Facial fat transfer procedure is an already established technique to rejuvenate the aging face. In the past, doctors were only focused on addressing the loose skin and soft tissue laxity without taking into account that facial volume loss (or fat loss) was also contributing to the aged appearance.
But nowadays, skilled plastic surgeons typically combine facial fat transfer procedure and facelift, a combo procedure that accomplishes two goals: tighten the loose skin and restore the lost volume. With this approach, which is also referred to as three-dimensional facelift, patients enjoy more natural and more “stable” results, meaning no surgical stigmata appear years after their surgery.
Leading Inland Empire plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley, who commonly combines facelift and facial fat transfer procedure in one surgical setting, explains some of the most surprising facts about the latter.
- Only a few teaspoons of unwanted fat is needed.
The tummy area is the usual donor site, where a few teaspoons is collected and is later processed and re-injected into the soft tissue of the face. Meanwhile, it is not uncommon practice to slightly over-fill the recipient site since it is expected that about 25-30 percent of the volume will be resorbed by the surrounding tissue; anything that remains 2-3 months postop is expected to be near permanent.
- Facial fat transfer procedure is “cheaper” than dermal fillers in the long run.
The average cost of facial fat transfer is $2,000-$5,000, while dermal fillers are typically priced at $250-$600 per treatment. Despite its higher “upfront” cost, in the long run it is more affordable than the standard fillers because of its near permanent results—i.e., 12-15 years.
Dermal fillers, meanwhile, typically require touch-ups performed at 3-4 months interval should the patient desire to preserve her rejuvenated appearance.
- It can be performed simultaneously with “hand rejuvenation” procedure.
In Dr. Smiley’s previous post on Snapchat, a female patient had fat injection not just to her face but also to her hands (and fingers) to correct their thin and wrinkled appearance.
- All the biomaterials are removed prior to fat injection.
It is important to remove the oil, red blood cells, and other “non-fat” biomaterials to achieve near permanent results and high survival rate of fat grafts. Centrifuge is particularly helpful during the purification method because it separates materials based on their weight.
- Blood vessels need to grow into the grafted fat.
In order for the grafted fat to persist long term, blood vessel ingrowth must occur. Hence, Dr. Smiley highlights the importance of micro-droplet injection in which layers of fat are gradually created (less than 0.1 cc at a time) during surgery.
Without blood vessel ingrowth, which is medically referred to as vascularization, the surrounding tissue will resorb the grafts within months.