My procedure will be on Thursday, August 29th at...
My procedure will be on Thursday, August 29th at around 2:45pm. I have my medications (sedative, pain killers, antibiotics, and a steroid pack), my husband who will be my caregiver that day, and a healthy dose of skepticism.
I've never focused on my cheeks until after my rhinoplasty in April; they say plastic surgery can be a slippery slope (although I only want to focus on skin texture after this procedure).
My cheeks are hollow--they're non-existent and when I smile I can actually see a sunken in area where my 'cheeks' are suppose to be. So not only do I lack volume, it looks like I have actual depth where I shouldn't. I love the look of full, apple-like cheeks and have been desiring a more concentrated look in that particular area of my face.
I am 22 years old and have had filler under my eyes (tear trough area), so I'm no stranger to hollowness. I figure without cheeks, any under eye circles I have will be more pronounced because there are no fatty cheeks to sustain my undereye area! I hope this procedure will mean less filler under my eyes.
I am having this procedure under local anesthesia; meaning 1-2 oral nerve blocks, a sedative, and my experience with needles to the face before (juvederm, restylane, etc). I am scared about the procedure because they will have to harvest fat from my stomach (hopefully she can get enough), centrifuge/clean/do what they need to do, and then use a huge needle (fat is thicker than filler) in the cheek area. I've been instructed to take a second sedative pill if need be and I'm almost saying yes (and this is a few days before haha). I'm having this as an in-office procedure because I want to have better control over where she places the fat; this isn't a nose job or a tummy tuck. It is still a major event, but I believe I can handle it.
My goal is to have full, cheeky cheeks without looking like a chipmunk. I say this because I want the fat to be injected only in the cheek area; I dislike that overfilled look some people can get. So by simply concentrating the fat in the cheek area, I can have a more contoured look.
I have Bromelain and Arnica Montana to take following the procedure, as well as a tapering steroid pack to alleve any swelling. I took the week off and hope I can get back to normal, light activities (office work/school) quickly. I know the results may take months as the dust settles and the fat stays/reabsorbs, so I will take plenty of photos.
I chose my own fat over filler because I know some of the fat injected will stay with me forever--even if it's 10% I would be happy (and typically filler can't do that--they're designed to dissolve). I love the idea that fat usually lasts longer, some of the fat you keep stays with you, and it can look more natural over time. Of course there are pros and cons to everything, so I hope ill be happy in the end.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.
29 Aug 2013
Day of treatment
So today was the day! It went by incredibly fast (fortunately). Here is my experience:
First, I took two sedatives. It pretty much made me tired and relaxed, which helped tremendously.
I was photographed and then escorted to a room where I could change into a loose robe (with underwear intact). Not too long after I spoke with Anson and confirmed what was going to be done (full apple cheeks). We then proceeded to the operating room.
The liposuction part was interesting...uncomfortable but bearable. They had to infuse a diluted solution of lidocaine into my lower back so they can lipo-suck with less pain to the patient (me). After waiting 15 minutes, the liposuction occurred (and it wasn't bad at all! The lidocaine was a phenomenal idea) which took another 20 minutes.
After purifying the fat via centrifuge, they placed the fat into these large needles. As that was being done by the assistants, Dr. Anson placed two nerve blocks in my mouth in order to further numb me. Then she placed about four-five injections into different areas of my face that had a numbing agent. While I thought that was too much as first, it DEFINITELY helped because when it came time to insert/mold the fat, I didn't feel a thing. While I did feel pressure, I did not feel any pain whatsoever, I was actually surprised. Dr. Anson is fantastic at numbing you--and it also helps she is a total sweetheart.
After all the fat was injected, I was given a mirror to see the new face. I....was shocked haha. I looked like an overfilled cat (or Donatella Versace). But, as I stayed and rested for a while, I remember that most of it is swelling. As I got home, I thought I looked crazy. However, I could feel my entire face swell from this procedure, so I started taking my Bromelain, antibiotics, and a steroid tapering pack.
I am home, it has been about five hours since the procedure has ended, and I feel good. I definitely have cheeks--they look really full, maybe too full. But I requested more fat in order to supplement the fact that a majority of the fat will dissolve within four months.
All in all, I am currently swollen, slightly overfilled in order to compensate for the amount of fat dissolving in the upcoming weeks, and inflamed from the molding process it took to place the fat exactly where it needed to go.
I am happy! Once the swelling goes down, I'll be able to see my face as less 'overfilled' and see the contour even better. In the photos I've recently added, you can notice how contoured my cheeks look--maybe a little much, but that's expected after such a serious procedure. And once some of the fat dissolves, I'll have an even more contoured look after about four months.
Overall I am happy! I am going to update as the days pass so I can document any changes.
Day Two Update
So it has been 48 hours since my procedure! I have only taken one pain pill, and that was last night before bed (the lower sides of my stomach was rather uncomfortable from the liposuction); although to be honest I'm sure I didn't even need it.
I only have three areas of bruising--my cheeks and a little under my right eye. Otherwise nothing crazy! Each day the swelling continues to go down, which is fantastic. I've been taking my antibiotics and my steroid tapering pack + bromelain which I'm sure is helping with any inflammation.
I will post a photo tomorrow/Monday with an update. BIG improvement however--I'm slowly starting to see my new cheeks! Although I still expect swelling to dissolve over the next two-four weeks. Dr. Anson explained that in about four months I'll know what fat has stayed and what has dissolved.
Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the procedure :) There was little pain involved, the sides of my stomach look noticeably smaller (she took more fat than she used on my face), and I have cheeks! The great part is that even if I only keep 10% of the fat, I can go in next year and have the procedure done again, further building on the fat. So over time I can build up 'soft tissue' with my own, natural fat. I also like how she injected more than what I need; this can increase the chances of the fat to find its' own blood supply.
Day 3 Update
Amazing how time flies--day 3 already!
Nothing too interesting to report; each day the swelling goes down more & more (which is exciting). I am starting to bruise a little under my left eye, unfortunately, but nothing unexpected. The areas that she had lipsuctioned are still sore (albeit less each day) and I have two stitches from the areas she made an incision mark on my lower back (which will be removed on Tuesday).
Overall, everything is going well! No complications (no infection or massive swelling) or extreme discomfort.
Day 6 Update
Swelling is pretty much gone, the bruising has subsided drastically (I have a tiny bit under my right eye, but in the photo I'm uploading today I have some concealer over it), and my cheeks are looking fantastic.
I am still rather full, but the next few weeks I'll see some/most of the fat get absorbed. Hopefully I get to keep quite a bit, though. For now, I'll keep enjoying the fullness and update again in about a month/month-and-a-half with a new photo.
I do have a little bit of scarring on my cheeks, which I will say the fat transfer has dramatically improved their appearance. Of course the fat transfer 'inflates' the skin but doesn't really change the texture (as much as laser), but the depression the scar makes doesn't look as bad with the fat underneath it (it plumps it out).
1 Month Post-Procedure
It has been one-month post-op (although to be technical that would be tomorrow [Thursday], but I'll be out of town tomorrow so I figure I'll get this update out of the way).
Overall, nothing much as changed. I am comfortable, no infections or complications have come from this procedure. I have noticed more fat reabsorbing, but it is gradual. I was told that after four months, the fat I see in my face I will most likely keep forever. I would absolutely love to keep the amount of fat I have right now, but of course I can't control reabsorption, unfortunately. I am young so perhaps the better blood circulation can increase the percentage of fat I keep, but who knows--all I can do is wait. I am so pleased with the results and the recovery process. My face is fuller, my cheeks are bubbly, and my satisfaction is extremely high. I'll update again in four months :)
2 1/2 Months Later
11 Nov 2013
3 months post
It has been roughly 2 and 1/2 months since I had the procedure; next time I see the doctor will be in December (at four months). Dr. Anson explained to me that she is comfortable in asserting that after the four month mark, the fat I have remaining I will keep forever.
As the weeks pass, I have noticed more fat to be reabsorbed. However, lately I've noticed that has stopped--I'm pleased with how my cheeks look right now. They're nice and perky; they have filled in areas that prior left me looking like I had shadows/depressed areas. In fact sometimes I feel I have too much fat from recent photos! Haha. Clearly the few pictures prior to the one I am uploading now are me overfilled, but overall I am extremely happy with my results. I'll update again in the four month mark.
Five Month Mark
23 Jan 2014
5 months post
So it has been five months since I have had the procedure. The doctor noted that after four months, the fat I see is the fat I keep. Well I am happy with the amount I currently have! I would have liked the fat to have stayed more on the crest of my cheeks, but that's me being highly critical. My face has a more contoured look and I don't look like I have 'dents' under my eyes. My cosmetic goals have been achieved with little pain (supported by a great doctor-patient relationship with Dr. Anson).
Post-Procedure: Seven Months
25 Mar 2014
7 months post
It has been nearly seven months since I've had the fat transfer to my cheeks. Verdict? Still ecstatic! Photographs show a more voluminous upper-face profile, make-up looks (and goes on) better, and overall my face appears more symmetrical. Other than that, nothing new to report; I have not noticed any fat reduction, everything seems to have stabilized. I'd say in another year or two, I would get the procedure again.
1 Year Post-Op
Wow. One year post-op already!
Well, nothing new to report. I have kept a good portion of the fat (i'd confidently say I kept about 45%, which is a lot considering she also overfilled to compensate for any fat that would not get its own blood supply). I have also enjoyed my cheeks ever since I had the procedure done--they look (and feel) natural, I had no complications, and I am more comfortable whenever I smile to show off my new cheeks!
I will most likely have the procedure done again in about a year and a half to two years (I just started graduate school and barely have any time to do anything other than school! Haha). Even if I kept only 20-30% of the fat, I would have built a good base for any future fat/filler procedures.
Overall I am ecstatic that I had Dr. Anson as my doctor. I can say nothing but good about her--from her friendly nature to her loving staff, I'm glad I not only met a phenomenal plastic surgeon, but also a made a friend in the process.
Attached are professional photos taken before and after of my fat injections.