Fat transfer has become a popular cosmetic surgery procedure among individuals due to its pleasing and natural results along with other benefits. Patients can transfer some of their fat to their faces or other parts of their bodies if they are unhappy with their volume and contour, enhancing both parts of the patient’s body.

Fat transfer is a minimally invasive and versatile procedure, making it appealing to a broad audience. Plastic surgeons can achieve different goals with the procedure, and among them are filling in lost facial volume. If you are considering a facial fat transfer, learning about the procedure and its risks are crucial for a successful outcome.

What is Fat Transfer?

Fat transfer involves transferring fat from areas with excess fat and injecting it into areas with less volume. Facial fat transfer procedures are another way of filling in indentations using a patient’s fat. Surgeons can perform any of the following in a typical facial fat transfer procedure:

  • Fat removal from a patient’s abdomen, thighs, or other areas and inject it into the face if it has creases
  • Fill in acne scars and hollow facial, lip, and cheek areas

They can also achieve the following using grafted fat:

  • Decrease lines between the nose and mouth
  • Correct hollowed skin
  • Decrease wrinkles on the forehead

Surgeons can also perform fat injections or fat grafting on other areas of the body as well. These areas include but are not limited to the following:

  • Hands
  • Breasts
  • Buttocks

What Should You Consider Before Undergoing the Procedure?

Undergoing facial fat transfer is an important decision despite it being a relatively minor procedure. You will have to consider the following factors below before undergoing fat transfer procedures:

  • A patient’s risk of getting allergies due to foreign substances is reduced in fat transfer procedures since autologous fat replaces “like with like.”
  • Fat transfer yields natural, long-lasting, and safe results.
  • Patients can achieve facial rejuvenation with this procedure as it is non-invasive.
  • Preparing fat tissue for transfer is time-consuming.

It is also worth noting that fat transfer is not ideal for everyone. Individuals can be perfect candidates for the procedure if they want to achieve the following:

  • Add subtle, natural volume to one or more areas of their body
  • Rejuvenate an aging face

Patients should also have:

  • Good general health
  • Sufficient body fat (less fat for facial fat transfer)
  • Realistic expectations for the procedure

How Should You Prepare for Facial Fat Transfer?

Before you undergo facial fat transfer, the surgeon will perform the following steps:

  • Provide you with detailed preoperative instructions
  • Answer any possible questions
  • Record your complete medical history
  • Perform a physical examination on you

They will also request the following:

  • No smoking for at least six weeks before the procedure
  • No aspirin, anti-inflammatory medicine, and vitamins or homeopathic treatments
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home post-surgery and accompany you for at least the first 24 hours

It is also crucial to hydrate yourself before and after undergoing fat transfer to the face to ensure a safe recovery and yield the best results.

How do Surgeons Perform Facial Fat Transfer?

Surgeons can perform fat transfer in any of the following facilities:

  • An accredited hospital
  • A free-standing ambulatory facility
  • A surgical room in an office

Doctors will first acquire all necessary fat from the patient using a limited liposculpture. They insert it through one or several small incisions (3-5mm). Surgeons will then remove fat from the patient’s abdomen or inner thigh. They will then centrifuge, filter, or rinse it, resulting in pure liquid fatty tissue ready for injection.

Once the fat is processed, surgeons will inject it in the necessary area. They will inject little portions of fat in the tissues for equal distribution. This step ensures that healthy tissue will surround the injected fat as well as makes sure that the transplanted fat still touch and remain in contact with the surrounding tissues. A fat transfer or fat grafting procedure typically lasts for about an hour depending on the size of the treated area.

How Long is the Recovery Process?

Fat transfer injections are minimally invasive, making patients recover for a shorter period compared to other procedures and quickly resume their daily activities. However, they may still experience common side effects as they recuperate. These side effects may include:

  • Significant bruising and swelling
  • Temporary numbness
  • Small scars
  • Some fat loss from the injected area

Bruising, swelling, and other forms of discomfort commonly occur in patients. Fortunately, medicine can control any pain. The swelling will also subside from the third day onwards post-surgery. Patients may continue social activities around a week after undergoing facial fat transfer.

Fat Transfer to Face: How Long Does it Last?

The effects of facial fat transfer may also last for years to come. The duration of the results, however, will depend on particular factors such as:

  • The amount of stress that the patient has
  • Exposure to sunlight and smoking
  • The patient’s innate genetics and facial structure

Fat survival and the resulting longevity are also dependent on:

  • The surgeon’s expertise
  • How the doctor harvested and purified the fat
  • How and where the doctor injected the fat

Thus, a very competent surgeon is needed for a successful procedure. Patients will slowly see visible facial fat transfer results over a period of months. They will appear as the swelling goes down and the grafted fat establishes itself in the treated areas. Patients should also see the outcome of the procedure at around six months after the surgery.