Fat Transfer - Putting Your Fat to Good Use

Replacing facial volume lost with aging by relocating your own fat can restore youthful facial proportions as well as improve the appearance of the skin. And isn't it great to get a benefit by moving fat from where you didn't want it to a place where it looks good? 

Fat grafting can be used to fill out multiple areas of the face or in localized areas anywhere on the body, and many people have a large supply of it. It can be used to plump up aging hands and correct depressions from previous liposuction, surgical defects and scars.

Using your own fat eliminates the potential complications associated with foreign material or allergies, and the results sometimes last over 10 years. Many people who might need multiple syringes of dermal filler, have a large supply of "donor" fat, making a fat transfer relatively less expensive than the same volume of dermal filler.  

Another advantage to fat grafting is that fat is rich with growth factors and stem cells. Stem cells are cells in your body that can make multiple kinds of new cells, and the factors they release produce multiple effects like smoother, firmer skin, when used in the face. 

Storing extra fat obtained during a fat harvesting procedure can be done to provide you not only with available fat for a touchup procedure, but the regenerative cells derived from fat are a type of "bio-insurance" that may be important in treating your future diseases or injuries.  Read more to learn about storing fat.

Fat is not an optimal choice for filling depressions under the eyes, for superficial wrinkles, and it often doesn't persist for more than a few months when used for lip enhancement.

Why do I not recommend fat transfers for everyone interested in volume replacement?

I hate for my patients to be disappointed so I try to avoid recommending treatments that have unpredictable results. Fat transfer results are unpredictable, even when the same amounts of fat are injected. Some people maintain the volume that the fat restored for over ten years and some people lose most or all of their improvement within the first three months. It's impossible to predict who will get the best results with fat grafting. I tell patients that if they aren't going to be willing to repeat the fat transfer treatment within the first few months, if the results from the first isn't sufficient, then they probably shouldn't invest in the procedure. For the price of a medium-sized fat transfer, they can have a treatment with 3 cc of Voluma, which is not a large volume in comparison, but the Voluma results will predictably be visible for about two years.

What's involved in a fat transfer?

A consultation is done to determine if a patient is a good candidate for fat grafting and to evaluate how much fat should be transferred. Patients on anticoagulants, heavy smokers, with uncontrolled medical problems, and those with body dysmorphic disorder, are not candidates for this procedure.

On the day of the treatment, after local anesthetic is applied to the donor site (usually the abdomen), Dr. Elliott gently removes some fat with a microcannula, washes and concentrates it, and then meticulously injects the fat through tiny cannulas into the areas desired.

The area from where the fat was harvested is dressed with a bulky dressing to absorb the remaining anesthetic and is usually minimally tender for a few days after the procedure. There's usually not enough fat removed to produce a cosmetic result similar to general liposuction. Facial bruising and swelling can vary from mild to severe, depending on the patient and the amount of fat transferred. Patients can usually return to social and work activities within three days.

What are potential problems or complications with fat transfer?

Like any procedure utilizing injections, complications can include bleeding and bruising at the harvesting or injecting sites, and infection is a rare but potentially serious complication.  

As with dermal fillers, over-correction and under-correction can occur. Since fat may last permanently where it's grafted, over-correction can only be corrected by removing it surgically.

Because patients are all different in so many ways, fat transfer does not have the same results in everyone & may not an individual's best choice. 

Fat grafting fees range from $1,100 to $2,700, not including any touchups.

Call our office at 727-571-1923 today for a free consultation to learn if fat grafting or another treatment can best help you achieve the look you want.

  • Before and after dermal fillers and fat transfer