Despite all of our best efforts, faces start to look droopy and deflated with age. Some of this is genetics, but most of it is the result of time. Adding volume and correcting skin laxity therefore makes sense, but how can you know which technique is the best for you? At Plastic Surgery Specialists of South Florida in Hollywood, FL, we recommend fat grafting, a treatment that uses fat from your own body to improve your appearance in multiple ways.
Are Fat Grafting Results Permanent? 12 Things to Know
1. Results Can Be Permanent
While we’re always quick to caution that results may vary, this therapy often provides permanent enhancement. Some patients prefer fat grafting over injectable fillers for this reason. The body absorbs the latter so repeat sessions are necessary to maintain your results; on average, most patients need ongoing treatments every six months to a year.
But with the former, we transfer fat – a living substance – from an area like the thighs, stomach, or buttocks and inject it into your cheeks, lips, or another facial site. The body absorbs some of this fat within the first six weeks of treatment in a very natural way. The fat that survives, however, remains in place just as other living tissues do. Treatment is, therefore, a way to permanently rejuvenate your face without requiring maintenance sessions.
Keeping Your Results
Depending on your aesthetic ideals, you may opt for one or several touch-up sessions to optimize your results. This is because fluctuations in your weight may alter your appearance. As you age, you may also experience additional volume loss.
In addition, some patients choose to combine this therapy with another to achieve more comprehensive results. Those who want to rejuvenate their eyes, for instance, might opt for eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty). Likewise, patients looking to smooth frown lines can elect to have injectable neurotoxins (such as Botox). The point is we can craft a treatment plan that reflects your unique needs.
2. Adds Subtle Volume
Most people envision wrinkles and fine lines when they think of the signs of aging. But a loss of volume is just as prominent. It’s also a major underlying cause of sagging skin, which we’ll describe in just a moment. A loss of volume can accentuate facial bones and hollows in the temples and around the eyes so cheeks look flatter.
We’ve only understood the impact volume has on the face in recent years. While facial contours and definition are largely determined by genetics, which explains why some chins and cheekbones are more prominent than others, skin sagging can start to occur as early as your 30s. This is owed to collagen, a protein largely responsible for the skin’s underlying support. But collagen production slows around age 25 and leaves your face vulnerable to:
- Nasolabial folds
- Marionette lines
- Hollows under the eyes and in the temples
- Deflated cheeks
Replacing Like with Like
A loss of collagen explains why even patients with well-defined contours can and do experience volume loss. Whether the issue is related to aging or facial structure, we can boost volume and restore facial symmetry with fat transfers.
This therapy has, in fact, been described as one of the best techniques for soft tissue augmentation because the results look soft and natural. After all, we’re replacing like tissue with like in a way that really does restore what time takes away – namely, a lifted and sculpted appearance.
3. Helps Correct Sagging Skin
We’ve talked about volume, now it’s time to address another common issue: sagging skin. From that which creates bags under the eyes to folds that appear in the cheeks, sagging can drag down your entire face. It’s largely attributed to gravity, which has a pulling effect on tissues and also causes fat to gradually slide from the upper two-thirds of your face and settle in the jowls. This blurs your natural contours so that even your profile is affected.
A facial fat transfer can be used in place of surgery to correct mild sagging and whisk away wrinkles. The result is an overall youthful appearance that is both softer and smoother. It can also provide a more prominent chin to sharpen the edges of your face.
4. Plumps Your Pout
Consistent and long-lasting results are just two of the benefits attached to lip augmentation with a fat transfer. This popular technique is also proven to effectively:
- Boost volume for patients who feel their lips are loose, drooping, underdeveloped, flat, thin, or small
- Perfect lip shape
- Define the lip border and erase wrinkles that have developed in tissues
- Improve lip definition
- Correct asymmetry
- Deliver a smoother and fuller appearance
We understand the lips are delicate and need to be treated with care. Fat grafting is ideal for these tissues because it deters them from overfilling. In addition, we strive to plump both the top and bottom lips while keeping them proportionate with the rest of your face. You’ll therefore enjoy subtle but sexy results.
5. Has a Long Safety Profile
Fat grafting can be traced back to 1893 when it was first used to fill a depressed facial scar. From that time to the 1980s, the treatment was used only sparingly. This changed in 1987 when fat transfers became popular for augmenting breasts. Since then, this therapy has continued to gain ground as a viable cosmetic treatment. It’s been proven to:
- Increase volume
- Support regenerative effects on local tissues
- Reverse hyperpigmentation
- Soften scars
- Correct photoaging
- Treat contour deterioration
It’s important to remember we’re using fat from your own body, so you know the technique is safe. You’re at no risk for an allergic reaction, and the body does not reject its own fat. These qualities are especially attractive to patients looking for natural ways – that is, treatments free of chemicals and foreign agents – to restore facial volume and contours.
6. Less Invasive Than a Facelift
We start the treatment by harvesting fat from a donor area with a method that resembles liposuction. The fat is purified to ensure optimal survival of the harvested cells. We then inject the purified fat into the desired treatment spot.
Compared to a facelift, this procedure is relatively minor. It’s a great alternative for patients who don’t want or aren’t able to have surgery for medical reasons. And the incisions we place are tiny, meaning recovery is generally easier and completed in less time than traditional surgeries.
7. Shorter Recovery Period
Although this treatment does indeed require a healing period, the list of guidelines for what to do before and after the procedure is straightforward. For instance, we recommend you wear loose, comfortable clothing to your session with a shirt that buttons or zips. This will be easier to get in and out of, and loose materials won’t rub against your incisions.
You’ll also need someone to drive you to and from treatment, as you’ll not be able to operate a car after anesthesia. And having someone stay with you the first night of surgery is a good idea. That person can help with household chores, like meal preparation, and ensure you get the rest you need. We’ll likely recommend you avoid strenuous or vigorous exercise for several weeks after; your body will need this time to heal both internally and externally.
You’ll also need to stop smoking in the weeks before and after your treatment to avoid scarring and poor wound healing. Tobacco products can impede blood circulation and significantly compromise your results. In addition, we’ll probably advise you to:
- Avoid aspirin, NSAIDs, and supplements that act as blood thinners within the body
- Stay hydrated before and after treatment
- Not rub or massage your incisions
8. Candidacy Is Determined Individually
Before embarking on treatment, we’ll perform an extensive consultation to discuss your treatment expectations, medical history, overall health, and skin health. We’ll also use this time to determine your candidacy, as different treatment combinations have different requirements. In essence, patients should have adequate fat to harvest, realistic aesthetic goals, and be at a stable weight prior to treatment.
9. You Will Enjoy Some Body Contouring
Fat grafting involves some body contouring to help remove a few stubborn bulges or bumps from a particular spot. But this treatment is not ideal for weight loss because we won’t remove enough fat to make a significant difference. What this technique can do is serve as a catalyst for a healthier lifestyle after completing your recovery. Vigorous exercise cannot be immediately resumed, as mentioned earlier, but light exercise is fine.
10. Results Are Customizable
One of the greatest aspects of fat grafting is the level of personalization it affords. You can be involved in choosing where to remove fat, and once we’ve identified the facial areas you want to smooth and plump, we can shape your face is in a very individualized way. For instance, we can inject fat into multiple spots, restore or add contours, and ensure symmetry.
This technique is great for improving the overall aesthetics of your face. The goal, however, is to ensure you still look like yourself. We simply provide a younger, fresher, and crisper appearance.
11. Harvested Fat Contains Stem Cells
Fat grafting is unique in a very beneficial way: fat harvested from your body contains revitalizing stem cells. Once re-injected, these can transform into other cells, depending on what your body needs, to replace and repair surrounding tissues. Therapy can accordingly address common concerns like texture and tone while also helping to produce firmer, thicker skin. In short, we rejuvenate the face from within.
12. Can Be Used When Fillers Become Too Much
It’s no secret that dermal fillers work wonderfully well at the right time when injected in optimal quantities and with no small degree of care. But most patients can only use these treatments for so many years, especially when starting in the late 30s or early 40s. This has less to do with the treatments themselves and more with the way our faces continue to age.
Notably, skin grows laxer over time so the amount of filler that previously worked no longer delivers the desired results. Adding more filler can result in an “overdone” look in which the face looks distorted. This is when fat grafting makes for a great alternative treatment; we can restore facial identity and distinguish between the jawline and cheeks to enhance all of your features.
Killing Two Birds with One Stone
Few treatments allow you to remove fat from one troubling area and inject it into a spot where it’s most needed. This therapy also allows us to personalize your outcomes, address multiple concerns at once, and deliver permanent results. Learn more about fat transfers today by calling the Plastic Surgery Specialists of South Florida in Hollywood, FL.