Facial aging is primarily due to:
- skin changes (as evidenced by sun damage, loss of skin elasticity)
- gravitational descent
- loss of facial volume
There is a natural fullness that is associated with youth that we lose as we age. In the past, plastic surgeons focused on a two-dimensional approach to facial rejuvenation by tightening the skin envelope and muscle without sufficient thought given to volume. A key concept to address in facial rejuvenation is to restore lost facial volume. This goal can be achieved by injecting synthetic fillers or one’s own fat to camouflage wrinkles and lines or fill in areas of volume loss. Autologous fat has the advantage of being your own tissue and therefore there is no risk of an allergic response when injected. After injection, the fat cells that grow a blood supply and live will remain, providing a permanent result.
Fat harvest and transfer can be done under local anesthesia (for small transfers) or under general anesthesia in combination with other rejuvenation procedures such as a facelift. Your own fat can be harvested from the abdomen or thigh, processed, and carefully transferred to other areas of the face (i.e. cheeks, lateral brow, nasolabial fold, and tear trough region) and body for long-lasting results. There is little pain associated with the procedure and often over-the-counter analgesics are sufficient in the post-procedure recovery period. Multiple treatments are occasionally necessary to achieve optimal results.
Other indications for fat grafting include:
- filling in contour abnormalities after breast reconstruction
- scar release and volume replacement beneath a depressed scar
- hand rejuvenation
- treatment of significant volume loss in disease states resulting in facial atrophy including Romberg disease and HIV
- larger volume fat grafting may be used for autologous breast augmentation