Facial fat transfer has become an integral part of facelift surgery, and for some patients it could even serve as a stand-alone procedure. Today’s plastic surgeons have recognized that surgical dissection to lift the sagging tissue is not enough to achieve optimal rejuvenating effects.
Facial fat transfer is not just about collecting donor fats from the abdomen, thigh, or hips and then injecting them into certain facial regions. First and foremost, one of the primary goals is to reshape the face in a way that it looks young.
But what is the inherent shape of a youthful face?
Young people have full cheeks [and tight jaw line] because of the abundance of “baby fat,” leading to a somewhat heart-shaped face. But in late thirties most will experience loss of fat especially in the lower eyelid and cheeks, while jowling—sagging skin and possible some fat in the lower third of the face—may start to show.
Simply put, aging turns the once heart-shaped face into a triangular appearance since the lower facial region looks “full” or “fleshy.”
Fat transfer aims to restore facial volume loss and when carefully executed the results can last for many years. Its long-lasting nature makes it appealing to patients who want to avoid regular “touch-ups” required by traditional fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm.
Aside from correcting volume loss, facial fat transfer can also soften the appearance of laugh lines or nasolabial folds and other deep creases.
A good number of facelift patients are advised to undergo simultaneous facial fat transfer to avoid “reminders” of surgery that could present themselves after several years.
The appearance of hollow lower eyelid can further aggravate the cheek “crescent” or sag, two common reminders of facelift that may appear years after surgery. Aside from a surgical dissection technique that goes deeper into the cheek/mid face muscle, fat transfer can also prevent these “future” problems and allow the face to age well.
Despite giving impressive rejuvenating effects, not all facelift surgeons offer facial fat transfer because it requires a steeper learning curve compared to readily available traditional fillers. Also, the survival rate of grafts might be different among doctors since there is no standardized process.
However, surgeons from Inland Empire Plastic Surgery Institute all agree that purifying the donor fats (i.e., removing biomaterials such as blood) and microdroplet injection techniques can lead to high survival rate and long-lasting results.