Fat Transfer/Fat Grafting FAQ
There are several questions that patients frequently ask board certified facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Anthony Corrado, regarding facial fat grafting and facial fat transfer. Although each patient represents a unique surgical challenge, Dr. Corrado believes that those considering the procedure can benefit from generalized information about facial fat injections. Serving the greater Philadelphia, PA area, and beyond, Dr. Corrado performs facial fat grafting/transfer on both men and women of various ages.
What is fat grafting or fat transfer?
Fat grafting and fat transfer are interchangeable terms which involve the injection of fat cells for cosmetic purposes. In facial fat grafting/transfer fat is removed from an area of the body(i.e. abdomen, hips, thighs, etc.) and implanted into areas of the face which have lost volume due to aging. As we age, one of the first signs of aging is facial volume loss. By adding volume with fat transfer, hollowed areas of the face can be filled and lifted to restore the well-rested and refreshed look of our youth. Fat transfer will also help to fill many of the deep wrinkles of the face to give the face a smoother and more youthful appearance.
How long does fat transfer last?
The benefits to fat transfer are that larger volumes of fat can be used to fill the face compared to typical volumes of dermal fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane. Fat transfer can last for many years, if not permanently, compared to dermal fillers which typically last for up to one year.
What are the benefits of fat grafting?
- No risk of allergic reaction
- Large volumes of fat can be harvested and implanted
- Provides longer lasting results compared to dermal fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane
- A flat fee is charged for the procedure compared to “per syringe” pricing with fillers
- Can be performed while awake under local anesthesia in our office surgical suite
What areas are targeted with fat transfer?
- Sunken cheeks
- Sunken temples
- Under eye hollows and dark circles
- Marionette and Nasolabial lines and wrinkles of face
- Thin lips
- Smoker’s lines above the upper lip
- Weak chin
- Jawline to smooth early jowling
Can fat transfer be done while I am awake?
Yes, typically fat transfer procedures are done in our office surgical suite under local anesthesia. Patients are given oral medications in low doses to help them relax, but they are still awake and able to communicate with Dr. Corrado and his staff during the procedure. This has proven to be a very safe and effective procedure. Patients with certain medical conditions or concerns can also have the procedure performed under anesthesia in an outpatient surgical center. Dr. Corrado will discuss this with you after carefully reviewing your complete medical history during your consultation.
How long do fat transfer procedures take?
Fat grafting typically takes between 1-2 hours depending on the number of areas of the face being treated.
What happens after fat grafting surgery?
Patients are sent home after their surgery. There are not stitches or bandages on the face. Patients are asked to apply cool compresses to the face for the first 24-48 hours. An elastic compression garment, similar to spandex, is worn to provide tight compression at the harvest sites. Patients are asked to followup with Dr. Corrado the next day for evaluation. The sutures at the harvest sites are typically removed at 7 days after the procedure. Swelling typically takes 2-3 weeks to resolve. Swelling varies depending on the patient.
Does fat grafting really work? Another surgeon told me it does not work.
The success of any fat grafting procedure is dependent on proper surgical technique. Over the last several years, many discussions regarding fat transfer have centered on modification in procedure technique to optimize the results and longevity of fat transfer surgery. Gentle handling of the fat is paramount to procedure success as the fat is living tissue and is very delicate. Improper techniques during the harvest, separation, and implantation phases of the procedure can affect success rates. Many surgeons that question the success rate of fat grafting do so because of lack of success in performing the procedure themselves. Many times this is due to lack of training and experience with fat grafting. Many surgeons have tried fat grafting in the past using old fashioned techniques which had low success rates. Patients should see a board certified facial plastic surgeon who has performed many of these procedures in their career. Dr. Anthony Corrado provides patients of the greater Philadelphia and Delaware Valley areas with expert facial fat grafting. He has lectured at national conferences and published in respected medical journals on fat grafting techniques.
How does the fat survive?
Like any living tissue transplantation procedure done within the human body, a blood supply to the living tissue must be established to allow oxygen and nutrients to get to the fat cells. Injecting fat in small quantities over several passes in a given region of the face optimizes the chance of survival. Fat is injected with special injection devices, micro cannulas, which implant small amounts of fat with each pass of the syringe. This “micro droplet” technique helps to increase the success of the procedure. Large volumes of fat injected on each pass of the syringe have less of a chance to develop a blood supply and therefore have less chance of survival. This is because it is more difficult to carry oxygen and nutrients to the center of large transplanted volumes.
Can I have fat grafting with my facelift?
Yes, Dr. Corrado typically combines a facelift with fat transfer as part of a 3-D facelift procedure. Facelift procedures help to fight gravity by lifting the skin of the neck and face. Facelifts DO NOT address the volume loss which is also an integral part of the aging process. Using fat transfer to add volume to the face, in addition to lifting sagging skin, will offer patients the most comprehensive and successful facial rejuvenation.