Fat Transfer

The Essential Facts*
Length of Procedure
1 – 2 hours
Local with/without sedation anaesthesia
Outpatient/Day case
Time off work
1-3 days
Getting back to normal/sport
0-2 weeks (recovery from bruising/swelling: up to 10 days or longer for swelling)

Facial wrinkles and creases are part of the ageing process. They begin to appear as the underlying hyaluronic acid and elastin fibers break down and wear out. While this breakdown is part of the natural ageing process, it can also result from loss of facial fat, facial muscles and even facial bone with ageing, in addition to excessive squinting, frowning and smiling. The result; a sunken face with inward curves the telltale sign of an ageing face instead of the outward curves seen in children. Gentle outward curves associated with a youthful appearance cab be recreated by transferring fat to the face. Simply pulling out the skin with a face lift may give the look of a face stuck out of the window of a Boeing 747.


Your options for filling facial wrinkles

Injectable hyaluronic Acids and fat cells taken from your own body are the two most frequently used materials for filling facial wrinkles and frown lines. While hyaluronic acid can smooth out wrinkles, injectable hyaluronic acid isn’t for everyone. It only lasts for six months and for longer lasting improvement you may consider fat transfer. Fat transfer, also called autologous fat transplantation or micro-lipo-injection, plumps up facial features with a patient’s own fat and is a popular alternative to other wrinkle treatments. Fat transfer to the face is a safe, natural, non-allergenic procedure designed to recontour your face and can provide definition to your cheeks and chin. It can also be used to correct facial deformities. Since fat transfer uses your own fat cells, you can never have an allergic reaction, because it’s from your own body. With fat transfer it is possible to have fat liposuctioned from your thighs and then transferred to any area of your body. Re-injected fat lasts longer in larger areas of non-movement, so it is very successful for the correction of sunken cheeks because this area does not move as often.

Fat transfer can also correct atrophic ageing of the hands, post-surgical and post-traumatic defects. But not every area of the body responds well to fat transfer. The breasts for instance, are out. Injecting fat into the breast makes it much more difficult to detect breast cancer with mammograms. Fat transfer to the buttocks is also not reliable and it is best to use buttock implants.


What are the benefits of Fat Transfer?

•   Fat transferred to the face can last as long as ten years.
•   Fat transfer can be very cost effective when combined with another procedure.
•   With fat transfer there’s no chance of an allergic reaction


What can I expect after my fat transfer?

Fat TransferPatients are up and around immediately following fat injections. Any discomfort following the procedure can be controlled with medication. Some swelling at the treatment site may last up to seven days. There may be some bruising, which can be covered with make-up. Your initial injection should last up to six months. Over the first few months about 65% of the fat will be absorbed by your body. The remaining 35% will usually stay in place for years. For results that will last years, patients usually receive two to three treatments over a six month period.


How is the procedure done?

Fat transfer is performed in our office on an outpatient basis. Both the area from which the fat is taken and the treatment site are anesthetized with a local anesthetic. Using a small needle attached to a syringe, fat is removed from a donor site where your fat is most tightly packed, such as your abdomen or your buttocks.

Once removed, your fat is processed to remove excess fluids and then re-injected using another needle, which is placed just under your skin beneath the wrinkle. This process may be repeated until the desired correction has been achieved.

Harvesting the fat cells for re-injection is often performed in conjunction with other procedures, such as liposuction, tummy tuck or cosmetic breast surgery. When fat is harvested during another procedure, it is often possible for your surgeon to harvest a larger amount of fat, then freeze and store your fat for future injections when they become necessary.