We transfer fat uniquelyRecently, we have learned a great deal about the aging face. While before, it was thought that the skin becomes more flabby or loose, now we realize that the deep wrinkle formations and hollow areas of the face are greatly due to loss of facial tissue. As we age, fat disappears from the cheek bones, mid face, chin, and lips, and seems to accumulate in the jawline and neck. Other conditions, like trauma, acne scarring, HIV infection or HIV medications can also lead to facial fat loss. Recently, a new technique has been developed to turn back the clock and restore lost fat. The procedure is called microlipoinjection (also known as fat transfer, fat injection, and fat cell transplantation). In this procedure, fat is gently removed from a fatty area, and then meticulously layered in the areas of the face requiring it. The fat graft then takes root in the new area and persists. The injection sites heal with virtually no visible scar. The procedure is performed comfortably and safely with local anesthesia, allowing for a quick recovery. Microlipoinjection can be used to sculpt facial contour and correct certain scars caused by trauma or acne. Accentuating the cheek fat pads can give the appearance of higher cheek bones, while augmenting the chin fat pad creates a strong chin. Microlipoinjection can fill mid face lipodystrophy from HIV or HIV medications. This three dimensional rejuvenation of the face has truly revolutionized the approach to total facial fat contouring. HIV, HAART, or a combination of virus and drug can present with a hollowing of certain parts of the face, with secondary accumulation of fat on the upper back (dorsocervical fat pad) and under the chin. This process has become known as HIV lipodystrophy. Some reports show an incidence of 2-60% in HIV patients taking protease inhibitors, while one study with a 5 year retrospective cohort showed a lipodystrophy prevalence of 13% in HIV positives taking protease inhibitors. Recent studies show that there is not a great difference between the different protease inhibitors when it comes to lipodystrophy, while previous studies indicated ritonavir/saquinavir as more commonly associated with HIV lipodystrophy. The median time to develop HIV lipodystrophy from time of starting protease inhibitors is 18 months.
The treatment of HIV lipodystrophy includes:
- Switching to another drug cocktail
- Diet changes
- Fillers Sculptra
- Face lift
Facial wrinkles and creases are part of the aging process. They begin to appear as the underlying collagen and elastin fibers break down and wear out. While this breakdown is part of the natural aging process, it can also result from excessive squinting, frowning and smiling.
Dr. Memar performs fat transfer, also called autologous fat transplantation or micro-lipoinjection, for patients in the Chicago area to plump up facial features with a patient's own fat. It is a popular alternative to other wrinkle treatments. Fat transfer to the face is a safe, natural, non-allergenic procedure designed to recontour your face and can provide definition to your cheeks and chin. It can also be used to correct facial deformities. Since fat transfer uses your own fat cells, you can never have an allergic reaction, because it's from your own body.
With fat transfer it is possible to have fat liposuctioned from your thighs and then transferred to any area of your body. Reinjected fat lasts longer in larger areas of non-movement, so it is very successful for the correction of sunken cheeks because this area does not move as often. Fat transfer can also correct atrophic aging of the hands and post-surgical and post-traumatic defects. But not every area of the body responds well to fat transfer. The breasts for instance, are out. Injecting fat into the breast makes it much more difficult to detect breast cancer with mammograms.
How is the procedure done?
Fat transfer is performed in our office on an outpatient basis. Both the area from which the fat is taken and the treatment site are anesthetized with a local anesthetic. Using a small needle attached to a syringe, fat is removed from a donor site where your fat is most tightly packed, such as your abdomen or your buttocks.
Once removed, your fat is processed to remove excess fluids and then reinjected using another needle, which is placed just under your skin beneath the wrinkle. This process may be repeated until the desired correction has been achieved.
Harvesting the fat cells for reinjection is often performed in conjunction with other procedures, such as liposuction, tummy tuck or cosmetic breast surgery. When fat is harvested during another procedure, it is often possible for your surgeon to harvest a larger amount of fat, then freeze and store your fat for future injections when they become necessary.
What are the benefits of fat transfer?
- Fat transferred to the face can last as long as three years.
- Fat transfer can be very cost effective when combined with another procedure.
- There's no chance of an allergic reaction.
What can I expect after my fat transfer?
After Dr. Memar performs a fat transfer, patients are up and around immediately. Any discomfort following the procedure can be controlled with medication. Some swelling at the treatment site may last up to 36 hours. There may be some bruising, which can be covered with make-up. Your initial injection should last up to 6 months. For results that will last years, patients usually receive 3 - 4 treatments over a 6 month period.