As people age, the collagen and elastin levels in their skin break down, which affects skin quality and leads to wrinkling and sagging. A dip in hormone levels can also be responsible for changes in the amount and quality of volume in women’s faces.
A technique known as fat transfer has helped numerous patients regain their confidence in the face they are presenting to the world.
What Is Fat Transfer?
Fat transfer procedure is just like it sounds. The technique removes fat from a “donor” area, commonly your thighs, abdomen or buttocks, and injects it into another area of your body to plump it up or fill it in.
Fat transfer can be effective all over the body, but it is most typical to use it to add volume to cheeks, fill hollow lower eyelids and build up areas in the face or mid-chin that have lost volume due to aging. Because the procedure involves injecting your body with its own naturally occurring fat stores, this “all-natural” cosmetic option has seen a skyrocketing increase in popularity in recent years.
As opposed to synthetic dermal fillers or implants, the process involves removing the fat from the donor areas of your body and carefully injecting it into the areas of the face that have lost volume due to aging.
What Results Can I Expect From a Fat Transfer?
Fat transfer results in immediately noticeable results, though most patients will also experience some swelling for up to two weeks after undergoing the procedure.
All patients react differently to the procedure, but it’s not unusual for the results to last for many years. A fat transfer involves your own fat cells, which means it’s biocompatible, so there is minimal risk of an allergic reaction or rejection. Also, a body fat transfer feels and looks more natural than an artificial filler.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Fat Transfer?
Maintaining a healthy body weight through a sensible diet and exercise regimen is the best way to improve your appearance. However, the effects of aging, combined with what your body is genetically predisposed to do as you get older, may slowly erode the positive effects of healthy living.
For example, genetics may cause your body fat to be unevenly distributed, or for your body to have stubborn pockets of body fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. Beginning in their mid- to late-30s, people tend to start losing volume in specific body areas, including the face and hands. For these patients, fat transfers may help them feel more confident in their appearance.
Body fat transfer candidates should be in good overall health, both physically and emotionally, and have realistic expectations about the outcome of the procedure. If you are a smoker, you should stop for several weeks prior to and following your procedure, since smoking can slow the healing process, increase your risk of complications and impact negatively on your final cosmetic result. You must also have adequate fat deposits for the transfer.
If you are considering a fat transfer, your first step should be to contact our Dallas office to schedule a consultation.
What Can I Expect From the Fat Transfer Procedure?
Board-certified cosmetic surgeon Dr. Fadi Constantine performs all body fat transfers in our Dallas surgery center. The outpatient procedure is minimally invasive, and typically takes under two hours. Many patients opt for “twilight sedation,” which combines several medications to leave them numb and sleepy, but still awake. For patients who have chosen to combine fat transfer with other cosmetic surgeries, we may recommend general anesthesia.
There are three basic steps involved in the fat transfer procedure:
- Antiseptic and a topical anesthetic are applied to two areas: the donor site where the fat will be removed, and the treated area where the fat will be injected. The donor site is typically the abdomen or thighs.
- Dr. Constantine harvests the fat cells from the donor site
- Dr. Constantine then must process and purify the fat cells by straining or spinning them before injecting them into the site.
It takes three to four days for the blood supply to reach and begin to supply the newly transplanted fat cells. During this time, as many as 60 percent of the transferred fat cells will die. For this reason, it may take more than one treatment to achieve the best results. Each time the procedure is repeated, more fat accumulates in the treated area. Some patients achieve very long-lasting – even lifetime – results.
Recovering From Fat Transfer
After the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home. You may also need a family member or friend to help you with daily activities during the first day or two following the process. Dr. Constantine and his surgical team will provide you with specific care instructions on how soon you can expect to resume normal daily activities, including showering, as well as how to take care of the treated sites.
For the first 48 hours following your fat transfer, redness, bruising, swelling and scabbing are typical. Oral pain medications can help treat any discomfort. Dr. Constantine can write you a prescription for pain medication, or discuss appropriate over-the-counter medications with you. Avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, which may increase your risk of bleeding.
You should notice a marked improvement in your appearance after the procedure, although the final results may not reveal themselves for several weeks.
What Are the Risks of Body Fat Transfer?
Complications are possible with any medical procedure, but risks with fat transfers are extremely rare. The most common include bruising, swelling, redness, fatty bumps beneath the skin, uneven skin texture, infection or bleeding. You can reduce your overall risk of body fat transfer complications by carefully following all pre- and post-procedure instructions we give you.
Why Choose Dr. Constantine for Your Fat Transfer?
Dr. Constantine is a board-certified Dallas cosmetic surgeon who specializes in advanced aesthetic surgery of the face, nose, breasts and body. Earning and maintaining board certification requires surgeons to undergo rigorous and ongoing surgical education and training.
Dr. Constantine approaches each fat transfer patient with a personalized surgical plan that leads to the best, most natural-looking and longest-lasting results possible. Contact our Dallas office to learn more about getting a fat transfer or any other cosmetic procedure you may be considering.