Facial Fat Transfer and Its Rejuvenating Effects

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Facial fat transfer is an integral part of facial rejuvenation surgery.  Instead of treating it as an afterthought, good surgeons know that reversing volume loss—or medically referred to as soft tissue atrophy—is the key element to make the results of facelift appear natural and genuinely youthful. 

For patients with no or very little sagging skin, facial fat transfer can serve as a stand-alone procedure.  While its upfront cost is higher than traditional fillers like Restylane and Juvederm, in the long run it is safe to surmise that it is “cheaper” because it does not entail regular touch-ups.

Traditional fillers, meanwhile, typically require touch-ups 2-3 times per year to preserve the “plump up” appearance and their rejuvenating effects.

Furthermore, performing facial fat transfer simultaneously with facelift prevents the dreaded overly tight appearance, flat cheeks, and abrupt lid-cheek junction.  It is important to note that no amount of skin pulling and tissue transposition can address the gaunt appearance and large depressions caused by fat loss.

Fat transfer is ideally performed at the same time as facelift, as opposed to doing it at a later date.  This will not only lower the surgical cost, but it will also result in less inconvenience since the patient will experience recovery just once.

Facial fat transfer has proven to be useful in correcting the appearance of temple hollowness, abrupt transition between the lower lid and cheek, flat cheek, prominent nasolabial folds (or laugh lines), and pre-jowl sulcus or sagging tissue adjacent to the chin and along the jawline.

However, one of the challenges of facial fat transfer is how to increase the survival rate.  To achieve this and ultimately deliver results that are near permanent (or at least 12-15 years), a good rule of thumb is to discard all the biomaterials such as dead cells, red blood cells, and oil.

Centrifuge is a piece of machine that allows surgeons to separate fluids and materials of different densities.  The red blood cells, which settle to the bottom of the tube being a heavy biomaterial, and the oil, which floats above the processed fluid due to its “light” nature, are both discarded prior to fat injection.

To further increase the survival rate of fat grafts, they must be injected into the tissue in a manner that the surrounding blood supply can reach them.  It is important to note that without blood vessel ingrowth, fats will only act as a temporary filler—i.e., it is resorbed by the body in no time. 

Hence, meticulous injection is critical to achieve long-lasting results from facial fat transfer. 

Article by
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon