Fillers are an extremely popular way to rejuvenate different areas of the face and body, and one of the most versatile cosmetic fillers is a patient’s own fat. Thanks to today’s modern techniques, removing fat from an area where it’s unwanted and transferring somewhere more useful is a relatively simple and very effective process. I often use fat either on its own or to enhance the results of a facelift or breast augmentation for patients at our Palm Desert practice serving Riverside County.
During a fat transfer procedure, I harvest fatty tissue from one area of the body — usually the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks — then process it to filter out impurities before injecting the healthy fat cells into the treatment area.
I’ve advocated for the benefits of fat grafting, as the technique is sometimes called, for many years. Fat is excellent for filling in hollows of the face and wrinkled areas for the plump, firm look of youth. The technique only recently started getting more attention because it is being used more often for breast enhancement without implants. As a plastic surgeon with extensive fat transfer experience, I believe the technique is most useful to put the finishing touches on a breast augmentation procedure with implants, rather than as an alternative.
For example, I use fat to soften the appearance of the implants around the edges, or to create enhanced cleavage so that it looks and feels natural. The technique requires experience, because not all the fat used in a procedure will survive. It also requires a well-trained eye for aesthetics to customize the shape and contours of the breast to fit a patient’s proportions in a natural-looking way.
I also typically include fat transfer during a facelift. Fat creates a very natural appearance because the results are 3-dimensional, as you can see in these before-and-after photos. The underlying tissue and muscles of the face are lifted vertically, while the fat helps augment areas around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead that have a hollowed out look.
And, as a natural filler, fat does more than just restore the volume lost from our faces as we age. Unlike synthetic fillers, fat improves skin quality because it attracts a supply of blood rich in stem cells and organically rejuvenates the treatment area.
In an era that favors natural products, it is fat transfer’s time to shine.