As we age, our bodies begin to lose shape in certain areas. The buttocks, hands and face are some regions where the skin can begin to look sunken due to factors like natural aging, genetics and sun exposure. Various treatments are available that work to restore the volume in different areas of the body, and fat grafting is one such technique that enhances your body’s natural contours. At Southern California Center for Surgical Arts, Dr. Husam Elias performs fat transfers for patients looking to rejuvenate areas of the face that have begun to look wrinkled and sunken so that they may achieve an enhanced appearance.
What Is Fat Grafting?
A fat transfer is a minimally invasive procedure involving the removal of unwanted fat from one area of the body and moving it to another area using narrow and hollow tubes to create a fuller, more youthful look. Sections of the body where fat is typically removed include the stomach, love handles or buttocks where it is gently treated and transferred to areas like the cheeks, jaw, breasts, areas near the eyes or the buttocks (known as a Brazilian Butt Lift). Fat grafting can also enhance the definition of certain body contours such as various muscles around the chest, arms, abdomen and back.
Although fat grafting involves fat removal, it differs from liposuction in that only small sections of fat are extracted, and both procedures are always performed together. Smaller portions help ensure a more precise distribution of fat to create natural results.
Should I Consider Fat Grafting Surgery?
If you are beginning to feel a loss of volume in your face or other areas, then fat grafting may be a procedure to consider. Laugh lines, crow’s feet and other facial creases are all signs that the skin is becoming more hollow and wrinkled. Fat grafting can also be used in conjunction with a facelift, brow lift or eyelid surgery.
Some benefits of fat grafting include:
- Heightened-looking bone structure
- A softer countenance
- Fuller features
- Smooth-looking skin
- An even complexion
- Reduced wrinkles and lines
- Minimally invasive
- Long-lasting results
Scarring and other wounds can also be treated with the fat grafting procedure to improve the texture of the skin and repair surface damage. If you notice hollow areas of your face or an increase in wrinkles that are effecting the way you feel about your appearance, fat grafting can provide rejuvenation and help you regain confidence.
How Is Fat Grafting Performed?
Before beginning the fat grafting process. Dr. Elias must determine whether the procedure is right for you. He’ll assess your qualifications during a consultation in his Sherman Oaks office, where he will locate the donor sites where fat will be taken and review your medical history. Good candidates for fat grafting are those who have good blood circulation and who don’t smoke. You must also have a reasonable amount of fat located in other areas of your body that you can use to re-inject into an improvement area.
Once Dr. Elias determines that you are a good candidate for fat grafting, you will come in for treatment and be placed under IV sedation or general anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used will depend on the amount of fat being extracted and re-injected, but typically small amounts of fat can be removed using a local anesthetic. Anything larger will require IV or general anesthesia.
Using liposuction techniques, fat will be extracted from the donor areas and then processed in a centrifugation system to remove excess debris and liquid from the fat. After the usable fat cells are collected, they are injected in small amounts into the treatment area. The amount of fat injected will depend on the area needing improvement as well as the specifics of your patient case. Although fat grafting is usually an outpatient procedure, multiple treatments may be necessary in order to achieve desired results.
What Happens Once the Fat Grafting Surgery is Complete?
After surgery, recovery time will be necessary but should be minimal. You can expect some swelling and puffiness at the injection sites for about a week, and it will begin to subside after the second week of recovery. After the third week, your face should be returning back to its normal countenance, but you may continue to lose some volume within the next three to six months as your body continues to accept the new fat. By six months, your procedure should have healed completely.
During your recovery, Dr. Elias will schedule follow-up appointments with you to make sure your fat graft is healing properly. Touch-ups may also be made if you have fat left over in a fat bank.
A fat bank is a good option for those who think they’ll have another fat-grafting procedure in the future without having to undergo another liposuction procedure. Stem cells can also be harvested from a fat bank and used for skin rejuvenation and arthritis treatment.