Should I have dermal fillers vs fat transfer? This is arguably the most common question of patients wanting to rejuvenate their face with the use of “volumizers,” which can be combined with facelift surgery for a more holistic, more natural result.
Leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says that dermal fillers are readily available materials injected into the soft tissue, while fat transfer uses the most natural material possible—i.e., the patient’s own fat that is usually derived from the tummy and flanks, areas that typically carry “unwanted” fat cells.
In essence, dermal fillers and fat transfer fill in the cracks and depressions that are typically caused by age-induced facial volume loss, while facelift removes the loose skin and tighten the deeper structures.
Dr. Smiley says that patients older than 55 typically require both procedures because their aging appearance are caused by facial volume loss and soft tissue laxity (sagging).
The celebrity plastic surgeon says he prefers fat transfer to dermal fillers because of the former’s longer lasting results, averaging 12-15 years.
Fillers, meanwhile, are usually repeated at 3-4 month intervals to maintain the plump up appearance. Hence, it is safe to surmise that in the long run they are more expensive than fat transfer, says Dr. Smiley.
Aside from the “long term” cost of dermal fillers, many surgeons have suggested that fat transfer remains superior because it adheres to the core principle of “replacing likes with likes” and so the results are perceived to be softer and more natural looking.
Should there is a need to address deep depression and cracks at the time of facelift surgery, Dr. Smiley performs a simultaneous fat transfer; this is more convenient than having two separate procedures, which of course can lead to additional cost and multiple recovery.
Dr. Smiley often uses a simultaneous fat transfer to further soften the nasolabial folds, or laugh lines; and to create a smooth transition between the lower lid and upper cheek.
Failure to address the “abrupt” lid-cheek junction, Dr. Smiley warns, can lead to unnatural facelift results manifested by skeletonized eye socket and crescent-shaped bulge right below the lower lid. Simply put, fat transfer “fine tunes” the effects of facial rejuvenation surgery.
Meanwhile, Dr. Smiley typically reserves dermal fillers for first-time patients who need volumizers as a stand-alone procedure. Should they are happy with the results, they may ask for a more permanent treatment in the form of fat transfer later on.