Thursday, October 15th, 2020
Many 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 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.
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.