What Is Fat Grafting?
Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer or fat injections, is a procedure used in plastic surgery to enhance a specific area of the body using the patient’s own fat. As a facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Thompson uses this procedure, often in conjunction with a facelift and/or blepharoplasty, to restore lost facial volume utilizing fat tissues from the abdomen, thighs or back.
In more recent years, we have learned that aging is not just skin deep. Overtime, volume is lost in the face resulting in a sunken or gaunt appearance. By adding volume to the face with fat grafting, fullness is restored leaving patients looking more youthful and refreshed. There is also some evidence to suggest that fat grafting may actually improve the quality of the overlying skin.
It’s important to choose a plastic surgeon with extensive training and experience in fat grafting. As with any cosmetic procedure, fat grafting can be overdone resulting in an unnatural appearance. A good plastic surgeon understands the unique anatomy of the face and provides excellent aesthetic judgment about how and where fat is injected.
Who Is An Ideal Candidate for Fat Transfer?
A good candidate is any patient who suffers from facial volume loss and desires correction. It’s important the patient has good to excellent health and realistic expectations regarding their outcome.
What Should I Expect at My Consultation?
Dr. Scott Thompson, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon in Utah, has extensive experience with fat grafting. During your consultation, he will discuss your concerns as well as your goals and motivations for surgery. An exam and review of your current and previous health history will also take place.
He will then examine the structures of your face and eyes, and will make recommendations he feels will help you achieve your aesthetic goals. Dr. Thompson will discuss the procedure(s) he recommends and give information on where incisions will be placed, possible risks and complications, and make any non-surgical recommendations to enhance the overall surgical outcome.
Dr. Thompson will advise you to avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen products, Vitamin E and certain herbal medications before surgery, as these medications can cause increased bleeding and/or bruising. He will also insist that you discontinue smoking for at least one month prior to surgery to ensure proper healing, if applicable.
Jessica, Dr. Thompson’s Patient Care Coordinator, will then provide you with all the financial details on any procedure discussed at your consultation and give financing options if applicable. She can also help facilitate the next step in the process and/or provide additional resources, such as before and after photos, articles, educational videos, etc.
How Is Fat Transfer Performed?
Dr. Thompson will tailor your procedure to your specific needs since it does vary from patient to patient. Dr. Thompson often recommends a facelift to lift and tighten the facial skin in conjunction with fat injections to restore volume. See our facelift page for more information on the procedure and recovery.
Sometimes fat injections are recommended for just a certain area of the face, such as under the eyes to fill in tear trough lines. This can be done in the office or a surgical center as well. If done in conjunction with a lower blepharoplasty, the entire procedure will likely be done in the surgical center. You can learn more on our tear trough rejuvenation page.
Fat is taken from another are of the body, such as the thigh or abdomen, and remixed for optimal use. Dr. Thompson then injects the fat into areas of volume loss. This can be done in the office under local anesthetic in most cases or can be performed in the surgical center under general anesthesia. If a facelift or other surgical procedure is recommended, it will likely be performed at an out-patient surgical center.
Common areas Dr. Thompson uses fat grafting include:
- Sunken cheeks
- Hollow temples
- Tear trouphs
- Nasolabial folds
- Marionette lines (frown lines)
- Skin depressions
- Facial creases and wrinkles
What Should I Expect with Recovery from Fat Transfer?
For fat injections, plan on 1- 2 weeks of recovery with some bruising and swelling. There will be a small incision on the thigh or abdomen where the fat was taken from and will be closed with 1-2 sutures.