Fat transfer, also known as fat injections or fat grafting, involves taking fat from one part of your body and injecting it into the face to boost volume and smooth wrinkles. This increasingly popular cosmetic surgery procedure involves taking fat from one area of the body (usually the stomach or thighs) and injecting it into ‘sunken’ or wrinkles areas of the face to add fullness to the injected area, in much the same way as dermal fillers. For some people the main appeal of fat injections is that they are using something from their own body rather than a foreign material. However one of the downsides of many fat injection techniques is that not all of the fat cells survive so you can get uneven, less predictable results than with dermal fillers.
Am I a Candidate? Suitable candidates for a fat transfer procedure are those who wish to plump out the skin. Fat can be used to fill out the lips, chin, hollows underneath the eyes and acne scars, as well as helping to correct defects caused by surgery and injuries. Fat transfer is also becoming popular for plumping out skin on the backs of the hands, buttocks and breasts.
Before Surgery Your first discussion with a practitioner should clearly set out your expectations of the treatment. This should be matched by what the doctor says the treatment will achieve for you. This treatment involves both liposuction (the removal of excess fat) and fat transfer (injecting that fat back into the desired area), so you need to be prepared for two treatments.
During Surgery The first stage of a fat transfer treatment involves collecting the fat from the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs. Small 5mm incisions are made around the area to be treated, and a hollow suction tube (cannula) is put in and moved around to break up the unwanted fat. The fat is removed but the surface layer of skin remains attached to the tissue and underlying muscles, and a thin blanket of fat is left to help prevent rippling or lumpy or irregular looking skin following fat removal. The collected fat is then prepared before reinjection into the new area. For small areas of fat transfer to the face, tiny needles are used to distribute the fat carefully and evenly in the layer of the skin just under the surface. The whole procedure may only take an hour or so if small amounts of fat are collected and transferred.
Recovery – Depending on the extent of the liposuction procedure, you may be able to return between 1-7 days following your fat transfer surgery.
Benefits – A fat transfer procedure reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles, plumping out skin to restore lost volume. A further benefit to a fat transfer procedure is that it uses your own fat so it is compatible with your body and will not cause allergic reactions.
Risks and Complications – The potential side effects of a fat transfer procedure include some pressure, movement, and stinging whilst fat is removed and again when it is injected into the new area, but the treatment is rarely painful. Expect some bruising and swelling around the area from where the fat was collected and the newly injected area. Fat transfer is a very safe procedure, and more serious risks or side effects such as infection, numbness and nerve damage are rare.
Cost – Prices for a fat transfer operation can range from £2000-£4000 or more depending on the number of procedures required to achieve the desired result.
Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon – Ensure you select a cosmetic surgeon who is adept at both fat removal and fat transfer procedures to carry out this treatment.