One of the most exciting procedures that has become popular over the last decade is fat transfer. This is a technique where fat is taken from somewhere on the body and placed into the face. For women, the fat is usually harvested from the abdomen or hips, and in men, from the love handles.
A fat transfer can be done with just local anesthesia. The donor area is anesthetized, and after about 30 minutes, the fat is harvested with a gentle form of liposuction. The fat is gently cleaned and processed in a centrifuge, and then injected into any area of the face that could use some filling such as: the temples, lower lids, cheeks, nasolabial folds, lips, and jawline. After injection, any extra fat is stored in the freezer for future use. We expect about 40-50% of the transplanted fat to be absorbed back into the body, while the rest should remain in the face indefinitely. And if touch ups are needed, the fat in the freezer can be used for up to a year.
Fat transfers are a great way to plump up a face that has lost fat with aging. If you think of a balloon, as the balloon loses air, it becomes wrinkled. In the same way, our face deflates, becomes loose and wrinkled when we lose fat as we age. Most other fillers available are temporary, and cannot produce the degree of filling that can be achieved with fat. Fat is also a great way to help fill in any irregularities in the skin, such as old acne or other scars.
Recent studies have shown that there are stem cells in the harvested fat. Once transferred into the face, these stem cells should migrate toward the surface to help improve the texture of the skin.
Fat transfers can be done as an isolated procedure or in conjunction with other rejuvenation surgeries such as a facelift, blepharoplasty, or laser resurfacing.