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Fat Transfer to the Face

Autologous Fat Transfer to the face refers to the method of processing and purifying fat for use as an injectable filler. Once the fat is processed and re-injected to the face, it may help restore lost facial volume (atrophy). It can also alter skin tone and skin texture. It can also be used in your hands. The fat liposuction and re-injection process is complete during a single session of approximately 90 minutes. The surgeon will perform the fat processing technique on-site at the time of extraction.

Why consider Fat Transfer to the Face?

Help restore facial volume

Address Tear Troughs

Address Marionette Lines

Address nasolabial folds

How is the fat collected?

The fat used in the injection procedures is collected using a small tumescent liposuction system.

This means that during the liposuction process, the surgeon will inject a formulation consisting of; saline, local anaesthetic and adrenaline into the extraction area to limit discomfort, swelling or bleeding. This technique also helps to separate the skin from the fat that lies below it. This limits any damage to the tissue during the liposuction process.

The tumescent liposuction technique involves the use of cannula that are much smaller than the ones used in conventional liposuction.

  • A cannula is a blunt needle that has holes on the side of it rather than at the end like a standard needle.
  • All forms of liposuction create some bruising and swelling. However, the area it affects is usually small, as is the volume of fat the surgeon removes.
  • The liposuction site usually recovers within a few weeks.
  • There is no need for any stitches.

The volume of fat taken from an area like hip will vary depending on the volume of fluid required for the treatment area. For facial rejuvenation, this amount is usually between 50-80 ml.

How is fat processed?

  • Before your surgeon re-injects the fluid they have taken from your body they process it.  The technical terminology for fat transfer is ‘autologous fat grafting.’
  • Not all of the fat the surgeon injects will ‘take’, repeat procedures are often necessary.
  • At times, you may also find it more practical to use a traditional volumiser (such as a high-quality temporary-filler-solution based injectable product).

Fat Graft survival rates

This procedure has been proven to improve the quality of surrounding tissue as well as the general appearance of the overlying skin, by replacing lost volume. However, fat graft survival rates can be in the 30% to 80% range. This can mean that patients will need multiple procedures (whilst fat grafting can help you get a great result, it is variable and sometimes a temporary-filler-solution based injectable can get you the look you want in less time and at less cost).

Is there any downtime with Face Fat Transfer and what results will I get?

The surgeon will perform the re-injection via cannula.

You can expect to feel some pain, tenderness and bruising in the extraction area for a few days. Bruising in the re-injection sites is less common, but can occur due to a cannula not being as fine or sharp as a regular needle.

Fat Transfer methods offer volume enhancement to areas like the mid face and under the eyes, while also offering greatly improved tone, elasticity and vitality to the overlying skin.

Fat tissue that is re-injected doesn’t have its own blood supply. Therefore it needs to be placed near blood vessels to ensure the survival of the fat cells. It is particularly suited for facial rejuvenation as it’s injected superficially into tissue that is rich in vessels.

You may need several treatments to get the desired effects. Fat transfer methods can be a way to reduce scarring or to fill facial lines (other methods are also available).

Areas particularly suited to Autologous Fat Transfer (Fat Grafting) Rejuvenation include:

  • Tear Troughs
  • Midface
  • Nasolabial folds
  • Lips and around the mouth
  • The backs of hands

Risks and Complications of Autologous Fat Transfer

Fat Transfer like any procedure has potential risks and complications. Your Surgeon will make you aware of potential complications during your consultation, including:

  • Fat Resorption: One of the primary concerns is the resorption (reabsorption) of the transferred fat by the body. Not all of the injected fat may survive, and some volume loss can occur in the months following the procedure.
  • Infection: Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection. While infections are relatively rare, they can occur. It’s essential to maintain good post-operative hygiene and follow your surgeon’s instructions.
  • Asymmetry: Achieving perfect symmetry can be challenging, and slight variations in fat absorption may lead to uneven results.
  • Numbness or Altered Sensation: Temporary numbness or altered sensation in the treated areas is possible and usually resolves as healing progresses.
  • Anesthesia Risks: If general anesthesia is used, there are inherent risks associated with anesthesia, including allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, and adverse reactions to anesthesia medications.

To reduce these risks, ensure you choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with expertise in fat transfer procedures and follow their pre and post-operative instructions diligently.

Learn more about risks and complication

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843 Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266 Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799 Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964 Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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