Facial Fat Injections
Advantages and Disadvantages of Injectable Fillers vs. Fat Injections
Fat injection involves gently removing fat with liposuction from one area of the body and reinjecting the fat at another site, where it is needed as a filler. The fat is either rinsed with saline or centrifuged to purify it prior to reinjection. Most commonly it is reinjected into the folds between the mouth and cheeks (also known as the “parentheses” or nasolabial folds). The lips, cheeks, and other areas can also be augmented using fat injections. Dr. Goldman often uses fat adjunctively with facelift surgery. Buttock lifting often involves fat injection to increase roundness and projection of the gluteal area and is discussed on a separate page on this site.
What are the disadvantages of fat injection?
Fat cannot be donated from another person; the recipient’s body would reject it as foreign. The main disadvantage of fat injection is it reabsorbs to an unpredictable degree once injected, so generally 2-3 times the fat needed is injected to obtain the desired result. This means there is significant swelling and bruising after injection. This usually improves significantly after 3-4 days, but bruising generally lasts 2-3 weeks, and mild swelling persists for 2-3 months. Generally the result that persists after 3-4 months is considered permanent although gradual thinning of the fat occurs with aging in general.
How does fat injection compare to injectable fillers?
Fillers are used more commonly than fat injections in Cleveland because there is less down-time, cost is less and the results are more predictable. Fat is preferable when a larger amount of contouring or augmentation is desirable, like in the cheeks, or when a procedure like a facelift is being performed concurrently, so that down-time overlaps with recovery from the facelift.
Fat is potentially longer lasting and most often relatively large quantities are readily available.
What are the complications?
The most common complications include irregularities, asymmetries, and over- or under-absorption of fat compared to when using injectable fillers. A rare but significant complication is skin necrosis, which leads to scarring.
Fat injection is theoretically straightforward but technically requires finesse both in harvesting the fat and in reinjecting it in order to get consistent, smooth, and noticeable results. As with any procedure, using a qualified, experienced surgeon, like Dr. Goldman, is essential.
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