Fat Transfer and contouring is a useful procedure for rejuvenating an ageing face by restoring plumpness and volume. Used alone or in conjunction with other rejuvenating procedures Fat Transfer is a unique procedure with minimal risks due to the fact that the patient’s own fat cells are used as a replacement filler; unlike the risk of an allergic reaction associated with other commercial filling agents.
Fat is also beneficial when large amounts of filler are required to create or restore volume in areas of the face or body, areas such as the cheeks, hands, wrinkles, scars and skin depressions. It can also be used if there are unsymmetrical areas of the body where there is a difference in volume between two sides. Fat transfer may help even this out.
Fat Transfer is a relatively simple procedure, however it does differ from liposuction as it is performed by manual extraction to ensure the best fat cell survival rate. Local anaesthetic is used to numb both the ‘donor site’ and the ‘implant site’ for patient comfort. Tumescent solution (saline with dilute local anaesthetic) is infused into the donor area (fatty area) where the fat is then softened and then gently removed by fine instruments and manual suction.
Fat is taken from an area of abundance (the donor site – often the abdomen) and then filtered of any tissue, then injected into the areas of fat depletion. Any unused fat can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months and is used for any topping up of the areas if required.
Some initial swelling and bruising is normal following the procedure however this usually settles within a few days.
As fat is a living cell, no guarantee can be given as to what effect the fat transplant may give. Most patients experience between a third and half of the fat transplanted surviving in each treatment. Repeat treatments are often required to obtain a fuller effect. Research suggests that smokers are less likely to have successful results.
Risks and Complications
Infection is a rare complication in this procedure as patients are given prophylactic antibiotics. Any risk of uneven or irregular skin is also minimized by the use of ultra fine instruments.
What areas are most suited to Fat Transfer?
The most common areas selected for Fat Transfer are the cheeks and hands. Wrinkles, scars and skin depressions also respond well to this procedure.
Can fat from liposuction of another area be used for Fat Transfer?
Fat needs to be extracted specifically for the use in the Fat Transfer procedure. Fat Transfer differs from liposuction as it is performed by manual extraction to ensure the best fat cell survival rate.
Is it permanent?
Fat Transfer cannot be guaranteed as permanent. However for some the fat can last up to five years. If the fat is still in place after five weeks, some grafting is considered as taken. It is normal in most cases for some of the fat transferred to be reabsorbed. For many fat transfer procedures usually require at least two injection treatments to achieve a fuller face effect. Treatments can be repeated every few months.