Fat grafting is a technique where the harvested adipose tissue is injected into various compartments underneath the skin. The term autologous fat grafting refers to the procedure where the source of fat is the same person on whom it is to be used. In facial fat grafting, fat is moved to the face from another part of the body. The procedure may also be called fat transfer, micro-lipoinjection, facial fat rejuvenation, autologous fat grafting or transfer, or fat injection.
It offers a more youthful appearance and can also correct problems like scars. It is commonly used in the lips, the folds that go from the corners of the mouth to the nose, the under-eye areas, and the cheeks. Facial fat grafting is commonly performed at the same time as other facial-rejuvenating procedures such as a facelift or an eye lift. The facial fat grafting procedure includes three steps:
- Fat harvesting: Fat is removed from another site on the body with a needle.
- Fat processing: The fat is then cleaned so that only whole, undamaged fat cells are used.
- Fat transfer: The fat cells are injected into the targeted areas.
Benefits of face fat grafting
Own fat transplantation has a number of advantages compared to other methods of volume correction.
- The absence of allergic reactions: Only the patient’s own cells are used for lipofilling, they are not considered by his immune system as harmful agents. Due to this, there is no likelihood of postoperative rejection or contracture, as is the case with implants.
- There is no need for general anesthesia.
- The naturalness of the effect: Correctly processed fat is evenly distributed and does not create contouring even under a thin skin.
- Low invasiveness: Just a few hours after transplantation, the patient can go home. The number of constraints in the healing period is very less and limited.
The procedure for fat grafting surgery
Lipofilling begins with a face-to-face consultation, at which the plastic surgeon conducts a general assessment of the patient’s body condition determines the “donor” zones and recipient zones, the amount of fat necessary for transplantation, etc. The following are the main steps.
a. Intake of fat cells
It is carried out through thin punctures with the help of special cannulas. The procedure is very convenient to combine with liposuction, but you can do without it, especially when it comes to lipofilling of the face, for which you need only a few tens of milliliters of fat. The obtained cells are purified from impurities and processed to obtain a homogeneous emulsion suitable for transplantation (without lumps and seals).
Sometimes at this stage, the biomaterial is additionally enriched with the patient’s blood plasma or stem cells. The treated emulsion is injected into the target areas on the face and/or body of the patient. This part of the procedure is not much different from conventional contouring, except that the syringes will be slightly larger.
b. Postoperative period
Full rehabilitation takes up to 2-3 weeks. There are no serious restrictions at this time, it will only be necessary to be careful in the first couple of days from exposure to high temperatures, including excluding hot baths, baths, and sun exposure, as well as limited physical activity for the entire recovery period. The overall effect of the procedure will be noticeable immediately after its completion.
But, it is not considered 100% indicative: firstly, due to the imposition of inevitable edema, and secondly, because part of the transplanted fat will be removed from the body (it is believed that if at least half is preserved, that’s already good). Evaluation of changes is possible only after 3-6 months, when the fat cells finally take root, and their lost amount will be replenished with corrective injections.