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Different Techniques for Facial Fat Transfer?

I am wondering if there were different techniques for fat transfer in the facial area, i.e. cheeks, lower eyelids, nasolabial folds and lips. If so which technique is better? I have researched about it a bit and different doctors do it differently: one takes the fat directly from an area to your face; others freeze the fat then inject it in different treatments over time. I'm confused.

Doctor Answers 8

Fresh fat vs Frozen fat

An overwhelming majority of plastic surgeons transfer freshly harvested fat. Techniques for harvesting, processing and implantation may differ. The reason fresh fat works is simple. Blood flow keep the fat cells alive. Once harvested, cells lose nutrition and begin to die (ischemia). If transferred after harvest they are placed in an area surrounded by good blood flow which in theory reinstates the longevity of fat and enhanced the "take" (decreased ischemia time).  Many other fields operate under this same principle (microsurgery and breast reconstruction, organ and tissue transplantation, trauma and amputation, etc..) If we can halt ischemia time with freezing then there would be no need to rush transplant harvest limb salvage or in this case implantation of fat.  Pl visit with a board certified plastic surgeon. All are well equipped to answer your specific questions and explain their method of fat transfer.  

Fat transfer

there is no evidence based scientific studies proving one technique is better than the other, however, gentle handling of the harvested fat and injecting very small amounts improves the results

Christopher K. Livingston, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Fat transfer techniques

You are confused because so many doctors do this procedure differently as you state. There are no convincing studies that state that frozen fat doesn’t work as well as fresh fat, nor any evidence that indicates only one method is appropriate. Just make sure that if the fat is frozen, the doctor has a mechanism to safeguard the fat if a power outage occurs, and that there is a mechanism in place to ensure that you receive your stored fat and not someone else’s by mistake! There should also be a limit to the time the fat is stored. You wouldn’t want to use fat that is stored for a couple of years in case there is a greater chance of bacterial infection.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Facial fat graft transfer with micro grafts

Facial cosmetic surgery with autologous (your own) fat is a key procedure that many plastic surgeons perform, with or without additional cosmetic surgery. Fat may be transferred to many areas of the body, although the face is the primary location for rejuvenation.

Fat injection with micro grafting has many subtle variations in technique. The surgeon harvests, processes, and injects fat with methods that ensures that most of the fat is preserved and with minimal damage to the tissue. Fresh is always better than frozen. However, your plastic surgeon may freeze fat to allow touch up procedures as needed, without requiring another fat harvest. Best of luck.

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Micro fat grafting, facial contouring

Dear Intears, I am delighted that you ask this question. Fat transfer has been a controversial topic for many years. A lot of Plastic Surgeons refused to adopt the technique of fat transfer for facial contouring due to historic reasons and techniques. Obviously the test of time has born out that tranfsering fat does work to add volume to an area of the body. The principle is to transfer small amounts to each tiny location- so that the fat can take on a new blood supply. There is a lot of discussion about the transfer of 'stem' cell which help improve the quality of the tissues in the area.

There has not been comparative studies of the techniques in humans- to show differences in cosmetic surgical outcomes, There are claims by individual that one technique is 'better' than another technique and that 'their' technique has les risk of complications...... this is mainly in the realm of injected fat over fat placed in chunks into the tissues.

Micro fat transfer is an essential component of facial shaping and restoring a youthful appearance. I have been using this for 11 years and have had consistant results in multiple areas- facial contouring, under eye hollows, cheek augmentation, shin augmentation, jawline shaping, forehead shaping, breast augmentation and contouring, buttocks augmentation, correction of liposuction deformities, correction of surgical deformities.

With Warm Regards,

Trevor M Born MD

Trevor M. Born, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Fat Transfer, Fresh or Frozen. Like Seafood, Go for the Fresh

Hi InTears,

There are many different techniques of fat transfer. Freshly harvested fat is best to use and has the best longevity.

Some physicians do freeze and store the fat that is left over to use it for touch ups 5 to 6 months after the initial procedure. The percentage of fat transferred that survives, and the percentage of viable fat cells are much lower in frozen fat.

Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.