Facial Fat Transfer / Fat Grafting of the Face

Loss of facial volume occurs for many reasons including aging, massive weight loss, and in athletes with low body fat. Loss of facial volume can exaggerate normal aging and give younger patients a gaunt look.

A surgical fat transfer or fat grafting is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to restore and enhance volume using a patient’s own tissue (fat). Through a highly specialized process, fat is harvested under sterile conditions, processed and injected to increase facial volume. This is a complex procedure. Fat must be harvested in such a way as to preserve the integrity of the fat cells. It is important to not disrupt the fat cell membrane so that live fat cells are transferred. During Dr. Stile’s procedure, up to 80% of transferred fat will survive and provide patients with long lasting results.

Fat transfer of viable fat cells can augment the treated areas of the face including: the brow, temples, around the eyes, cheeks, nasolabial folds (smile lines), lips, marionette lines and chin. Our patients have also observed and reported healthier looking skin following fat grafting that may be attributed to growth factors in the transplanted fat by Dr. Stile’s technique and procedure.

Fat grafting results are long-lasting, but they should not be considered “permanent.” As patients continue to age, they will eventually lose some of their grafted volume so the fat grafting procedure and process may be repeated as needed. Dr. Stile is an expert at this procedure and his harvesting technique increases live fat cell transfer viability for patients.

Fat Transfer / Fat Grafting of the Face Procedure

Facial fat grafting is performed in our state-of-the-art fully licensed Ambulatory Surgery Center (Premium Surgical Services Center). Our Premium Surgical Services Center is also Joint Commission certified. The Fat Transfer procedure is performed while using either general anesthesia or IV sedation for patient comfort control. Anesthesia services as well as pre- and post-operative care are provided by Dr. Stile’s Board Certified Anesthesiologist. Fat Transfer surgery is an outpatient surgical procedure. Patients are assessed and discharged so they may return to their comfort of their home immediately following surgery.

The customized operative plan is created by Dr. Stile’s following a patient’s evaluation and consultation. By reviewing images and discussing viable options with the patient provides Dr. Stile with a deeper understanding of a patient’s expectations and desired outcome. Prior to surgery, the procedure is next mapped out on the patient’s face using a surgical marker. Typically, a Fat Transfer procedure lasts two hours.

Patient’s fat will be harvested as gently as possible using the tumescent technique. The tumescent fat harvest technique utilizes a very dilute solution of local anesthetic (lidocaine) and epinephrine (adrenaline) mixed in antibiotic treated IV fluid. This mixture is infiltrated (injected) into the fatty area(s) the patient wishes to use as a harvest site. The fat is then aspirated (using suction) using a series of small cannulas or small thin tubes. Fat may be harvested from different areas including the abdomen, flanks (sides) and inner or outer thighs. The harvested fat is then processed, purified and placed into many small volume syringes.

Next, Dr. Stile uses a series of specially designed micro-cannulas to inject the fat into precise locations in the face following his detailed operative plan. Dr. Stile incrementally, injects the fat, in a similar fashion as a sculptor would sculpt and form clay, resulting in an aesthetically beautiful face.

Fat Transfer / Fat Grafting of the Face Recovery

When surgery is completed, injection sites are coated with antibiotic ointment and the face is fitted with loose bandages. Patients recover in our post-anesthesia care unit and when stable, patients are discharged to return to the comfort of their home.

Patients are instructed to rest while keeping their head elevated following their procedure. Some of Dr. Stile’s patients have reported minor discomfort following facial fat grafting surgery, but this can be controlled by administering oral pain medication. Cold compresses and arnica preparations may be used to minimize swelling and improve the healing process.

Dr. Stile’s patients are asked to return the following day for a surgical site check and dressing change. Seven (7) days later, harvest site sutures are removed in the office and patients may return to a full and active lifestyle as tolerated in as little as one week following surgery.

Cosmetic improvements from this procedure are immediately evident, but full and completely mature results are appreciated several weeks after the surgery, as the swelling subsides. The benefits of this procedure are long-lasting and Dr. Stile’s patients will have a more healthy and youthful look.

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