As an individual goes through the aging process, loss of volume, wrinkles, and creases occur on the constantly exposed facial skin. This is due from the underlying collagen and elastin fibers that slowly wear out and break down. A facelift is a wonderful procedure to correct lax skin. For some, however, this may not be condusive to their lifestyle. Fat transfer, also known as autologous fat transplantation or micro-lipoinjection, is an extremely popular alternative for patients wishing to re-contour, smooth and eliminate hollow facial features. An attractive feature for patients is the fact that they are not using a synthetic material but actually their own natural tissue, to recontour different planes of the face. Also, the fear of rejection is not applicable here because the material is biocompacible.
Fat transfer procedures can be done in a hospital setting under general anesthesia, but most commonly are performed in our office with local anesthesia and an oral sedative. A donor site is selected by the doctor and the patient and the tightly packed fat is then extracted through a liposuction technique. Once extracted, the harvested fat is spun down to remove excess fluid. A small needle is then used to redeposit the fat into the desired locations. The re-injecting of harvested fat can be done multiple times in order to yield the desired result and once achieved, it can last many years.
The face is a very vascular part of the body, therefore, recovery after fat transfer can encompass mild to moderate to severe bruising, depending on the individual. Swelling is also common with this procedure. Surprisingly, little or no pain is involved post operatively and patients will typically allow a week for bruising and swelling to diminish. Complete recovery can take up to four weeks.