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Facial Fat Transfer

Fat transplantation is a relative newcomer to the field of plastic surgery, but the concept dates back to the late 1800s, when fat grafts were used to correct soft tissue defects and treat conditions including breast defects and hemifacial atrophy.

When liposuction became vogue in the 1980s, fat transplantation also found its place in treating a variety of facial deficits. Today, fat transfer is used to address a wide array of problems, including facial scarring, facial rhytids (sagging skin), and lip augmentation, as well as to treat difficult areas such as the glabellar furrows and nasolabial folds (the folds from the corners of your mouth to your nose).

As we age, some of us feel the face is the place to concentrate on looking younger since that’s what the world sees. Clearly, the face says a lot about one’s image, and liking what you see in the mirror can go a long way toward building self-esteem. With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to correct facial issues utilizing the facial fat transfer procedure: it’s a minimally invasive and straightforward way to plump up facial features and gain back a youthful appearance. This is a safe, well tolerated, long-lasting procedure that provides wonderfully natural-looking results.

What Is Fat Grafting?

Facial fat transfer goes by many names—microlipoinjection, facial fat rejuvenation, autologous fat grafting or transfer, fat transfer, free fat transfer, and fat injections—but remains a process of basically removing fat from one part of the body and moving it in another part. The fat can go many places, including the nasolabial folds (laugh lines), cheeks, lips, marionette lines (lines beside the mouth), and under the eyes. What better filler for your body other than your own fat? You already have it, it feels completely natural, and you won’t experience any immune problems. Bonus: If you decide on a liposuction procedure you can use harvested fat from that!

The body absorbs fat to some degree, of course, but over the years the procedure has been honed and perfected, and today we are seeing excellent, lasting results. Many factors can affect absorption, including how the fat is treated and concentrated, how the doctor removes it, how much you have injected and where, and how quickly your body heals. Dr. Rotemberg is always working to improve existing procedures and discover new techniques for facial fat transfer procedures.

Candidates for Facial Fat Transfer

If you’re looking to minimize the appearance of laugh and frown lines, facial depressions, and wrinkles, you’re likely a good candidate for the procedure. If you have been diagnosed with lipoatrophy (loss of fat layer in the face that forms cheek and jaw contours), this could present a way to refill the hollow areas, which can take years off your face. Dr. Rotemberg has also utilized the procedure to fill out thin, wrinkled hands.

A note: If you’re choosing this procedure, it’s important that you are in good health and emotionally stable enough to have a cosmetic surgery procedure.

Reasons to Consider

You should consider this procedure if you have creased and/or sunken facial areas, if you want to improve your body contour and fill depressions, and—especially—if you are looking for longer-lasting correction that you can get from temporary fillers.

Although fat grafting is done on all body areas, the most common include the forehead, temples, under the eyes, jaw line, cheeks chin, lips, tear troughs under the eyes, and the area just above the nose and in-between the brows. Fat grafting can also help minimize facial scars and correct damage from acne. This simple procedure can augment all of those areas in a natural way, as long as the graft site has enough blood circulation to enable the injected fat cells to form their own blood supply.

Consider this: The areas to which the fat is transferred should appear fuller and softer and make you appear refreshed and rejuvenated. You may even see a skin-texture improvement.

The Procedure

Here’s how it works: Dr. Rotemberg collects a few ounces of fat from your abdomen for example. Since the fat that is removed has to be treated to get rid of blood and other fluids, she spins it in a centrifuge and places the remainder stem-cell-rich fat in the needle. Next, she utilizes an instrument called a micro-cannula to artistically inject it into the areas that need it the most. Think liposuction in reverse! Then the stem-cells grow in this new area and become apart of the tissue in this new location.

It is pretty amazing.

There are two “sites” in a fat transfer procedure, donor and treatment. The donor site is where the fat is taken from and the treatment is where it is going. Typically, patients do well on an oral sedative and injections of epinephrine, sterile saline, and lidocaine. If you’re undergoing liposuction, Dr. Rotemberg will administer intravenous sedation. Popular sites for fat removal (the area will be treated with a local anesthetic) include the abdomen or buttocks.

Recovery time takes about two hours after the completion of the procedure, during which time Dr. Rotemberg’s professional, caring staff will monitor you. You shouldn’t have too much pain or discomfort, although both the donor and treatment site will likely be very tender. If by some chance you experience a high degree of pain, call the office immediately.

Preparation

Each patient receives an information packet detailing how to prepare for the procedure. It may include a list of medication you should and shouldn’t take before the procedure (usually anything containing ibuprofen or aspirin), so make sure you alert Dr. Rotemberg about all medications you take, including vitamins and homeopathic remedies. In addition, you will be asked to complete blood tests prior to the procedure.

Recovery

Most patients report that they are back to work within a week, but sometimes the procedure can require up to two weeks of rest. Strenuous activities should be taken off the books for a couple of weeks, and patients should closely follow Dr. Rotemberg’s post-treatment instructions. Steer clear of cosmetics for a couple of days and try as hard as you can to immobilize the treated area. The more stable you keep it, the better chance the fat cells can reimplant. Patients will only need to follow up with Dr. Rotemberg 6-8 weeks after treatment, but Dr. Rotemberg is known for her personalized care, and will continue to check on you during this entire time period.

How Long Will My Results Last?

The amount of fat that can be absorbed back into the body after this procedure is anywhere from 10-90%. Some patients might need more than one treatment, but typical results of fat grafting can last from 3 months to 3 years, depending on the individual. If the injected fat establishes a new blood supply and receives the nourishment it needs for survival, it’s possible the results will be permanent! Dr. Rotemberg is an experienced, skilled surgeon with outstanding skills in fat grafting, ensuring that the fat survives and the results are long lasting.

To help improve the results and make them last longer, do not smoke, wear sunblock, exercise regularly, stay well-hydrated, get enough sleep, and avoid processed foods and eat a healthy diet.

Risks

It is very rare that complication arise from a facial fat transfer procedure. Since it does not require general anesthesia and is minimally invasive, it is not considered surgical, and is performed as an outpatient procedure.

Consult with Dr. Rotemberg

If you think fat grafting is for you, make an appointment with Dr. Rotemberg at 305-669-0184 to schedule your consultation to talk about the technique and what results you’d like to see. Please be ready to discuss your personal medical history, including past surgeries, chronic conditions, and any major illnesses you’ve experienced. Prepare your questions so that you can make an informed decision and find the information you need. Dr. Rotemberg will discuss all of your options with you collaborate to come up with a plan that meets your needs. She will carefully review everything that will take place and address any of your concerns. Dr. Rotemberg will work with you on your aesthetic goals, discuss any risks regarding the procedure, and what you can expect as far as recovery, as well as provide an estimate of the cost. Dr. Silvia Rotemberg, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

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