What is Fat Transfer?
Fat transfer is a method of using your own body fat to fill in unwanted facial creases or improve hollowing around the eyes, cheeks or temples caused by aging. Fat injections can improve acne scars, and augment certain features such as lips and cheeks. It may also be used to improve the look of the aging hand. Fat transfer is our favorite way to perform the "liquid face lift" because fat is the most pliable filler and is the same consistency as your own facial tissue. The procedure can be performed along with a liposuction, or by itself.
Dr. Reichel has extensive experience with fat injections. "I love using the patient’s own fat for hand and face rejuvenation. As we age, we loose the natural fat pads in the face. Injecting fat can rejuvenate and add back that lost volume. I like to have patients bring in photos from when they were younger so we can restore that lost volume."
» Click here to view before/after photos of this procedure in the Photo Gallery.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Fat transfer is performed by removing fat from one area of your body such as your abdomen or thighs, and then injecting it into the desired site. The "donor" area (abdomen or thigh) is cleaned and then anesthetized with tumescent anesthesia, just like in liposuction. Tumescent anesthesia uses a solution of lidocaine and saline. After the anesthesia, the fat is removed using narrow metal tubes called cannulas. The cannula is attached to a sterile syringe where the fat is collected. The fat is then centrifuged and purified so that it can be injected into the treatment site. In most cases, we will collect enough fat to store for future treatments. The fat can be stored for up to 2 years.
After the fat "harvest", the treatment area is numbed using local anesthetic, and then the fat is injected via very small blunt ended cannulas. It is then massaged into place. Before the procedure, you will be given pain medication and a light sedative to make you more comfortable.
Because some of the fat is reabsorbed by the body after the injection, it usually requires 3 treatments to accomplish a 75 to 80 percent correction. The treatments are usually performed every 3 months. Some patients do not need all 3 treatments, and some patients may need more.
The rejuvenation effects of transferred fat can last years, and in many patients, the effects are permanent. However, in some cases, the transferred fat may be reabsorbed resulting in loss of effect. Some patients require booster injections of fresh or stored fat to maintain results.
Because the fat is from your own body, unlike collagen or other “fillers”, your body will not react against the fat. Results from patients, physicians and other researchers place the durability of fat injections anywhere from half a year up to eight years.
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Side Effects of Fat Transfer
The treated area may look overly plump or swollen for about a week. You may want to plan a few days of "down-time". However, many patients are able to return to their normal activities immediately. Most notice some bruising, swelling and redness in the donor and injection sites.