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When Fat Transfer Might be the Better Option

When Fat Transfer Might be the Better Option

Caucasian elegant woman with pleasure treating skin with beauty device for peelingAs we age, our skin begins to show signs of exposure to the elements. Not only does aging affect the surface of the skin, the production of specific structures and molecules decreases, affecting the skin’s elasticity and ability to rebound from movement caused by facial muscles.

Over time, this can lead to faster development of fine lines and wrinkles around your face. And since your skin is less able to return after being stretched, lines and wrinkles that were already there can deepen and become more permanent and visible even without movement of your facial muscles.

There are many minimally-invasive treatments that can safely, easily, and effectively slow and reduce these signs of aging on your face. Most of these treatments take less than 30 minutes and require no recovery time after.

However, the results are relatively temporary, and repeat treatments must be performed every 12 months to keep the same look. These less invasive treatments also are not always successful at removing deeper lines and creases.

Although slightly more invasive, fat transfer or fat grafting is still a safe and easy way to effectively restore lost volume from beneath your skin, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

During the procedure, your doctor will remove a certain amount of fat cells from your own body, from areas with excess fat. The fat cells are then cleansed and prepared, then injected using special techniques in the treatment area on your face. This provides near-immediate results while less invasive than more complex surgical procedures.

Fat transfer also has two significant benefits over many other treatment options. Since the fat is naturally harvested from your own body, there is nearly no risk of adverse reaction or rejection of treatment. And as the fat cells settle in the injection site, the results are relatively permanent and rarely require follow-up treatments.

If you want to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles or other signs of aging on your face but with a more permanent solution, call the Center for Plastic Surgery in Highlands, NC, at 828-526-3783 or visit to schedule a fat transfer consultation.

Non-Surgical Treatments for an Improved Look

Part of woman's face. Woman's lips, nose and hand. Soft skin.In the past several years, plastic surgeons have heard patients loud and clear. As effective as surgical procedures are, the vast majority of patients would like to address the signs of aging and other cosmetic objectives without setting foot in the operating room. We understand the draw of nonsurgical cosmetic treatments. We also understand the value of them, their safety, and what they can accomplish with little, if any, downtime. In our Highlands, NC office, we offer a wide range of nonsurgical treatments to refresh and improve your look. 

A Little Something to Keep in Mind

Nonsurgical anti-aging and cosmetic treatments are safe, effective, and convenient. With newer products and techniques many are lasting significantly longer than previously and some have even replaced more invasive procedures. More involved and generally surgical methods are needed if the problem is excess skin. However, a great deal of aging is from loss of dermal support and volume of fat, muscle, and bone. Both of these are treatable with non-surgical means. Let’s take a look at some of our most popular non-surgical treatment options for a younger, more radiant appearance.

Nonsurgical Facial Enhancement

Facial enhancements are performed both to correct the signs of aging and to bring more symmetry and proportion to the face.

In younger patients, most procedures are to improve inherited traits such as lip asymmetries or size or under eye depressions caused by low attachment of the muscles there. Some nasal problems are also amenable to filler correction.

In older individuals, we usually replace volume loss or treat wrinkles. The former is generally a filler off the shelf such as one of the Juvederm family or your own fat. Fat was initially the method of choice since it is quite long lasting when done properly. However, with the introduction of Radiesse in 2005, which could last several years, and later in 2015 of Juvederm Voluma, which can last many years, fat transfer became less popular. We treat wrinkles initially with Botox to stop the underlying muscles from causing wrinkles if stopping the muscle from functioning has no needed functional deficit. We now treat established wrinkles with the new less dense fillers and methods to stimulate collagen instead of lasers and deep peels.

We all use of these methods Today’s Liquid Lift, a customized treatment developed by Dr. Buchanan after years of performing facelift surgeries. The liquid facelift that he performs is tailored to correct the exact problems that one has with the fastest results and least invasion. This may include various injectables, fat grafting, and Botox as needed to fully refresh and rejuvenate the face with minimal downtime.

Your facial rejuvenation can begin now. Contact our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783 to schedule your visit. earache

Is the Liquid Facelift Right for You?

Youthful volumized face obtainable with a liquid faceliftThe signs of aging are a frustrating concern for many adults. We know certain changes will occur, and we know why. Still, we’d prefer to sidestep them if we can. As facial structure transforms over time, we need more profound correction. Is it possible to achieve this without surgery? It may be! To help patients address their cosmetic concerns, Dr. Buchanan has developed Today’s Liquid Lift™. We’ll discuss how this process works and why it is popular among our patients.

What Is A Liquid Facelift?

Just by the name alone, you can probably guess that a Liquid Facelift utilizes various injectables to correct the signs of aging. Fillers, either off the shelf or your own fat, are injected to improve volume. Botox is used in certain areas to relax muscle contractions that pull on the skin. Today’s Liquid Lift addresses the signs of aging using Botox, hyaluronic acid fillers and fat injections. This technique, developed by Dr. Buchanan to address the aging that naturally occurs after facial plastic surgery, corrects the natural deflation of the face that occurs over time.

Facial aging continues regardless of surgery or fillers and Botox. As it does, the loose skin that results from volume loss droops downward. The opposing actions of sagging skin and supportive ligaments deep beneath the skin result in cosmetic problems like undereye bags and the loss of youthful cheek contour. Nasolabial folds and marionette lines also deepen around the nose and mouth as tissue descends further. Fillers may soften the appearance of these lines but they do not correct the original problem, the loss of volume.

The purpose of Today’s Liquid Lift is to artistically restore the triangular shape of the youthful face. This technique increases the width at the top areas of the face, tapering incrementally to narrow at the jawline and chin. Treatment focuses on restoring volume in the mid-face, across the cheeks. Filling out this area naturally elevates the skin and tissue that have descended downward toward the jawline. Targeting the upper malar area near the tear trough, Dr. Buchanan can also smooth the transition from the cheek to the lower eyelid, camouflaging puffiness.

Experience the benefits of a Liquid Facelift. Contact our Highlands, NC office at Cal(828) 526-3783 to schedule your consultation.

What to Expect After Fat Transfer Facial Rejuvenation

Facial Aging with Volume LossMany people associate the signs of aging with the skin, but that is only part of the story. Facial aging is a matter of degradation of not only the skin but the structures that support it. Sure, the skin becomes thin and loose over time, but there are also changes happening beneath the  surface. One of them is the loss of fatty tissue. This happens generally but is significantly noticeable in the midface. Previously, the solution was to tighten the skin via a facelift. Today, one of the primary strategies is to refill the mid-face with fillers. Even more progressive, though, is the use of fat from your own body to smooth wrinkles and restore volume and normal contours. Even with facelifts, the procedure is no longer simply to remove the excess skin but is also to replace fat to its normal position and fill.

Fat transfer has become one of the most popular approaches to nonsurgical facial rejuvenation. There are several reasons why. Fat injections are conservative, do not require general anesthesia, and they achieve results that outlast almost all off the shelf fillers. They also transfer stem cells that can further rejuvenate the overlying skin and surrounding tissues. They essentially replace exactly what has been lost.

The Procedure:

The two-step process is simple: Dr. Buchanan performs a minor liposuction procedure on an area of the body where there is extra fat. The fat is washed, removing the anesthetic fluid, tissue, and blood, leaving only viable, live fat  and stem cells. These are then injected into the areas of the face that need more volume. There is much skepticism about fat grafting, mainly because most physicians who have tried it have approached it like regular liposuction and injecting fillers, neither of which you can do and obtain good results. All three of the above steps are very important in keeping the fat cells alive and obtaining a good result. The removal of the fat has to be done with fine, very smooth canulas at a reduced pressure to keep from injuring the cells. Injection is the most important, as the live cells have to be placed in very thin rows next to tissue with excellent blood supply to keep them from dying. If placed like a filler, the cells in the center of the masses just die and produce lumps. When done correctly, greater than 75% of the fat injected survives and there are no lumps.

What you can expect after Fat Transfer:

During the first week after fat injections, you can expect some bruising and swelling. This happens both where fat has been removed and where fat cells have been injected, though bruising is usually minimal on the face. Cold compresses may be used to soothe mild discomfort and also reduce swelling. In spite of this, most people can return to normal light activities by the next day and vigorous activities by a week. Swelling often resolves more quickly than bruising but the latter can be covered with camouflage make-up.

We slightly overfill the area if the tissues will allow it to try and reduce the need for a second procedure. However, if your tissues do not allow this, a second lesser graft almost always provides excellent cosmetic contours.

Facial rejuvenation is something that helps a lot of people feel like themselves again. You may not need surgery to accomplish that. For more information about fat injections, contact our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

Reasons Fat Transfer May be Ideal for You

Fat Injection Highlands, NCWe recently discussed how facial fat transfer works and what to expect after treatment. With more people considering a move away from off the shelf fillers and toward a more permanent solution to facial volume loss, we understand many questions need to be answered. Here, we discuss some of the top reasons why people choose facial fat transfer over fillers, and why you may want to do the same.

Two Benefits in One Treatment

When we use fillers to restore facial volume, the product we inject is provided by a manufacturer. When we perform fat transfer, the substance that supplies volume is your own body fat. To obtain fat cells for transfer, it is necessary to perform minor liposuction. Patients often choose small areas that are troublesome, such as the hips, flanks, or abdomen, to harvest fat. Liposuction performed under local anesthetic sculpts one area of the body while fat transfer rejuvenates another. All in all, the combination of treatments can refresh both the face and body.

Treatment is Customized

Fat transfer is developed around the needs of each patient. Some patients prefer that more fatty tissue is removed for better body contours. Some need or have very little fat available, so liposuction takes only what is absolutely necessary for contouring the face. As long as sufficient fatty tissue is present, patients may choose to harvest from a variety of areas, but, most commonly, the midsection. It may also be possible to remove fat from under the chin to sculpt the face even more.

As with liposuction, fat injections are also administered based on the areas of concern. Some patients wish to have only one area treated like their lips or cheeks, where others prefer full-face rejuvenation that smoothes and rounds everywhere there is volume loss with properly-layered fat cells.

Results are Natural and Long-Lasting

Though there are several benefits to facial fat transfer, the permanent results that can be achieved with treatment are among the best. It takes approximately 4 months to fully see how much of the transferred fat has survived. After this point, though, new cells are expected to remain indefinitely. As fat cells do, those that are transferred to the face may grow and shrink with weight changes. The overall results will also naturally change as age changes the structure of the skin and underlying bone and fat is further lost naturally. A benefit, however, of fat grafting is transfer of stem cells that can further rejuvenate the area and skin.

Fat transfer is facial rejuvenation with an added bonus of slight body contouring. To learn more about his treatment, call our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

Why Consider Facial Fat Transfer To Rejuvenate the Face & Add Volume This Year

Part of the aging process, we have learned, is the loss of volume across the mid-face. Volume loss also occurs at the temples and on the lips. This is one of the reasons why the lower face starts to look wider and saggy as we get older. In recent years, research has discovered that the best way to rejuvenate the face may not be to perform facelift surgery (at least not on its own) but to restore volume using some type of biocompatible substance. Off the shelf fillers do this with temporary ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Facial fat transfer is the technique patients choose when they want permanent results or need significant volume added.

What is facial fat transfer?

Facial fat transfer is the minimally-invasive procedure in which cosmetic concerns are corrected using fat from your own body. Skilled surgeons now also use fat transfer techniques to add or restore volume to areas of the body such as the buttocks and the breasts. More commonly, fat cells are used to give the face a better contour, to fill deflated or thin lips, and to smooth deep creases around the nose and mouth and under the eyes

The treatment is performed in the office using local anesthetic and mild sedation, when needed. There are three parts to the technique:

  • Harvesting fat from a part of the body where you have an excess using liposuction. Common areas include the abdomen and the thighs. If desired, donor area can also be contoured.
  • Purifying fat cells. To add volume to the face, we want pure fat cells. To get them, we wash what is obtained via liposuction. The fat cells are then transferred to a syringe.
  • Transferring fat. The face is treated with local anesthesia before we begin injections. Then, a tiny cannula is inserted under the skin and moved back and forth. With each pass, a line of fat cells is deposited. This technique layers fat cells in a way that achieves natural-looking results.

The visit may last approximately two hours, after which you may return home to recuperate. Most people can return to normal activities by the next day.

What can you expect after increasing facial volume with fat?

After fat transfer, you may experience some swelling and bruising. Discomfort is typically minimal, although both the liposuctioned area and the facial areas treated may feel sore and somewhat tender. This is usually mild enough to manage with over-the-counter medication.

What is important to know about facial fat grafting is that 75 to 80% of the new fat cells introduced to the face are expected to survive. What is present at 4 months is permanent. Because of the loss of some of the fat cells we generally overfill the areas about 10%. Because the transferred fat cells contain stem cells, over time the overlying skin and surrounding tissue may actually improve in quality.

Dr. Buchanan performs facial fat transfer in a way that maximizes success. To learn more about this procedure, call our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

Fat Injections for Facial Rejuvenation: What to Expect

Fat Injections  Highlands North Carolina

The idea of using fat from one part of the body to enhance another used to be tossed around in a humorous way. Through innovation in medicine, we can now look at this concept much more seriously. Fat injections, or fat graft or transfer, is now commonly used to restore youthful contours to the aging face, since, other than the results of gravity, loss of volume is the major contributor to facial aging. Fat cells can be injected into the lips to make them fuller, into deep creases around the nose and mouth or into the cheeks and areas around the eyes.

What Happens During Treatment

Fat injections require two different processes. First, the skin in the donor and recipient sites is cleansed and treated with local anesthesia. Then, a small cannula (a hollow tube used during liposuction) attached to a syringe is used to remove a predetermined amount of fat from a place where you have extra. This process is slightly different than traditional liposuction and does not typically result in a major change in the appearance of the donor area. After removing the fatty tissue, cells are processed to separate out the purest fat for injection into the face. The recipient site may be slightly overfilled at the time of treatment to account for natural fat absorption. The entire process can take a few hours.

After Fat Injections

There is very little downtime needed to recover from fat injections. Many patients feel well enough to immediately resume normal activities. However, we do suggest no vigorous activity or straining for 6-8 hours and care to not put pressure on the grafted areas for one to two weeks. The intensity of effects like redness, swelling, and bruising typically relates to the location and size of the treatment area. Usually, these effects fade over the course of several days. If a larger volume of fat is extracted, the donor site may be slightly swollen for a few weeks. At about four months post-op, we expect the final results of treatment to be apparent and long-lasting. The renewed facial contouring after fat injections can last a lifetime or as long as normal fat would last.

Learn More

Get the full details on fat injections and how they can correct the signs of aging on your face. Call our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

How Fat can Rejuvenate Your Face

 Fat Injection Highlands, NCHistorically, facial rejuvenation has required surgical lifting techniques. While procedures such as blepharoplasty eyelid rejuvenation continue to be popular, fewer people are undergoing full facelift procedures these days. Instead, they are choosing minimally invasive procedures that achieve subtle but beautiful results. Fat grafting is a prime example. We are pleased to offer this service in our Highlands office to help our patients feel better about their appearance as they age. Here, we discuss the various ways in which fat can be used to refresh the face.

What is Fat Grafting?

To understand how fat grafting can benefit your appearance, it helps to know the details of this process. It is the most natural and long lasting way to restore the fat that is lost over time and is responsible for much of the signs of aging. This cosmetic procedure may be performed in the office using local anesthesia to numb the area of the body from which fat will be harvested and the area where it will be injected. Depending on the amount of fat we need and the amount of body fat present, we may select the neck, abdomen, or thighs as a donor site. After the area has been numbed, a minor liposuction procedure is performed to obtain the necessary amount needed for injection. The tissue that is aspirated is processed to separate out the fat and stem cells from other tissue and blood. The prepared cells are then placed in a syringe and meticulously injected into the face to achieve the desired amount of contouring or wrinkle reduction.

Fat can rejuvenate the face by enhancing the following areas:


Rounded cheeks with higher cheekbones are an indicator of youthful beauty. With age, the bony structure may degrade. This exacerbates the natural loss of fat resulting flattening of the contours of the mid-face. The insertion of living fat cells across the mid-face restores height, projection, and triangularity to make the mid-face appear younger.

Forehead and Temples

Men and women over the age of 40 may struggle to pinpoint where their cosmetic frustration originates. This can be particularly relevant to the upper face, where the temples can hollow over time and the brow may drop below the bony ridge orbital rim ridge on which it once sat. Fat cells can be injected directly at the temple area to restore fullness to the outer area of the eyes. Injections can also be administered across the brow line to lift the brow without surgery.

Under Eyes

Non-surgical eyelid rejuvenation removing the hollows under the eyes has become one of the most common areas treated with a filler and can achieve outstanding results. Fat injections can achieve the same results but they last longer. Typically, fat is introduced to the area below the eye, not into the eyelid itself, unless absolutely necessary. When inserted into the tear trough it decreases the appearance of under-eye puffiness, and when into hollows it decreases dark circles.

Are You a Candidate?

Most healthy adults who do not have severe gravitational problems are good candidates for facial rejuvenation with fat injections. To learn more about this simple, in office procedure, schedule a consultation at our Highlands office by calling (828) 526-3783.

Fillers or Blepharoplasty: What is the Best Option for You?

Blepharoplasty Highlands, NCThe eye area is a point of concern for many adults. Several different problems under the eyes can cause frustrating problems, such as puffy bags, lines or dark circles. These can be caused by the stretching of the eyelid skin, descent of the tissues or loss of supporting tissues. You may have heard of filler treatment for under-eye problems like these and that there is a surgical procedure, lower blepharoplasty, that can improve the appearance of the under-eye. Both provide an excellent opportunity for a younger, fresher looking face, but it is likely that one is a better option for you based on your desired outcome, what caused the problem and your preferences. Here, we discuss details of blepharoplasty and fillers to set you on your best path.

Procedural Similarities and Differences

Blepharoplasty is an eyelid surgery that is performed as an outpatient procedure. It is best for those who have too much skin in the under-eye. In most cases, unless cheek elevation also needs to be done, the procedure can be done in the office with local anesthesia. Our blepharoplasty techniques are conservative, focusing on removing excess and repositioning tissue to achieve an excellent, long-lasting contour beneath the eyes. Lower blepharoplasty surgery can take anywhere from an hour to several hours, depending on the degree of change needed to achieve the desired outcome. Recovery is rapid. Sutures are removed in 3-5 days and most swelling and bruising resolve in 10 days to 2 weeks. You can resume most activities in several days.

Filler treatment is done in the office and can be done with local anesthetic if needed or a topical numbing cream can be applied to the skin. The treatment itself usually takes less than an hour, and all fillers we use contain a numbing medication so any sensation is minimized. They are ideal for those who have simply lost volume and have minimal excess skin. A filler below the tear trough at the upper cheek can restore volume to the area and diminish the appearance of both hollowness and puffiness. By smoothing the area, shadows and highlights are eliminated reducing “dark circles.” You do not need to take time off work or social obligations to recover from filler treatment. If, instead of an off the shelf filler, you opt for fat grafting, recovery is almost the same.

In some people, a combination of treatment may be the most reasonable. In fact, we have stopped doing cheek lifts and, instead, combine Blepharoplasty and filler or fat grafting.

The results of blepharoplasty last years. The eyes will always look younger than they would have had a blepharoplasty never been performed. However, the area will continue to age over time and further treatment may be desired again in the future. Fillers, on the other hand, are partially absorbed naturally by the body over time. This means that some of the filler is permanent having been used by the body to create new collagen, the building block of the tissues. Because the filler we use for eyelid rejuvenation is the longest lasting one available, it lasts minimally two years and has lasted significantly longer, in one case, well over 4 years.

There are pros and cons to both forms of eyelid rejuvenation and each has a specific problem where it is ideal. For further information and to find out whether fillers or blepharoplasty would be best for you, call our Highlands office at (828) 526-3783.

Face the Fat: Fat Injection Vs. Fat Reduction

Fat Injection Highlands, NCYou see the word “fat” and your initial reaction may be negative. Presently, this may be because our society is focused on general obesity and the negative aspects of fat. However, fat also can be beneficial. The 2 aspects may be combined.

At the Center For Plastic Surgery, we offer procedures that involve both adding fats to areas of deficit and removing it for a slimmer physique, both to provide a better appearance. So, what are these procedures? Let’s take a closer look.

Fat Injections

As we age, we gain fat in many places of our body, but our faces and hands generally lose fat and look older because of it. Our skin also loses collagen and elastin and develops fine lines and wrinkles made worse by loss of fatty support. Adding fat to these areas can reverse many of these signs of aging.

Fat injection removes fat from one part of your body (typically the abdomen, under chin, flanks, upper thighs, etc., places where you have extra) and then, after processing, injects it to alleviate lines, wrinkles or depressions or to improve contour. In fact, fat can be used anywhere a commercial filler such a Juvéderm™ is used. Although not all of the fat cells injected will survive, one of the unique benefits of a fat injection procedure is that results are typically permanent. Most areas injected are, therefore, slightly overfilled so the final result is close to what is desired.

Fat Reduction

In most instances, additional body fat can be unhealthy or contribute to poor self-esteem or both. Reduction of unhealthy fat involves dietary changes to reduce intra-abdominal fat. We generally refer to it as losing waist instead of weight. Once this is done, fat reduction of the external fat can improve your appearance and, thus, self-esteem. To help you do this, we offer two alternatives depending on the location and amount of the residual fat: liposuction and Zerona non-surgical laser treatment.

  • Liposuction: Liposuction has been used for over 30 years and is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. It involves numbing the area of localized fat and removing the fat by essentially suctioning it using very small tubes through small entry points.
  • Zerona: Zerona is a non-invasive laser fat reduction procedure requiring no numbing and without surgery designed to remove larger areas of fat or help jump-start weight loss.

Like with most things in life, there are both benefits and problems with fat. If you want to learn more about either adding it or removing it to improve your appearance, schedule your consultation at our Highlands office today: (877) 526-3784.

Thank you for your business over the years! Dr. Buchanan is closing his practice and the Center For Plastic Surgery's last day open will be January 31, 2023.