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Fat transfer or, the ‘organic facelift’

Apr 20, 2016 | Combination treatments, Facetite

Fat Transfer involves taking fat from one place in the body (usually the stomach), purifying it by extracting blood and other fluids, then carefully placing it to contour another part of the body (usually the face).

This can be particularly useful when age-related volume loss is obvious. Or where fat atrophy has occurred after illness for example.
Dermal fillers can be useful for restoring fullness to parts of the face, but in some cases, amount needed may be of such a degree that fat transfer is a better option.

The advantages of fat transfer are:

1. Longevity. Fat transfer can last longer than filler. Over time, the fat, too will decrease but at a slower rate than dermal fillers
2. It is natural. Because it is your own tissue that is being used for volume loss replacement, there is no risk of a rejection reaction occurring.
3. Results can look more natural.

The disadvantages of fat transfer are:

1. Inconvenience. Fat transfer, done properly under aseptic (surgically clean) conditions takes a couple of hours to do properly and requires a theatre environment to do safely
2. Risk. The usual risks of infection and irregularity of contours apply here but, with careful technique, are minimal.
3. Cost. Fat transfer costs £950; when compared with Dermal Fillers which start at £250, this looks like an expensive option. However, depending on your circumstances in the long term, it may be cheaper – typically the volume of dermal filler is priced per ml; Fat Transfer enables the injection of far greater volumes than is ever feasible with fillers.

How is it done?

I usually carry out Fat Transfer at the same time as FaceTite and Fractora (the example above was a combination of FaceTite, Fractora and Fat Transfer) as the patient is prepared surgically anyway and has allowed for down time of approximately one week.
As with the other procedures, consent is taken, antibiotics are given, photographs are recorded and the area to be treated is marked with a felt pen.
The ‘donor ‘area is also marked.

The donor area (usually the abdomen) is prepared first, with iodine swabs and surgical drapes. Local anaesthetic is then infused gently into the area of fat to be harvested. A tiny incision is made in the skin which allows insertion of the liposuction cannula. This is used to suck out an amount of fat into a special container which then filters out the blood and local anaesthetic, leaving just prepared fat for grafting. In practice I usually take out a bit more than I use because I’m there anyway and the advantage is a flatter stomach for the patient. Also, there is always a reduction in the volume injected over time. Up to 40% can disappear in a couple of years.

This harvested fat is then set aside and work can begin on the face. As I mentioned, I tend to combine this with FaceTite so I transfer the fat after that but before I do Fractora resurfacing. All in all, combining fat grafting with Face Tite, NeckTite, Lipomodelling of the jaw line and Fractora resurfacing results in significant improvements in facial ageing.

Is it Painful?

You will feel nothing as all areas treated are completely numb with local anaesthetic.
It usually takes about a week for the main swelling to reduce and up to 3 weeks for it to resolve completely.
The skin of the face continues to contract over the next 6 months so you will see an ongoing improvement. This, of course, adds to the subtle, natural nature of this procedure.

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