As we age, the fat in certain parts of our body tends to atrophy or dissipate. This is particularly true in areas such as the face, hands and under the eyes. An alternative to injectable filllers is utilization of the patient’s own fat cells to add volume to these areas. Over the past several years, the techniques for fat grafting, also known as fat transfer, have improved dramatically, and results are excellent.
The Micro Fat-grafting procedure involves removing excess fat from one part of the body and injecting it into an area where fat is needed. Once the fat cells are removed with special needles called cannulas, the fat is specially processed and then reinjected using very small needles into the areas to be treated. The most common areas treated are the cheeks, facial smile lines, under eyes, and laugh lines. Micro-fat can also be used to treat thin skin on the back of the hands, as well as plumping of the lips. Compared to conventional fillers, fat has the advantage of being potentially permanent and natural.
The fat transfer procedure is usually done in the office under local anesthesia. Anesthetic is injected into the area where the fat is harvested as well as the areas which will receive the fat. Some of the fat cells will reabsorb over the following few weeks, but, in general approximately 70% of the fat injected should remain. Compared to conventional fillers, there tends to be slightly more bruising and swelling which can last for a few weeks. Once this subsides, however, the results are natural and permanent. An additional benefit of fat grafting is that stem cells in the fat have a positive effect on the quality of the skin, with significant skin texture improvement being noted by many patients.
Two other exciting new techniques using fat are Nano-fat grafting and SNIF (sharp needle intradermal fat-grafting.) In the Nano-fat grafting technique, the fat cells are broken down to release the growth factors and stem cells. This Nano-fat is injected with small needles directly beneath the skin with the goal of improving skin quality and texture. The Nano-fat itself does not add significant volume but takes advantage of the growth factors to stimulate collagen formation. During the SNIF procedure, Nano-fat is injected with small needles directly beneath the skin into fine line and wrinkles. This is done very precisely with very small amounts of fat. The use of the needle releases the tethering bands beneath the wrinkles, and the fat fills in the wrinkle. This is especially helpful for fine wrinkles around the mouth and has been used for wrinkles in the neck.
During your consultation, our providers will discuss options for fat grafting with you. The procedure, alternatives, as well as risks and recovery time will be discussed. Our goal is to tailor each procedure specifically for the patient and his or her specific needs. Fat grafting is not for everyone but does provide an excellent alternative to fillers as well as to more aggressive procedures such as facelifts and neck lifts. To find out if a fat transfer is the right procedure for you, please fill out our consultation form or call us at 315.663.0112.