Why have fat transfer in the face?
Fat can be used for it’s properties to both fill the skin to give more volume and also for it’s ability to improve the quality of the skin and wrinkles. Fat is a source of not only fat cells but also Stem cells which have ability to help with healing and blood supply.
As we get older we loose fat from the face and particularly in the cheeks, around the eye and in the lips. Adding volume rejuvenates the face and gives a more youthful appearance. A child looks youthful partly due to the fat in their face.
Also we get wrinkles in the face with age which can be deep or fine. Fat can be used to soften these. Fat transfer can be used in isolation but more commonly as an adjunct to face lift or eyelid surgery.
Types of fat transfer?
Standard fat transfer – Fat is harvested from the tummy or thighs, cleaned and then injected with small needles into deeper tissue and just under the skin. This is used to add volume and help with skin rejuvenation.
Nanofat – Here the fat is altered to help break down the fat cells but preserve the stem cells. The fat becomes thinner and can be injected with fine needles into the dermis of the skin. It is used to help improve fine wrinkles and also quality of the skin. This technique can also be combined with dermabrasion to maximise impact on wrinkles, particularly around the mouth.
Often both types of fat transfer will be used in the same operation. Fat transfer will always help but will not eliminate wrinkles and cannot add large volumes of change into the cheeks in a single operation. This is because the fat needs to be placed in very small amounts with each injection to maximise the chance of fat surviving. When the tissues are very thin there is only so much that can be injected. Probably about 50% of injected fat survives to give long-term benefit. It can be repeated.
Complications of fat transfer
- Infection – Very uncommon, especially in the face but if occurs would need antibiotics
- Swelling – It is common to get swelling in the cheek/eye region and also in the lip. This will usually subside in 1-2 weeks but can persist longer
- Lumpiness or cysts – Uncommon in the face but if an area of fat becomes scar then it can create a lump. This will usually disappear over time
- Loss of fat – Some of the injected fat will be lost in the first 3-4 months. After this time the remaining fat is likely to have survived and be relatively permanent. There will still be ageing of the face so nothing is absolutely permanent.
- Scars – The injection sites are tiny and rarely visible. Occasionally the injection site can pin cushion leaving a very small dimple
- Eye injury and blindness – This exceptionally rare complication has been described in the world literature. It occurs when a needle causes bleeding near the eye or fat is injected into a blood vessel that travels to the eye causing damage.
Costs of fat transfer
Fat transfer to the face costs from £1,700 as part of another operation