How It Works
Fat grafting or fat injection cosmetic surgery is a versatile procedure that can add fullness to areas of your body that age naturally diminishes.
It is typically used to fill sunken areas beneath the eyes, fleshing out certain areas of the face, such as “laugh lines” and nasolabial folds, and filling in forehead creases or augmenting sunken cheek areas, as examples.
This fat transfer procedure removes fat from the donor part of your body where it is abundant and places it in an area where the additional bulk will achieve the cosmetic effects you and your doctor seek.
This procedure is sometimes performed alone; sometimes it may be used to complement a full facelift.
Its use is not limited to cosmetics, however. It can also be used to counteract the effects of radiation treatments, facial damage from scarring, acne, or diseases such as hemifacial atrophy.
At your initial consultation with Dr. Heffelfinger, Dr. Krein, or Dr. Pribitkin in Philadelphia, your doctor will conduct a thorough interview so he has a full understanding of your medical history. He will want to know about earlier surgeries, current medical conditions and medications you are taking as well as any dietary or other allergies you may have.
He will then talk to you about your goals and the cosmetic changes you seek with the fat grafting procedure. Some patients are better candidates for this surgery and will realize better results. And some patients, because of their age, medical history or other factors will not be candidates.
For instance, many times doctors will advise against fat transfer for breast augmentation as it can make future breast cancer detection more difficult.
He will thoroughly examine both the donor area from which the fat will be harvested as well as the recipient area for suitability.
He will explain the surgery in detail and discuss how it may be used to achieve the look you seek. In addition to discussing this surgery, your doctor may discuss other cosmetic surgical options that might benefit you. He will show you before and after pictures of former patients so you have a better understanding of the results you may expect.
The doctors at Jefferson Facial Plastics in Philadelphia, with their excellent training and extensive experience with hundreds of these operations, will answer all your questions.
At the end of your consultation, you will fully understand the surgical procedure, the surgical facility, anesthesia options, and the cosmetic benefits you might expect. He will also inform you of the recovery process and timeframe, and costs.
The fat to be transferred is withdrawn in one of two ways:
- The use of a syringe with a large-bore needle or with a liposuction cannula
- Excision of the fat directly from the donor site. In this case, your doctor will use small incisions to place the fat directly into the site rather than injecting it
Your doctor will decide the best area to use as the donor area but typical donor areas include the inner thighs, inner knees and the stomach.
After removing the fat, he will centrifuge it to expel all impurities, water and blood. All fatty oils are then wicked away, leaving the compacted fat to then be inserted in the chosen area.
He will then use a small syringe to place the fat in the recipient area.
The entire operation is usually carried out in your doctor’s surgical facility in his offices.
The long term success of the operation will be dependent on the body’s absorption versus retention of the fat transfer, among other things.
Generally speaking, in the range of 40-60% of the transferred fat will remain in its intended area permanently. As a result, your doctor will typically inject a greater amount of fat than needed to compensate for this absorption.
Your doctor may recommend follow-up fat grafting to augment or further improve the results of the operation.
You will likely experience some bruising or swelling in both the donor and recipient areas. And, as mentioned above, your doctor usually injects excess fat to account for the body’s absorption of part of it. This excess amount might make your face look swollen for a week or so as your body absorbs the excess.
Most patients return to their normal activities almost immediately.
Your doctor will instruct you on what activities or other actions you should avoid during the healing process. He will also schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress.
Of course, he is available at all times should you have any questions or concerns during your recovery process.