Fat Transfer is a procedure where a cosmetic surgeon takes fat from an area of the body where you have too much of it – often around your abdomen or thighs – and transfers it to another place that needs it. How cool is that? Today we’d like to discuss the pros and cons of using such harvested fat as a facial filler.
Facial or dermal fillers are an excellent way to rejuvenate your face. Our plastic surgeons at NuBody Concepts Cosmetic Surgery in Nashville and Memphis inject dermal fillers such as Juvederm and Volbella as well as using the fat transfer method described below.
Liposuction: The Premier Fat Transfer Technology
Fat Transfer is made possible by the advancements in liposuction technology over recent decades. It used to be more difficult to preserve the fat removed by liposuction, but with today’s devices it isn’t difficult at all. The fat is removed via a tiny cannula inserted under the skin and is preserved in a closed system until ready to be used as a filler.
It’s important to note that CoolSculpting and other fat freezing methods cannot accomplish this. With liposuction, the fat physically leaves the body. With CoolSculpting, the fat does not actually leave the body and thus cannot be used elsewhere. Only liposuction can deliver this 2-for-1 fat removal bonus.
What Can You Do With the Harvested Fat?
Typically the fat suctioned off during liposuction is simply discarded. You could also take it home in a jar – yes, ewwww. No none has ever taken us up on that:).
But here is the thing: Rather than discarding it, you can use the fat as a natural filler in various areas of the body.
One such area is a woman’s breasts, using fat instead of an implant to increase volume. However, at NuBody Concepts we typically counsel patients to choose a breast augmentation with implants to better be able to shape their breasts. It is more difficult to achieve good results with fat transfer alone.
Another area some plastic surgeons like to transfer harvested fat into is the buttocks. This is called a Brazilian Butt Lift and is very popular in some areas of the country. However, it has also been shown to carry unacceptably high risks as opposed to almost every other cosmetic surgery practiced today. NuBody Concepts does not perform Brazilian Butt Lifts for this reason.
Fat Transfer as Facial Filler
With a facial filler, you can reverse the signs of aging, particularly around the mouth and lips. As we get older, the skin loses its elasticity and begins to sag. Lines that deepen with age begin to emerge between nose and mouth – you may have heard of nasolabial creases and marionette lines. By filling in these lines, or plumping up your cheeks or lips, your face instantly looks younger and fresher.
For your filler material, you basically have two options: an artificial filler such as Juvederm, Volbella, Voluma, etc, or your own fat via fat transfer.
Which one is better, you might ask?
Pros and Cons of Fillers
Pros: Fillers can be dosed in very small amounts and are great for contouring around the eyes, mouth and lips. They are completely non-invasive and have a quick recovery time.
Cons: They are more expensive, especially when you need more volume. They may cause some swelling and bruising. And lastly, they will be gradually absorbed by the face and essentially disappear (they typically last up to 9 months).
Pros and Cons of Fat Transfer
Pros: If you need a lot of volume, fat is the best. It’s easily harvested from other areas like abdomen or thighs with essentially unlimited supply, and it’s also cheap. Also, the transferred fat cells will last a long time, as they are not absorbed like an artificial filler.
Cons: Fat transfer can cause some bruising and swelling that may last longer than after a filler injection. The liposuction itself may require an anesthetic, whereas fillers are injected without them. And lastly, the fine lines around the mouths are harder to fill with fat transfer.
What you choose in the end depends on your personal circumstance: Do you have a lot of volume you’d like to replace in your face to fill out sunken cheeks, for instance? Then fat transfer may be your best option. Do you want to plump up your lips or fill in nasolabial folds? An injectable dermal filler might be more suitable.
Either way, it’s undisputed that more women and men rely on fillers to rejuvenate their face. Contact us today in Nashville or Memphis to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to help you decide which filler works best for you!