About Facial Aging

Aging of the face is commonly caused by three elements: laxity of skin tissues caused by gravity, skin changes (e.g., wrinkles and pigmentation issues caused by age and sun exposure), as well as the loss of facial volume that once created youthful curves in the face. That loss of volume hastens the look of aging and can prematurely date a person. Hollow areas frequently develop beneath the eyes, below the cheekbones, and around the mouth. Hollowing can also occur along the jawline, in the temples, brow, and forehead.

Fat Transfer Before & After

*Each patient is unique, and individual results may vary.

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What Is Fat Transfer?

To correct a fatigued and often emaciated or harsh look, a plastic surgeon trained in facial aesthetics works to restore youth to the face. The face can appear dramatically younger by restoring volume to the under-eye area, treating local wrinkles, creating a soft transition between the lower eyelid and the full heart-shaped cheek region, and filling in the deep grooves around the mouth. Surgeons at the Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery in Austin, Texas, perform facial fat transfers to help patients appear more youthful. Fat transfer for the face involves harvesting fat from one part of the body and injecting it into facial areas to enhance volume and restore a youthful appearance.

How Is Facial Fat Transfer Performed?

Areas of the body for fat harvesting may be marked out. The patient is then provided a combination of a local anesthetic and sedation (i.e., oral or light IV sedation). In cases of full facial fat transfer, it may be more advantageous to use IV sedation to ensure optimal fat removal and operative comfort. Sometimes referred to as microlipoinjection, autologous fat grafting, or fat injections, the procedure begins with lipoharvesting to areas of excess fat on the patient’s body. This process is performed through the use of a cannula, requiring only minimal incisions to access the tissue. While male and female bodies store bulk differently, the doctor can typically harvest this adipose tissue from the patient’s abdomen or hips.

After harvesting the fat, the surgeon prepares it for implantation. This preparation method may include rinsing the harvested material and then using centrifugation to separate the weak fat cells from the stronger ones. At the Buckingham Center, surgeons use the more sophisticated Puregraft filter system by Cytori. The Puregraft filter allows more reliable filtering of the unwanted components of the harvested fat. The doctor will then use a smaller cannula to administer the fat to the patient’s facial areas in need.

Facial fat transfer is performed on an outpatient basis. However, patients will not be able to drive themselves home to recover from the procedure; a family member or friend can aid with this. Before the procedure, the doctor will provide any necessary prescriptions that can be filled before the surgery, and patients are encouraged to set up a comfortable recovery area. Pre-made meals, clean and comfortable bedding, as well as activities to cure boredom can all be set up before a patient undergoes the procedure.

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Advantages Of Autologous Facial Fat Transfer

There are a number of reasons and benefits of fat transfer that make patients choose to utilize their own fat for facial rejuvenation. Dermal fillers and implants may be options for certain patients, while others have sensitivities or allergies to the synthetic materials. Because the body recognizes its own tissues, there is no chance that it will reject the fat. In addition to the increased measure of safety, autologous fat contains growth factors, which can affect the growth factor of the surrounding area, contributing to healthier and more youthful tissue growth.

While further processing of fat can isolate adipocyte-derived growth factors, studies have not shown this to be superior to fat transfer utilizing the fat cell mixed with the growth factors. The growth factors that are already suspended in the fat mixture are reintroduced under the skin of the face without the added special treatment.

Because fat is a naturally existing tissue, it can create a natural texture and look that does not interfere with the patient’s facial movements. Improperly placed implants, or implants that are too large, can interfere with the patient’s ability to move their face.

Following the transfer, the fat does not move or shift because it becomes incorporated as living tissue. It may also provide longevity of results, sometimes providing long-lasting volume restoration. Because the fat is injected into the skin, there are no facial incisions and only minimal surgical cuts to allow the small cannula (hollow blunt tube the size of the end of a pen) to suction fat from the body. While fat transfer can provide outstanding youthful, natural results, it does carry the downside that there can be variable survival of the grafted cells, and the results can be suboptimal. In addition, patients may experience a week or two of significant swelling, which limits an individual’s ability to return to social activity.

Combination Procedures

The face ages due to gravity, skin changes, and volume loss; if a patient’s main concern is the overall aging of the face, a facial fat transfer can be performed alongside a facelift, a blepharoplasty, and skin resurfacing. Our surgeons have found that in areas with a loss of volume and wrinkles, fat injections can address both issues.

However, when the patient seeks to fill existing lines but is not concerned about re-plumping the general area of the face, dermal injections may be a better solution. JUVÉDERM and Restylane can fill grooves in the skin, and BOTOX (which is not a filler but a neurotoxin) can prevent the lines from forming while the face is at rest and during minimized facial movements.

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Recovery From Facial Fat Transfer

Patients can return home after the surgery for post-surgical care. There may be some noticeable bruising and swelling, but there is no need for post-operative dressings or drains. In most cases, the patient can return to social activities 2–3 weeks after the procedure, depending on how much is performed. Strenuous activity can begin after two weeks, with full activity at three weeks. It takes three months to determine how much of the fat that was grafted will survive or take. If necessary, additional fat or facial fillers can be added in the future.

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The Consultation – Determining Candidates For Facial Fat Transfer

To determine if an individual is a suitable candidate for facial fat transfer, the potential patient needs to schedule a consultation with one of our surgeons. This initial consultation allows the patient to meet the staff, form a patient-doctor relationship, and hopefully begin the transformation process.

During this appointment, the surgeon determines if a prospective patient’s aesthetic desires can be accomplished with just facial fat or if additional treatments are necessary to reach the individual’s goals. The surgeon will also determine which harvest sites should be utilized during the fat removal process. During this initial meeting, the patient has the opportunity to express any concerns and ask questions they have about the procedure. The surgeon assesses the patient’s overall health, paying special attention to any chronic health issues and current medications. The surgeon may also inquire about previous procedures the patient has undergone for both health and cosmetic purposes. Men and women are equally eligible for a facial fat transfer procedure. Our surgeons create treatment plans to retain feminine and masculine characteristics as desired.

The results of the procedure will be discussed, and any patients that our surgeons take on should have a good understanding of the facial fat transfer process and have realistic expectations for the changes it can provide. If it is determined that fat injections are not the ideal approach, the doctor may suggest alternate options, of which there are many. Commonly, healthy patients with aged faces that appear drawn or hollow, especially under the eyes and in the cheeks, may be good candidates for autologous fat transfer. The aged lower eyelid can create a sharp line of demarcation between the lower eyelid and cheek, referred to as a tear trough. Those seeking to restore volume and vitality to the face may find that this procedure addresses most or all of their cosmetic concerns. The surgeon may decide to follow up with tissue scans or request lab work and tests to maximize patient safety during this procedure.

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Why Choose The Buckingham Center For Facial Plastic Surgery?

The Buckingham Center proudly offers a comprehensive experience featuring a 24/7 facial plastic surgeon and over two decades of expertise in Austin. Within our accredited surgical facility, we ensure a top-tier journey. As Austin's leading facial specialists, our science-based approach guarantees scientifically proven results. We prioritize your safety with the highest care standards while fostering lasting patient relationships. From your initial consultation to the day you celebrate your rejuvenated look, our dedicated and compassionate team creates an inviting and cheerful atmosphere throughout your entire journey.

Facial Fat Transfer FAQ

What Is Facial Fat Transfer?

Who Is The Best Candidate For Facial Fat Transfer?

Are There Any Limitations To What Facial Fat Transfer Can Achieve?

How Is The Actual Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Performed?

How Long Does The Actual Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Last?

Is The Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Painful?

How Long Do The Results Of Facial Fat Transfer Last?

Where Is The Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Performed?

What Is The Recovery Like After Facial Fat Transfer?

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used For Facial Fat Transfer?

How Much Time Will I Need To Take Off From Work After Undergoing Facial Fat Transfer?

What Is Facial Fat Transfer?

Facial fat transfer is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that addresses facial sagging and wrinkled skin. Fat injections specifically address regions of the face that have lost their natural fullness. Adipose tissue is removed from a fattier part of the body (e.g., the hip or abdomen) with a minor liposuction procedure and then strategically injected into different areas of the face to address aging areas of the face.

Who Is The Best Candidate For Facial Fat Transfer?

Candidates for facial fat transfer are in good physical health and have realistic expectations for improving a maturing facial appearance. A consultation with one of our surgeons allows prospective patients to determine if facial fat transfer is the ideal cosmetic solution for their needs.

Are There Any Limitations To What Facial Fat Transfer Can Achieve?

This form of fat grafting is limited in its ability to rejuvenate the lines around the mouth. These may need to be addressed using fillers or skin resurfacing techniques (e.g., a BBL Peel, Photofacial or IPL treatment).

How Is The Actual Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Performed?

The harvesting and recipient sites are cleansed. The surgeon uses suction to remove. The fat may be treated and is then introduced to areas of the face through a mini cannula. It is usually necessary for the treated areas to be slightly overfilled to allow for fat absorption in the weeks following the procedure. These excess fat cells may cause the face to appear temporarily swollen.

How Long Does The Actual Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Last?

In many cases, the procedure will be completed within an hour. If a patient opts to combine treatments, they can expect the procedure to take longer. The procedure is completed at an outpatient facility.

Is The Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Painful?

Side effects are usually very mild with fat grafting procedures, but patients may feel some pain in the areas of fat removal, as well as discomfort in the face, as it must be overfilled to produce optimal results. Your surgeon provides post-surgical instructions as well as prescription-strength medications to ensure you remain comfortable following your fat transfer.

How Long Do The Results Of Facial Fat Transfer Last?

At Buckingham Center, results achieved with facial fat transfer can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years because the face will continue to age, which means the factors that lead to the appearance of volume loss continue. Since facial fat transfer can erase 10 to 15 years from one’s appearance, even as fat transfer patients age, they may still appear younger than their peers.

Where Is The Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Performed?

The facial fat transfer procedure is often performed at an outpatient facility.

What Is The Recovery Like After Facial Fat Transfer?

No post-operative dressings or drains need to be applied. Overfilling, however, is often necessary, and for this reason, the face may temporarily appear puffed or swollen. Minor swelling, bruising, or redness may also occur.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used For Facial Fat Transfer?

Our surgeons perform the facial fat transfer procedure with light IV sedation.

How Much Time Will I Need To Take Off From Work After Undergoing Facial Fat Transfer?

While there are no facial incisions involved in fat transfer, swelling does limit the return to social activities for a week or two. Most patients will take 7 to 14 days off work.

Schedule A Consultation

The first step to undergoing a facial makeover is to schedule a consultation with one of the surgeons at Buckingham Center in Austin, Texas. Contact the Buckingham Center by email through our Patient Contact Form or by phone at 512-401-2500.

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