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The future of facial augmentation: A closer look at fat grafting and transfer techniques in facial plastic surgery

fat grafting in facial plastic surgery

Implants have always reigned as the leading option in the field of plastic surgery for augmenting the face. Facial implants involve skillfully placing a permanent medical device within the face to sculpt and fashion a patient's features. There are many options for those interested in these procedures, from jaw implants to cheek implants – and now there is an alternative that uses your own tissue.

Recent advancements in fat grafting technology created a notable surge in the popularity of using these procedures that create results without facial implants or medical devices. This process uses the patient's own tissue to sculpt and build the features that they are dreaming of rather than a permanent implant.

If you're curious about the world of fat grafting in facial augmentation and interested in learning more, we're happy to help. We reached out to Deirdre Rhoad, MD, and Josef Hadeed, MD, for their insight on these procedures, thoughts about the future of the field and insider tips on how to make the most of your facial augmentation procedure.

The basics of fat grafting in facial augmentation

It's important to start by understanding the whole process of fat graphing in facial augmentation.

"Simply put, fat grafting is taking fat from one area of the body and utilizing it to add more volume to another area of the body in order to improve volume, shape and contour," said Hadeed.

The fat is gathered and grafted through various techniques, depending on the method the surgeon favors. Many surgeons prefer the use of liposuction to harvest the fat needed for any given procedure. The fat is often gathered from areas where it is difficult to lose, even with weight loss, such as the abdomen, flanks or thighs. Once gathered, the fat is then prepared to be relocated in the body.

"In most instances, after the fat is harvested, it is then separated from the rest of the fluids, which are removed from the patient, purified and then reinjected back into the patient," said Hadeed.

While fat grafting can be utilized in a variety of locations around the body to increase volume, there are several areas of the face that are more frequently addressed than others.

"Typically, the most common areas on the face where plastic surgeons utilize fat grafting are the cheeks, the area underneath the eyes, lips and temples," said Hadeed.

The future of fat grafting in facial augmentation

Since the practice of fat grafting is so rapidly becoming popular, plastic surgeons are seeing a greater shift in focus towards improvements and refinements surrounding the process. From new techniques to innovations and technologies, there are many things to be excited about coming soon.

One such improvement lies in how fat is prepared to be reinjected into the patient.

"The most recent advances include separating the fat into even smaller particles, which are softer and more granular, which leads to a smoother and more natural appearance," said Hadeed.

Another exciting advancement within this field is the introduction of nano-fat grafting.

"Nano-fat grafting is a new technique that is often spoken about in recent years," said Rhoad. "It involves the emulsification of fat into a solution of stem cells and growth factors. It is said to improve skin quality without increasing volume."

Getting the most out of facial augmentation

It almost goes without saying that the results of any plastic surgery procedure can depend on what you do before, during and after the procedure. Here are some key methods to make the most of the procedure and maximize your results.

Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon

One of the first steps toward a successful facial augmentation procedure involves finding the right surgeon to get the job done. Take a close look at the surgeons you are considering and ensure they are board certified and experienced in this area before you book your surgery. This will ensure that you are in the best possible hands and are set up for success from the start.

Follow your surgeon's postop instructions to the letter

It may be tempting to pick and choose which postop instructions you'll follow from the endless list that your surgeon provides, but it's crucial to remember that it's in your best interest to comply with all of their directions to achieve the best possible results.

"It is most important to follow the specific protocols that your plastic surgeon provides for you," said Hadeed.

Avoid any pressure

As with any surgery, the recovery portion plays a crucial role in the quality of your results. In addition to general rest and relaxation, keep the areas where fat has been injected well-protected.

"In general, it is important to avoid direct pressure to the areas where the fat has been injected for at least six weeks," said Hadeed, adding that this is an important part of recovery required for the fat to maintain the desired shape.

Be in it for the long term

One of the unique aspects of fat grafting and facial augmentation is that it will take several months for the true results to settle in and lasting volume to form.

"The lasting volume of fat grafting and facial augmentation with implants will differ after six months," said Rhoad. "The average volume of fat that survives after fat grafting is 50 percent."

If you don't love your results right after your procedure, give the recovery process the full time before you decide to return for another procedure.

Maintain a steady weight

If you're in the process of losing weight or considering a lifestyle change, it might be worth it to reconsider when you are having your fat grafting procedure.

"The patient should not try to lose weight after the fat grafting procedure as this could jeopardize the success of the graft 'taking' or being integrated into the recipient area," said Rhoad.

In other words, drastic weight loss can hamper your recovery and overall success following a fat grafting procedure.

The future of facial augmentation is here

For those who are considering facial augmentation to adjust their features but are not keen on permanent implants, fat grafting might be a great alternative to consider. This process uses the body's own tissues to sculpt their desired features with permanent results and no need for devices or implants.

Ranging from lip augmentation to jawline sculpting to adding cheek volume, so much can be accomplished with fat grafting in facial augmentation.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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