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Facial Fat Transfer

What is a facial fat transfer?

A facial fat transfer (which is also sometimes referred to as an autologous fat transfer) is a procedure that takes fat from one area of the body (for instance, the hips, buttocks, or abdomen) and moves it to another area of the body to aid in contouring.

What areas of the body does facial fat transfer treat?

Facial fat transfers take fat from a wide variety of areas of the body, including arms, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen, and transfer it to areas of the face that have become sunken with age, to fill scars or other facial hollows, and to plump up specific areas of the face, such as cheekbones or lips.

What are the advantages of facial fat transfer over other similar treatments?

Facial fat transfer uses your own fat, which eliminates the immune response problems that can arise when other types of implants, including fat from other sources, is used for sculpting procedures. Because the fat being used is from the recipient’s own body, the chances of problems arising as a result of the fat graft are minimal. Fat transfer also often appears more natural and softer than other types of implants.

Who is a candidate for facial fat transfer?

Generally, a facial fat transfer procedure can be a good choice for nearly any individual with areas that have lost volume due to age, or those with scarring or other facial depressions, as well as those seeking to enhance the contours of the face and lips. While using a person’s own fat eliminates the risks of allergy and rejection associated with other types of implant procedures, if you have high blood pressure, smoke, have a bleeding disorder, or other chronic medical condition, you should discuss these issues with your doctor, as well as disclosing any current medications, during your consultation visit.

How is the facial fat transfer performed?

A facial fat transfer is performed in three steps. In the first step, the fat is removed from the donor site using a special hypodermic or, in some instances, a very thin cannula (or tube) to reduce the risk of damaging fat cells. Next, the fat cells are cleaned and any extraneous material removed during the extraction process is removed. In the third step of the procedures, the clean fat cells are re-injected into the areas of the face being treated. The entire procedure is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting, and usually takes less than an hour.

What is the recovery like?

Initially, you may experience some slight bruising or swelling of the injection areas, which usually dissipates within a few days. In most cases, any residual discomfort can be successfully managed with pain medication available at your local pharmacy. Most individuals return to work within a day or two of the procedure.

What will the results be like?

Once initial swelling subsides, the results of your facial fat transfer will be immediately apparent, and the results will generally last much longer than those of other contouring procedures, usually for several years.

What are the risks?

When using your own fat, the risks of facial fat transfer are minimal. Like any surgery, there are some risks associated with the procedure, including the possibility of infection. Your clinician will thoroughly discuss these risks with you prior to the procedure.

Is facial fat transfer approved for use in the U.S.?

Yes, the facial fat transfer process has been approved for use in the United States.

Is facial fat transfer covered by insurance companies?

Unless it is used to treat or repair the result of trauma or injury, facial fat transfer procedures are generally not covered by major medical insurance companies. Even when used to treat scarring and other signs of injury, the procedure may not be covered. Be sure to ask your insurance company representative about your level of coverage.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: February 26, 2010

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