The thinning of skin and reduction of facial fat cells is a natural part of the aging process. Over time, skin loses its elasticity and begins to droop and sag as fat cells diminish. While this effect is common over the entire body, the skin that covers the face is among the thinnest, and changes in elasticity and fat deposits are more noticeable in this area as compared to others. Cosmetically, these changes show up in the form of wrinkles and fine lines that are often referred to as crow’s feet or worry lines. It is estimated that 1-5 cc of facial volume reduction is experienced as a natural part of aging each year. The long-term cosmetic effect as it relates to volume reduction is an overall loss of facial definition over time.
To combat the loss of facial fat volume and redefine features, many patients elect to use temporary dermal fillers. While this is a suitable solution, dermal fillers must be reinjected annually and can be extremely expensive. Advances in the field of cosmetic technology have opened up options for facial redefinition and patients now have access to fat transfers to face as a safe and effective solution to increasing fat cell volume for facial definition.
Otherwise known as fat grafts, facial fat transfers require a physician to move fat cells from a donor area of the body via liposuction and reinject the cells into another portion of the body. Before the final transfer is performed, fat cells are purified as a means of ensuring their successful survival post-transfer. The reinjection of fat cells into another part of the body works to increase cell volume at the new injection site. Beyond facial fat transfers, this technique is popular amongst patients looking to increase fat cell volume around the buttocks and breasts.
The majority of patients undergoing facial fat transfers will see successful results through the plumping of fine lines, crow’s feet and worry lines around the mouth. Similarly, many patients see results leading to reduced visibility of under eye bags or discoloration. In general, reducing the appearance of sunken cheeks and fine lines helps patients regain a more youthful, overall appearance.
As compared to dermal fillers, the results of facial fat transfers last much longer and can be considered permanent. Instead of annual adjustments, a facial fat transfer may mean noticeable and successful results for years after the procedure is completed. After some loss of fat cells during the transfer and grafting there will be a permanent aesthetic alteration.
Certain areas of the face are naturally prone to less daily movement and tend to present with more visible changes as skin loses elasticity and fat cells. The cheeks and mid-line of the face move less frequently than areas surrounding the mouth and eyes. For this reason, facial fat transfers are extremely successful for reducing the appearance of lines and sagging in these particularly sensitive areas.
Facial fat transfers are generally performed as outpatient procedures in the comfort of the attending physician’s office. These procedures do not require the use of general anesthesia which eliminates any associated risks. The majority of patients will require only local anesthetic to numb the injection sites. Patients can expect to walk out of the office unassisted after the procedure is complete and return to normal activities within a few hours following treatment. Most patients experience mild swelling and possibly bruising at the site of the injections which generally disappears within a few days to weeks. Because this procedure uses the patient’s own fat cells, it proves to be an extremely safe and effective option. With the added benefit of providing natural-looking results, patients can rest easy knowing that fat cells are thoroughly cleansed and separated from any damaged cells prior to reinjection. This method ensures long-lasting and successful results.
The first step towards putting a treatment plan in place when it comes to facial fat grafts is to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Wright at the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center. An initial consultation is an important meeting that allows prospective patients to meet individually with the performing physician and go over their medical profile, questions and concerns in a comfortable setting. Our team provides a comprehensive approach to treatment and holds patient understanding of procedures and options as a top priority.
It’s important for prospective patients to check with their insurance providers about coverage options prior to any treatment being performed. Most insurance carriers consider facial fat grafts a cosmetic procedure, those seeking treatment that may be linked to underlying medical conditions could find the cost of care covered under their respective plans. For additional information on financing options, be sure to speak with the team at the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center.