Facial Fat Transfer

When aging patients consult plastic surgeons for facial rejuvenation, they often confine their thinking to skin tightening processes, exclusively unaware that facial atrophy is often a dominant factor for their aged appearance. In fact, sometimes the only rejuvenation process recommended by Dr. Eric Okamoto, our board-certified plastic surgeon, is facial volume restoration with fat grafting. There is no doubt that certain areas of our faces “shrink” with time. As we age, our skin loses fat at multiple sites, from the temples down to the jawline. A youthful face is full, whereas many old faces appear empty or deflated. Fat injections, also referred to as fat transfer or fat grafting, can restore volume and fullness to facial features and significantly reduce common signs of aging. With this advanced procedure, Dr. Okamoto can restore a youthful, vibrant appearance with results that look natural.

What Are the Benefits of Facial Fat Injections?

Fat injections offer a variety of benefits for patients who are looking to:

  • Add volume to facial features that frequently shrink, such as the temples, upper and lower eyelids, cheeks, nasolabial folds, lips, chin, and jawline
  • Reduce signs of wrinkles and give the skin a smoother appearance
  • Reduce signs of mild scarring and other skin damage
  • Enhance beautifying facial contours and definition of certain facial features

This treatment can be beneficial for both men and women who are looking to effectively enhance their facial appearance. Dr. Okamoto looks forward to answering all of your questions during the initial consultation. If this treatment is ideal for your needs and goals, Dr. Okamoto will develop a customized treatment plan designed to meet your expectations.

Am I a Candidate for Facial Fat Injections?


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Ideal candidates for fat injections are typically individuals who are in relatively good general health and have enhancement goals that can be successfully addressed by this particular procedure. It is important to note that, when fat injections are contemplated as a treatment, a patient’s weight history should be considered. For those who have had wild swings in their weight in the past, fat grafts might be contraindicated because the fat transferred in someone who gains considerable weight afterwards might experience facial distortion as the fat volume expands. Hence, fat injections in younger patients to volumize requested facial characteristics (e.g. enhanced cheeks) – where an historical perspective is lacking – should be performed conservatively or perhaps not done at all.

During your initial consultation, Dr. Okamoto will talk with you about your concerns and help you determine whether fat injections or an alternative procedure will be suitable for your needs.

What Does the Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Involve?

Fat transfer procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. During the operation, excess fat must be delicately removed from a “donor” area of your body – typically the abdomen or flanks, but almost any site with excess fat can be utilized. A small harvesting cannula is employed to ensure that the fat particles planned for transfer are tiny pellets that will increase their chance for long-term survival. After the fat is extracted, it is spun down in a centrifuge to separate it from the unwanted portions of the harvest. This fat is transferred to 1 Ml syringes to further enhance the chance of survival of the transferred fat by spreading it as small aliquots that allow for more contact to existing blood vessels. For some specialized goals where “nanofat” is required, the fat is filtered down to even smaller particles before injecting. When these measures are followed carefully, the transferred fat has the best chance to restore fullness. However, it must be understood that, even under the best conditions, not all of the transferred fat permanently survives. Several months after a fat transfer operation, when the surviving fat can be more accurately determined, an appraisal can be made as to whether a satisfactory result has been achieved or if another attempt should be considered to add more volume.

When fat successfully fills out the facial areas that have lost volume with aging, it is often remarkable how youthful the face becomes. Although volume restoration with fat injections is sometimes done alone, it is usually combined with other facial enhancement procedures, such as facelift or eyelid surgery, for a more comprehensive rejuvenation.

What Can I Expect During Facial Fat Transfer Recovery?

The recovery process for fat transfer varies from patient to patient, depending upon the extent of treatment necessary; however, many patients experience only minimal downtime after this treatment. Bruising and swelling in the treatment areas are common effects following the procedure and should subside rather quickly; discomfort can be controlled with medication.

What Are the Risks of Facial Fat Transfer?

Although Dr. Okamoto is highly experienced with these procedures and will take every precaution to make the treatment as safe as possible, it is important to remember that fat transfer requires surgery, and all surgical procedures involve some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications that can be associated with fat transfer procedures include infection, a collection of blood under the skin (hematoma), aesthetic results that may appear asymmetrical, and the rare possibility that fat could be injected into a facial artery with serious consequences. By choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Okamoto, who is extensively trained and experienced in both fat transfer and the techniques necessary to harvest the fat from the donor areas, you can be assured that safety will be prioritized. Dr. Okamoto will work diligently to ensure any risks of this procedure are minimized.

How Long Does Fat Transfer to the Face Last?

The results from fat injections should be immediately noticeable and continue to improve as post-operative swelling dissipates. Since not all of the fat transferred survives, generally an accurate assessment of the fat that will continue to live is at about three months following the procedure. One of the advantages of fat transfer treatments is that the effects can last much longer than that of other cosmetic injectable procedures – in most cases, the results have lasted for years.

Dr. Eric Okamoto will be happy to answer any questions you may have about fat injections and fat transfer procedures. Please contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

*Individual results may vary