When the body ages, fat stores in the face, leaving those areas hollowed and sunken. With the help of cosmetic surgery, fat can be taken from a different part of the body and transplanted to the deficient area. By injecting fat into various lines and odd contours in the skin, the patient looks younger.
Autologous fat transplantation, or fat/microfat injection, involves a plastic surgeon withdrawing excess fat with a special instrument, processing the cells and injecting them back into the patient in the desired location. The process must be done gently so as not to damage the fat cells. Either general or local anesthesia may be used, depending on the amount of fat being removed and injected.
Depending on the amount of fat injected, the patient might have to limit physical activity for the fat to settle into its new location. Often, however, patients can immediately resume their daily activities. Both the area fat was taken from as well as the area it was injected will probably bruise and swell, and the patient should keep out of the sun until bruising and redness have subsided. In the meantime, make-up with sunblock can be used to cover up. The bruising usually lasts three days.
Before a fat injection procedure, a doctor may require the patient to stop taking certain medications or, depending on the location of the surgery, may ask the patient to temporarily stop smoking. It’s important to follow the doctor’s pre-op instructions to avoid any complications. After the surgery, the patient may resume their normal activities.
Because some of the fat gets reabsorbed, the area must be overfilled with processed fat cells, leaving it swelled for up to two weeks. The lips, a popular place to get a fat injection, are especially prone to swelling. Other areas of the face fat is often injected into are laugh lines, crows feet at the corners of the eyes and forehead wrinkles.
Hands are also a target for fat injection. As the fat in the backs of hands atrophies with age, tendons and veins stand out a lot more, often making hands a tell-tale sign of age. By injecting fat into the sunken areas of the hands, they look much more youthful.
Fat is one of the most popular fillers for augmentation, particularly in the face and hands. The good thing about autologous fat transplantation is that, because the fat comes from the patient’s own body, there’s no risk of allergic reaction. Another benefit of using a patient’s own fat is that it lasts longer than bovine collagen injections. Other common fillers, collagen and restylane, have their own benefits depending on the injection area — collagen, a natural protein found in the human body, can be made thicker or thinner depending on the patient’s needs, and restylane, also found naturally in the human body, gives volume and hydration to the skin.
Fat injections, like any other augmentation fillers, are not permanent. The fat will eventually be absorbed back into the body, and the effects of the injection will no longer be visible. Injections can last from a few months to a few years, but most patients see a decrease in fullness after the first six months.