Facial volume loss occurs naturally with age and makes the face appear thin and weathered. The reduction in facial fat causes the skin to sag and fall, resulting in undesirable changes in facial contours. The loss of fat significantly affects your appearance: the bony structures of the face become more pronounced, the cheeks appear flatter, the temples look hollow, and facial creases develop.
At West Michigan Plastic Surgery, Kalamazoo, Dr. Scott Holley uses facial fat grafting to address volume loss in various areas of the face, and restore youthful contours. Dr. Holley performs facial fat transfer as a standalone procedure or in conjunction with other anti-aging procedures such as facelift surgery, chin augmentation, or cheek augmentation.
Facial fat grafting or facial fat transfer is a surgical procedure in which your own fat is used to replenish facial volume. The fat is taken from one region of your body, typically the abdomen or thighs, and strategically placed in areas of the face where volume loss has occurred.
Facial fat transfer is most commonly used to fill in sunken cheeks and temples, under-eye hollows, and deep wrinkles and creases. The procedure has the advantage of being a natural, long-lasting facial rejuvenation treatment.
Ideal candidates for facial fat grafting are individuals wanting to address facial volume loss with adequate fat reserves in donor sites. Candidates should also be healthy and have realistic expectations about the procedure.
Essentially any candidate for soft tissue filler treatment, Restylane® or JUVÉDERM®, is also a candidate for a more permanent solution, fat grafting.
Facial fat grafting takes about 1 hour to complete depending on the areas being treated. Dr. Holley typically performs facial fat transfer as an in-office procedure under local anesthesia.
Facial fat transfer is a 3-step procedure that involves harvesting and processing the fat and transferring it to the selected area.
Harvesting: The fat is extracted from the donor site using a gentle liposuction technique. During your consultation, Dr. Holley will examine your body and make recommendations regarding the best donor site.
Processing: The aspirated fat is prepared for transfer by a centrifugation or filtration process, to remove impurities from the adipose fat cells.
Transfer: The fat is injected in tiny amounts into the soft tissue of the selected facial areas, to enhance volume.
The results of facial fat transfer are not immediate because not all the fat survives the transfer process. Between 25% and 50% of the fat transferred may be absorbed by the body over the following 2-4 months. For this reason, treatment areas are slightly over-corrected initially. Final results won’t be seen until the fat cells establish a new blood supply, and start to grow. This takes place over the course of 4-9 months.
Recovery from facial fat transfer is minimal, but some swelling and bruising at both treatment and donor sites are normal after the procedure. The swelling typically takes about 7-10 days to resolve. Most patients can return to work and resume social activities after about one week.