Fat Transfer

As we age, our faces tend to lose volume. This creates lines, wrinkles, and sometimes a hollowed or sunken appearance in some parts of the face. Dermal fillers such as Juvéderm®, Voluma, Sculptra®, and Restylane® are often used to restore this lost volume. Fat transfer (also called fat injections or fat grafting) is another procedure to replace lost volume, except it uses your own fat instead of a dermal filler product.

Excess fat is removed from one part of the body through liposuction and injected into the area of the face or neck that needs additional fat for a youthful rejuvenation. More than one session of fat harvesting through liposuction followed by fat transfer injection into the face or neck may have to be done in order to achieve the best result. This varies from patient to patient.

Fat transfer can be used to correct fine lines and deep wrinkles such as nasolabial folds and marionette lines, depressions in the skin, and sunken cheeks. It can also be used for lip augmentation to make your lips fuller. The fat is usually harvested from areas like the stomach, love handles, thighs, or buttocks.

At the Center for Facial and Body Rejuvenation, our board-certified facial plastic surgeons will spend time with you to understand your aesthetic goals, and they will examine you carefully to determine the best fat transfer plan to achieve those goals.

We have performed many successful fat transfer procedures for our patients in the greater San Francisco Bay area. With two board-certified facial plastic surgeons in our office, you have the option to receive a second opinion, right in one office.

Your Fat Transfer Procedure

First, the fat must be removed through liposuction, which is a surgical procedure. Liposuction can usually be done using a local anesthetic. In some cases, general anesthesia may be preferable.

Small incisions are made in the area where the fat will be extracted. A small tube called a “cannula” is then inserted into the incision. After tumescent fluid (which further anesthetizes the tissues and inhibits bleeding) is inserted, a suction device is attached to the other end of the cannula. The cannula is moved back and forth as the suction device extracts the fat cells.

The fat is purified and separated from impurities (i.e. blood or other products).  This highly purified fat is then injected into the face or neck using a fine needle.

Some of the fat is absorbed by the body in the weeks after the treatment; but in our experience, if the fat survives around 6 months, it typically lasts for many, many years.

Recovering from Fat Transfer

A few hours after your surgery, you can go home with someone’s help. You will not be able to drive right away.

Most people take about a week off from work after liposuction and fat transfer. You may require a compression garment to wear over the areas where the fat was harvested. This will reduce swelling. You should be able to exercise in two to three weeks.

There will be some bruising, swelling, itching, and mild discomfort for 1-2 weeks. You can take pain medication to ease the discomfort, and we will provide you with oral and topical medication to speed the resolution of the bruising.

You should be able to see the results of the fat transfer in about 4 months. At that time, you will be able to tell if a subsequent procedure will be necessary. We will, of course, see you in post-operative appointments to monitor your healing in both areas.

Schedule a consultation

At the Center for Facial and Body Rejuvenation, our board-certified facial plastic surgeons will spend time with you to understand your aesthetic goals, and they will examine you carefully to determine the best fat transfer plan to achieve those goals.

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