Over the last 5 years there has been a remarkable resurgence in fat injections being offered to patients to help "plump up" or volumize the face. The procedures are being done by facial plastic surgeons, general plastic surgeons and dermatologists throughout the world at an ever increasing rate. It is easy to do but not easy to do well.
Marketing for fat injections / transfers has also boomed as it will anytime a "new" and buzz worthy procedure appears on the marketplace. Some of this marketing is fair and accurate and others are well... marketing.
Various methods of doing fat injections have also emerged ranging from the older but effective techniques like using a syringe to harvest the fat, letting it settle out and then injecting it to new devices which will harvest and separate the fat while allowing for assisted injection techniques. There has also been recent interest and promotion of "stem cell" and fibrinogen assisted fat injections which while unproven do offer some promise (again remember though that there is always marketing at work when it comes to cosmetic surgery!).
As can be seen online the patient satisfaction with fat injections is variable - this is due to physicians offering the technique without proper experience or training, over hyping and overselling of what the procedure can truly offer patients and the simple realities that go along with transplanting living tissues - there will always be failures no matter what technique is used or who is doing it.
The complications of fat injection include infection, fat graft failure, calcification of fat (causes hard lumps), excess fat injection causing a "puffy" face, need for repeat injections and harvesting, infection of bleeding at the harvest site (belly, thighs or arms) and unnatural results. The most devastating danger would be fat embolism where fat particles are injected into a blood vessel and the fat travels to another area causing blindness or possibly death. Luckily this is extremely rare and an experienced surgeon will have the ability to avoid this.
The largest amount of complications occur when fat is injected to the lower eye area. It is crucial that a conservative approach is used and the surgeon understands the anatomy extremely well.
The key is to work with a surgeon who will be honest about what fat transfer can do for you and who knows how to do it properly in order to get the best results possible.
Fat injections will start to come back down to reality but will always remain a good technique for patients seeking facial rejuvenation when done properly.