Facial Fat Grafting

facialmodelTake a look at the faces that grace the cover of most magazines, and notice that many of the young faces are full, with cheeks that often have an “apple” shape. The face has an “ice-cream cone” appearance: fuller at the top and more diminutive toward the chin. As we age, the faces loses this full appearance due to loss of fat volume and loosening of some of the underlying supporting elements of facial soft tissue. The net result is a hollowing of the cheek, deepening of the creases adjacent to the mouth, and jowling along the border of the jaw. One of the techniques that is useful in restoring youthful volume to the aging face is facial fat grafting.

To learn more about facial fat grafting, or to schedule a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons, please contact our office today.

About Facial Fat Grafting

The aim of facial fat grafting (also called fat injection) is to redistribute fatty tissue to cosmetically enhance your appearance. This technique allows our facelift surgeons at Richmond Aesthetic Surgery to strategically reintroduce your own cells to areas of your face that exhibit fine lines, wrinkles, or the lost volume that results from the natural aging process. Although the technique has been around for decades, over the last few years, the biology of facial fat grafting has become clearer, and the techniques for successful fat harvest and transplantation have been refined. Recent studies suggest that the fat harvested for grafting contains fat precursor cells (stem cells). When these stem cells are placed in a highly vascular area containing other fat cells, the stem cells develop into new fat cells. In addition, these stem cells emit certain growth factors that may help fix age-related changes in the surrounding cellular environment. The result of these biological processes is restoration of fat volume to the face.

To perform fat grafting, Dr. Neil Zemmel first takes excess fat from one area of the body via liposuction, such as the abdomen, flanks, or hips. These harvested cells are then refined and injected into the target areas of the face, which can fill in depressions in the skin, create youthful volume, and rejuvenate facial skin. The fat grafting procedure essentially provides a double benefit: it eliminates excess fat from one area of the body and then utilizes those fat cells to enhance the facial appearance.

Fat grafting techniques and technology have advanced dramatically in recent years, allowing for more successful fat transfers and beautiful, lasting results. In fact, transferred fat cells can continue to generate new fat cells that compensate for the continued loss of volume that results naturally from age. Many of our patients use fat grafting as an essential part of their skin rejuvenation, and the treatment can easily be combined with our other facial plastic surgery procedures for even greater results.

Facial Fat Grafting Consultation

Ideal candidates for facial fat grafting surgery include healthy men and women who have lost volume and developed lines and depressions of the skin as they have grown older. In order to determine if facial fat grafting can provide the look you desire, one of our plastic surgeons will conduct a thorough exam of your facial features and contours. Cosmetic conditions that can be addressed and successfully corrected with fat grafting include:

  • Loss of cheek volume
  • Loss of lip volume
  • Loss of volume around the temples
  • Loss of volume along the jawline
  • “Marionette” lines
  • Deep lines along the forehead
  • Deep depression of the tear troughs
  • A hollowed look around the eyes

Successful facial fat grafting requires that each patient maintain realistic surgical expectations. Clear doctor-patient communication with Dr. Zemmel and is also essential to achieving your individual aesthetic goals. Occasionally, Dr. Zemmel may recommend an auxiliary facial procedure for a more comprehensive rejuvenation. Since smoking can compromise the results of facial fat grafting, our doctor recommends that patients stop smoking well before the date of their treatment.

After your surgeon has determined you to be a good candidate for facial fat grafting, they will provide detailed pre-operative instructions in preparation for your procedure.

Your Facial Fat Grafting Procedure

All facial fat grafting procedures are performed by Richmond Aesthetic Surgery’s plastic surgeons. Depending on the approach of your treatment, either deep sedation or general anesthesia will be administered by a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and Nurse Anesthetist. Facial fat grafting usually takes about one hour to complete and is considered an outpatient procedure. However, patients who are having other facial procedures performed simultaneously are occasionally required to stay overnight.

Your Facial Fat Grafting Recovery

After your fat grafting procedure, you will be given a topical antibiotic to apply to the treatment areas. You will also be instructed to keep your head elevated for the first several days to reduce any associated swelling. Any pain you may experience should be mild and can often be easily controlled with oral pain medication. Though it is possible for patients to experience some numbness around the injection sites, full sensation typically returns within 6 weeks. After 3-5 days, you should begin to see the cosmetic improvement from your procedure. Over the next few weeks, the results from your facial fat grafting treatment should be clearly visible and you can enjoy fuller, more youthful-looking skin. Since new fat cells may continue to grow over the course of the next 6 months after treatment, the outcome of your procedure may continue to develop and improve. Fat harvesting and injection techniques have improved tremendously over the last 5-10 years, resulting in more consistent and reliable results with facial fat grafting. Despite these improvements, it is assumed that 30-40% of fat is lost in the transfer process. As a result, some patients with significant facial volume loss may require additional fat injection procedures to achieve their desired results.

Turn back the hands of time and renew your youthful appearance.


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