Fat is beautiful!!! In today's exercise and diet-conscious world, this statement probably makes most people cringe. However, to plastic surgeons, fat is beautiful! While today's media buzz focuses on fat use for breast and buttocks enhancement, fat is a tool that has been used for years to restore youthful, full cheeks, smooth jaw lines, brighten eyes, and restore plump, fuller lips. It's possible to revitalize a tired face using one's own fat.
But why fat? The answer is that most of us have extra fat somewhere like love handles, saddle bags, inner thighs, and the back of the arms, to name a few. While most fillers come in one cc increments, fat transfer generally involves 80-120cc of volume for facial rejuvenation. As a result, fat becomes a cost-effective means of restoring youthful volume to the desired body area.
Fat transfer has not always been successful. Twenty years ago, fat transfer was very unpredictable. Doctors would tell patients that they would require four to five treatments with little long-term benefit. Over the years, research began to shed light on new techniques which have resulted in much more consistent results. Today, the majority of patients will retain most of the transplanted fat. No filler (fat or otherwise) is ever 100 percent effective, however the improved consistency of fat has resulted in it becoming one of the most popular fillers used throughout both the face and body.
Patients often ask if they should eat more before undergoing fat transfer in order to increase the number of fat cells for harvest. The answer is a resounding "NO!" As adults we do not "grow" more fat cells if we weigh more. Fat cells increase in size when we are heavier, and decrease in size when we lose weight. If a patient's weight fluctuates, I will generally harvest fat from the outer thigh area as the fat cells in the saddle bag and tummy areas seem to change more with shifts in weight.
Depending on the areas to be filled, the fat transfer procedure can be performed under a twilight or general anesthesia. When I perform fat transfer, the process generally takes less than ten minutes. First the fat is collected and then the intact fat cells are isolated. These fat cells are then placed in the desired areas. We recommend that patients lightly cool the transplanted fat areas during the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and bruising. Because the fat cells need to reconnect to the surrounding tissue to survive, resting the enhanced areas by limiting movement may help to increase the success of the procedure. Most patients do not have much discomfort following fat transfer.
Fat transfer techniques can vary from doctor to doctor. In our practice, I do not over-correct (use a greater quantity of fat than needed in case a percentage does not "take"). My approach is based on the fact that if 100% of the fat cells survive the transfer, a second procedure would be required in order to eliminate the excess. I prefer to fill the targeted area to the optimal level. Results are evaluated three to six months after the procedure. If some settling occurs, patients may elect to "top off" the area with a filler such as Juvaderm. If a patient began with significant volume loss, I will often recommend that he/she would benefit by having a second fat transfer procedure three to six months after the initial one.
Fat is beautiful, it has become a mainstay filler for achieving a more youthful look- especially when a large volume of filler is needed for optimum results.
Brian Maloney, M.D., F.A.C.S.
The Maloney Center for Facial Plastic Surgery
www.MaloneyCenter.com | (770) 804-0007
Dr. Maloney is an award-winning, double board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He is a National Trainer for Allergan. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Maloney's artistry and specialized approach has resulted in regular features on MSNBC.com, ABC News, Discovery Health, TLC, and CNN Headline News. He can be reached at (770) 804-0007 or online at www.MaloneyCenter.com.