sunken areas of the face. It can also add fullness to the lips and cheeks. Injectable fat may be used alone or in conjunction with a resurfacing procedure, such as a laser treatment, or a recontouring procedure, such as a facelift.
Injected fat is primarily used to improve the appearance of the skin’s texture. It can help fill out deep facial wrinkles, creases and furrows, “sunken” cheeks, skin depressions and some types of scars. It can also be used to add a fuller, more sensuous look to the lips. Alternatively, other dermal fillers can provide a less permanent but but more convenient similar effect.
Fat injection is usually not sufficient for severe surface wrinkles on the face, such as the multiple vertical lines that sometimes form around the mouth. Instead or in addition, your plastic surgeon may suggest a resurfacing technique, such as chemical peel, dermabrasion or laser treatments. Rather than filling in facial lines, resurfacing methods strip away the outer layers of the skin to produce a smoother appearance.
Deep folds in the face caused by loose skin are called static lines and are more effectively treated with cosmetic surgery, such as a facelift or browlift. Lines due to overactive muscles (called dynamic lines) may include frown lines, crows feet and forehead lines.
Keep in mind that your plastic surgeon is a specialist who can offer you the full gamut of the most advanced treatments ranging from cosmetic surgery, refinishing techniques, laser therapy, injectables and the use of other fillers. You and your surgeon will determine a single procedure or combination of procedures which is the best choice for you.
If you would like more information on the resurfacing or surgical alternatives mentioned, simply click on that procedure.
Results from fat injection are generally very pleasing. Because your own (autologous) tissues are used, the effects should prove permanent. However, such permanency requires that the injected fat “take” successfully as a graft in its new home. Only 40-50% of the injected volume of fat will typically do so, even less in the lips. Either initial over-correction (with considerable swelling for some weeks) or repeated treatments (usually 2 or 3) must be employed, for a good result. Other dermal fillers will undergo progressive degradation and last for between 2 to 12 months, depending upon the product chosen, the injected site, your age and the degree of sun damage sustained.
When fat injection is administered by your qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor in nature. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions and their healing abilities. The outcome of treatment is never completely predictable, largely because the “take” of the injected fat is uncertain. There is still a small risk of infection and other infrequent complications. Over or under augmentation is possible. Repeat treatments may be necessary.
Risks associated with injections are minimal. You must have a test patch before proceeding with filler injections as some people may be allergic to the fillers used. Infection is possible with any injection, though extremely rare.
Fat injection is very individualised. That’s why it’s important to discuss your hopes and expectations with your plastic surgeon, who has experience with many different types of surgical and non-surgical facial procedures.
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your face – the skin, the muscles and the underlying bone – and discuss your goals for the surgery. Your doctor will help you select a treatment option based on your goals and concerns, your anatomy and your lifestyle.
He will also ask you about your medical history, drug allergies, and check for conditions that could cause problems, such as active skin infections or non-healed sores from injuries. In general, there are few contra-indications to the injection of the autologous fat.
Fat injection procedures usually performed as day procedures at one of the local hospitals or day procedure units.
Other filler injections are performed in our rooms at Vie Institute.
Fat injection requires both the donor and recipient sites to be numbed with local anaesthesia, general anaesthesia or sedation is used as well, to ensure the procedure is pain free. Therefore you cannot drive, be sure to arrange for someone to take you to the hospital and take you home .
Filler injections require only local anaesethetic. For lips, we will inject the local anaesthetic into the gums, this will numb the lips for between 20 minutes to one hour. Other areas of the face are numbed using EMLA cream, rubbed into the area to be treated and left on for one hour before the procedure.
In medical jargon, the fat-injection procedure is known as autologous fat transplantation. It involves extracting fat cells from the patient’s abdomen, thighs, buttocks or elsewhere and re-injecting them beneath the facial skin. Fat is most often used to fill in “sunken” cheeks or laugh lines between the nose and mouth, to correct skin depressions or indentations, to minimize forehead wrinkles and to enhance the lips.
The Procedure: After both the donor and recipient sites are cleansed and treated with local anaesthesia, the fat is withdrawn, using a syringe with a large-bore atraumatic fat harvesting needle attached to a suction device. The fat is then prepared into a pure form by removal of blood and liquid fat through centrification, and injected into the recipient site with a needle. “Overfilling” is necessary to allow for fat absorption in the 6 weeks or so following treatment. On average only about 40% of the injected fat “takes” successfully as a graft, so a greater degree of overfilling is necessary. When fat is used to fill sunken cheeks or to correct areas on the face other than lines, this over correction of newly injected fat may temporarily make the face appear abnormally puffed out or swollen. This lasts 1-2 weeks to a noticeable extent, but the final contours will not be evident for 6 weeks.
These treatments take between 15 and 30 minutes only. The area to be treated will be numbed with local anaesthetic and then cleansed thoroughly. A series of small injections are placed just under the skin to plump out lines, or into the border and body of the lip to increase fullness and create the desired shape. You may be a little red and swollen for the rest of that day, but you can cover the redness with a mineral makeup. Many people chose to return to work immediately, but for your first treatment schedule it at the end of the day or on a day off.
Many patients are able to resume normal activity immediately. You can expect some swelling, bruising or redness in both the donor and recipient sites. The severity of these symptoms depends upon the size and location of the treated area. You may use makeup with sunblock protection to help conceal your condition.
The longevity of the fat injection sites varies significantly from patient to patient. Most patients have some degree of permanent improvement, due to fat having taken successfully. However, many patients find that at least half the fullness disappears within 6 months. Repeated injection may be required once or twice, rather than on a regular basis every 3 to 6 months as is the case with other commonly used fillers.
If you’re like most patients, you’ll be very satisfied with the results of your autologous fat injection. You may be surprised at the pleasing results that can be gained from this procedure.
Fillers also give excellent results, with little downtime. You will be amazed at how much benefit you can gain from these very simple non-surgical procedures.
If you have further questions, write them down and ask your surgeon and his highly trained staff at your consultation.