Fat Transfer (injections)
Fat transfer (also known as fat injections) is a cosmetic procedure to fill wrinkles and enhance the contours of your face. The procedure involves drawing fat from a part of your body and injecting it into areas of your face. Fat injections can also be used to augment other areas of your body. On the facial region, the treatment is commonly used to improve nose to mouth lines (nasolabial folds).
Frequently Asked Questions
Since it’s your own body tissue, fat is the best filler in terms of the body’s acceptance of the material. With other fillers such as collagen there’s a possibility of your body rejecting the foreign substance. Whilst there’s limited possibility of an allergic reaction when using your own fat, the results are unpredictable and the fat is eventually absorbed by the body, requiring repeat sessions. The absorption rate varies among individuals and also depends on site of injection. However, more than half of the fat is absorbed within 6 months.
Fat Transfer Procedure
The procedure takes approximately half an hour to 45 minutes. It’s performed at the surgeon’s or doctor’s clinic under local anaesthetic. The area from where your fat is to be drawn is called the ‘donor site’. The anaesthetic is used on the donor site as well as the site of injection.
The donor site can include the upper inner thighs, buttocks, abdomen, knees and even your underarm. The fat is sucked out from the deep subcutaneous layer of the skin using a small cannula (a metal tool usually used for liposuction). The cannula used for fat injections is smaller. The incision is small, just enough to fit the cannula.
The removed fat is then filtered from any blood which may have been extracted during the process. Once filtered, the surgeon injects the fat into your face using a series of tiny needles. The doctor will use about 30% more fat than is required (this is because many of the fat cells will die at the time of the fat transfer).
Fat Transfer Recovery
After the procedure, some doctors may require you to remain at the clinic for up to two hours to recover. During the first few hours your face may sting and throb. When you get home, you should rest for the first two days (preferably bed rest with your head propped up on pillows). After fat injections, your skin may appear red and bruised for a couple of days. Your face may also appear chubby or swollen due to the larger amount of fat that needed to be injected to compensate for dying cells. This chubbiness can last for a few weeks.
Try to avoid facial movements and avoid wetting the wounds during the first week. Don’t touch your face where the fat has been injected (you could end up with permanent dents). You won’t be able to exercise for about three weeks. Bending and lifting should also be avoided for the first few weeks (since this can raise blood pressure to the head).
Fat Transfer Risks
The risks and complications involved with fat injections include:
- Rejection – your body may reject the fat. However, this risk is small (much smaller than if foreign materials were used).
- If the surgeon is not skilled or careful there could be complications such as injury to facial nerves, lumpiness and discoloration.
- Infection – this is a small risk, treated with antibiotics.
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