Fat transfer to nasolabial folds or “laugh lines” can provide the same effect as traditional fillers like Juvederm and Restylane, or sometimes even give better results because it uses the most natural material—your own fat.
Leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley has recently posted videos on Snapchat to demonstrate a female patient who received fat injection to smooth out her laugh lines.
The appearance of laugh lines stems from two things: The sagging of your skin and other soft tissues, and facial volume loss.
In “younger” patients—i.e., 50 years and below—the nasolabial folds are mainly caused by facial volume or fat loss. Hence, they can avoid or at least postpone facelift, which relies on tightening the skin and soft tissue, and instead resort to volume restoration treatments such as conventional fillers and fat injection.
Fillers made of hyaluronic acid products like Restylane and Juvederm have impressive safety record because HA is naturally found in the body; in fact, it gives the skin its youthful glow and texture. However, the improvement only lasts 4-6 months on average, says Dr. Smiley.
If you are looking for a more permanent solution for your nasolabial folds, or any depression that primarily stems from volume loss, using your fat is a much better approach. Just a few teaspoons of unwanted fat from your tummy or thigh is enough to conceal your laugh lines.
And since your body does not treat your fat as a foreign material, your immune system will not attack it. This is not always the case with facial implants and synthetic, non-degradable fillers like ArteFill.
Aside from the long-term results of fat transfer to nasolabial folds, Dr. Smiley says the approach tends to provide more natural results than facial implants and conventional fillers. Moreover, fat shrinks and expands as you lose or gain weight, further leading to its natural effects.
The fat is also rich in stem cells and so the skin in the areas where the fat has been grafted will experience “visible” improvements, says Dr. Smiley.
It may come as a surprise that not every facial plastic surgeon offers fat transfer despite its more natural and longer-lasting effects compared to conventional fillers. Take note that it entails a steep learning curve to ensure high survival rate of fat grafts.
Conventional fillers, meanwhile, are much easier to perform than fat injection.