Re-injecting Fat from Your Own Body for Rejuvenation
A fat transfer provides an opportunity to transfer fat from one part of the body to another. As we age we lose subcutaneous fat, which makes the skin fall back toward the facial bones, producing a “skeletal” look. This volume loss accounts for much of the fatigued, drawn look associated with getting older. Fat transfers can correct this volume loss. It is also helpful for filling in depressions and dimpling caused by scars such as acne pitting. Since the fat comes from your own body, there is no risk of rejection or immune reaction.*
During a fat transfer procedure, fat is harvested from areas where it is plentiful, purified and re-injected where it is needed. The most common re-injection sites are the face, buttocks and the back of hands. Dr. Jochen prefers hyaluronic acid fillers for hand rejuvenation to fat transfer due to their enhanced smoothness. Regarding facial fat transfer, Dr. Jochen recommends injections for the temples and the cheek area. Depending on a person’s reserve of fat, fat transfers also can be performed to augment the derriere.
This outpatient procedure is performed at our offices and requires no general anesthetic. A local anesthetic along with intravenous pain medication and sedation may be used at the onset. Although a fat transfer is generally a very safe procedure, some of the potential risks are infection, bleeding, bruising, numbness, pain and irregular or lumpy outcome. If you have had cold sores (Herpes simplex), an outbreak may occur following your procedure. We advise using Valtrex, an anti-viral medication, prior to the procedure, to minimize this minor but annoying risk
Expect swelling and possibly bruising that will last approximately one week. You will more than likely experience some discomfort during the first couple of days until the swelling starts to recede.* You can resume light activities within a few days, but your face will not look normal yet. It is best to wait at least 7 days before returning to strenuous activities. If possible, we suggest you take a week off to recuperate.
How long a fat transfer lasts depends on how many of the fat cells survive the first few weeks after transplant. Because the fat loses its blood supply when we take it out of your body, we use a very careful technique when we reinject it, to make sure it develops a new blood supply in the new area. Not all the cells will survive, but typically 60-70% will remain long term.*
Areas with less muscle movement (such as around the eyes) tend to retain more of the fat. The chances of long-term survival of the fat cells are much better if we put in very small amounts at a time. The best results are obtained with a series of treatments, usually three, about 4-6 weeks apart.* We will obtain enough fat the first time for all three procedures, and freeze what we don’t use, so it will be ready for your next appointment.
Scarring is unlikely. A few, small (about 1/4″) incisions are made in the fat collection areas, and on your face (to inject it), but these almost always heal with minimal or no scarring.*
Is Fat Transfer for You?
If you’ve noticed that your face is becoming drawn and developing a hollow look, consider coming in for a consultation. Dr. Jochen will show you what fat transfers have done for other patients, and give you his professional opinion about what they can do for you.
During your pre-op evaluation, we will discuss which areas would benefit most from this procedure. A consultation is essential to discuss your individual needs. We usually suggest bringing in a photo of yourself when you were younger. This helps us determine where to replace lost facial fat.