As we develop through life, natural bone remodelling along with shrinkage and shifting of the facial fat compartments can lead to signs of facial ageing, such as:
- Hollowing of the facial contours
- Flattening of the cheek projections
- Lines appearing around the eyes and lips
- Lowering or sagging of the brows
- Deepening of the nasolabial folds between the nose and mouth corner
- Development of jowls
Loss of fat volume as we age can also affect the backs of the hands, giving a skeletal look. Restoring the fat volume to the face and hands can bring back youthful and more aesthetically pleasing contours.
FAQs about Fat Grafting?
Stem Cell Enriched Autologous Fat Grafting is a minor surgical procedure where fat cells are gently harvested from one area of a person’s body and then reinserted (grafted) into another body area. The procedure is also known as fat transfer, lipoinjection, liposculpture, or autologous adipocyte transfer. It is a method of soft-tissue enhancement for mild to moderate volume loss, restoring lost volume and lifting the facial contours. We can use this technique to rejuvenate the ageing face and hands, as well as to restore symmetry in younger faces.1-4.
Fat is considered to be the closest thing to the “perfect” filler and is the standard against which all other fillers are compared5.
Fat is biocompatible, meaning it is natural to the patient’s own body therefore is no risk of allergic reaction. It is cost-effective as results last longer6 than with manufactured dermal fillers and we are able to inject relatively large volumes – a standard facial fat transfer procedure involves approximately 15mLs of fat, compared to 1mL in a standard syringe of dermal filler. Fat cells are also rich in stem cell factors, which have added anti-ageing properties.
Recent scientific studies have shown that harvested fat tissue contains Adipose-derived Stromal Cells (ADSCs), which are multi-potent stem cells with significant potential tissue regenerative properties7. Ongoing worldwide research is being directed towards a greater understanding of the exact mechanism behind the regenerative properties of grafted fat in scarred skin or chronic wounds. In the context of aesthetic fat grafting, we will commonly see a knock-on rejuvenation effect on the overlying skin, with a reduction in fine lines and patchy pigmentation.
There are 3 steps to the procedure, which generally takes 1-2 hours, and is performed in clinic by our doctors.
Fat cells are gently removed under local anaesthetic from the donor site, using a specially designed manual suction cannula. The donor site is usually the abdomen, flanks, thighs or inner knee area.
The fat cells are then rinsed and separated from the anaesthetic solution using a sterile centrifuge technique, to leave only a concentrated solution containing fine fat globules and stem cells.
This fat/stem cell solution is then injected into the target area of the face or hands using a fine cannula (blunt-ended needle) under local anaesthetic.
An initial consultation with one of our doctors is essential prior to undergoing this procedure, and should be organised at least 2 weeks before the procedure. Our standard advice applies regarding the avoidance of bruising and you will be given a list of food stuffs and medications to avoid prior to the procedure.
The procedure is done under local anaesthetic and so you will be able to drive home following your appointment. For patients that are particularly anxious, we may offer a mild relaxant medication, which will be discussed with you at your consultation, in which case it is not advisable to drive after the procedure.
Immediately following the procedure, both the harvest and graft sites can be a little swollen and small bruises are possible. Any swelling should resolve within a week in most patients. Oral painkillers can be prescribed for a few days, although these are not usually needed. Most patients are able to resume normal activities the following day, although we advise avoiding heavy physical activity for at least four weeks after the procedure.
Fat grafting is generally a very safe procedure, with only mild side effects8,9. Common complications include swelling and minor bruising after the procedure. This is transient and should not last more than a few days. Some patients may require a “top-up” following initial surgery, as the body will naturally reabsorb some of the newly grafted fat.
At The Skin Clinic Fremantle, we use a “micro-grafting” technique with the latest technology in harvesting systems from AdipSculpt® to ensure that 70-90% of the transferred fat cells survive (previous systems have a retention rate of 40-60%). There are a few very rare side effects, which will be discussed with you at the time of consultation.
The cost of Autologous Fat Grafting depends upon the area being treated and the time it takes to perform the procedure. Facial volume restoration with fat grafting starts from $3000, whereas volume restoration in the hands costs from $950. Results usually last for up to 5 years and longer.
You can pay for your treatment with cash, EFTPOS, Visa, Mastercard, American Express (merchant fees apply) or zipPay
- Coleman SR. Facial recontouring with lipostructure. Clin Plast Surg. 1997;24:347-367.
- Tzikas TL. Lipografting: autologous fat grafting for total facial rejuvenation. Facial Plast Surg. 2004;20:135-143.
- Trepsat F. Periorbital rejuvenation combining fat grafting and blepharoplasties. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2003;27:243-253.
- Aboudib JHC, Cardoso de Castro C, Gradel J. Hand rejuvenescence by fat filling. Ann Plast Surg. 1992;28:559-564.
- Coleman SR. Structural fat grafts: the ideal filler? Clin Plast Surg. 2001;28:111-119.
- FontdevilaJ,Serra-RenomJM,RaigosaM,et al.Assessing the long-term viability of facial fat grafts: an objective measure using computed tomography. Aesthet Surg J. 2008;28:380-386.
- Tabit CJ, Slack GC, Fan K, et al. Fat grafting versus adipose-derived stem cell therapy: distinguishing indications, techniques, and outcomes. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2012;36:704-713.
- Kim SM, Kim YS, Hong JW, et al. An analysis of the experiences of 62 patients with moderate complications after full-face fat injection for augmentation. Plast Reconstr Surg 2012;129:1359-1368.
- Kakagia D, Pallua N. Autologous Fat Grafting: In Search of the Optimal Technique. Surg Innov 2014; 21(3):327-336