Everyone has a story about the first true sign of aging they saw in the mirror. Maybe it was a gray hair, bags under the eyes, or crow’s feet in a photograph. For many people, signs of aging include the emergence of sagging and loose skin, the downward descent of facial features such as the cheeks and eyebrows, and the loss of fullness around the eyes and cheeks.
Although surgical techniques are still used to resolve these problems, the concept of volume enhancement through the use of your own fat cells has revolutionized facial aesthetic surgery. The board-certified surgeons at Facial Aesthetic Concepts have performed thousands of fat transfer procedures producing amazing results for our happy patients.
Request a complimentary consultation to learn more about fat transfer and let us help you find the best procedures and treatments to help you achieve the look you want. We offer convenient appointment times and 3 locations in Southern California to serve you.
For over 20 years Dr. Gangnes has used his skill to assist me in maintaining a youthful appearance. By using his artistic talent and keeping up on the most innovative techniques, he enhances your attributes creating a naturally youthful appearance. The numerous friends I have referred to him have all been very pleased with their results. If you are considering improving your appearance.
Choose a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Not all doctors performing cosmetic surgery are board-certified. Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon is crucial when having a facial cosmetic surgery procedure such as facial fat transfer.
Dr. Richard Gangnes is a double board-certified facial cosmetic surgeon with over 30 years of experience. In addition to his education from the Washington University School of Medicine, he is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery as well as the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Dr. Shain Cuber is a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 20 years’ experience in the art and science of plastic surgery. His expertise has helped thousands of patients from across the country achieve their aesthetic goals and restore their confidence.
What Is Fat Transfer?
Fat transfer involves taking fat cells from one area of your body, preparing them so that they will continue to be viable after reinjection, and then placing the cells in an area of the face with depleted volume. The procedure is sometimes called autologous fat transfer because it uses your own fat cells. Fat is generally harvested from the thighs and redistributed into the facial areas discussed during your consultation.
To understand the fat transfer concept, think of the face as a three-dimensional structure that loses volume with aging. The loss of volume in the face is similar to a balloon that loses air or volume. As air is removed, the balloon becomes lax, then wrinkles, and eventually sags or falls. Similarly, the face loses underlying volume over time, mainly in structures and components in the subcutaneous layer just underneath the skin.
Facial volume is important because it provides support and structure for the skin, thereby keeping the skin tight around the cheeks, eyes, and mouth. As the loss of volume progresses, the skin becomes less taut, and we experience the development of wrinkles, creases, and furrows. Therefore, correcting volume loss by merely removing or pulling excess and sagging skin is not enough, and can sometimes actually lead to an unnaturally stretched appearance.
Common concerns treated with fat transfer:
- Lines and wrinkles
- Restoration of the skin’s support structure
- Fill in or “smoothing” of lines
- Hollow looking eyes
Fat Transfer Techniques and Additional Options
Our methods are based on a micro-droplet technique that achieves smooth, long-lasting contours with minimal downtime. Fat transfer procedures can last longer than any other injectable fillers available today. At Facial Aesthetic Concepts, we see a significant percentage of transferred fat cells surviving for years as they continue to produce soft, youthful contours.
Fat augmentation can be performed under local anesthesia with or without mild sedation. There’s no need to “go under” general anesthesia, and the procedure is typically completed in 1 to 2 hours. Commonly treated areas include the cheeks, lips, and areas around the eyes. The eyes especially can achieve significant enhancement after fat augmentation. The reason for this is the considerable importance of volume to this area. If you’ve been thinking about eyelid surgery or simply want to soften the appearance of your eyes, fat transfer may be the less invasive, low-downtime procedure you’ve been looking for.
Best Candidates for Fat Transfer
Fat removed from other areas of your body and specially prepared can be reinjected in several areas of the face to improve overall definition and volume. Typically, people want to improve one or more areas of their face:
- Cheeks: Sunken cheeks naturally occur over time as the tissue around the cheekbones begins to sag and deplete. You can get better definition in the cheeks with a fat transfer procedure, recapturing a much more youthful look.
- Lips: Fat transfer can work if your lips have thinned out over time or if you would like larger, more defined lips than you ever had before. Our patients appreciate that unlike lip fillers, fat transfer can last for many years before retreatment is necessary.
- Eyes: The process of facial volume loss affects some people by creating hollowness around the eyes, causing the eyes to look deeper set within the eye sockets. Other signs include the creation of a groove or so-called tear trough underneath the lower eyelid.
All candidates for the procedure will need to have another area of the body where fat cells can be extracted from. Typically, this is in the hip or thigh area. We have found that using one’s own fat to restore lost volume is an excellent method to bring back softer and more youthful contours. The newer techniques that we use at Facial Aesthetic Concepts seek to restore youthful contours by replacing that which the aging process has taken away.
What to Expect
Are you thinking that facial fat transfer might be able to give you the look you want? Your next step is to schedule a consultation. At the consultation, you’ll be able to discuss your personal goals and what ‘bothers you’ as well as learn more about the procedure and we will advise if you are a good candidate for fat grafting. Based on your cosmetic concerns, we may recommend fat grafting in addition to several other facial procedures to help you achieve a more complete refresh.
If, together, we decide fat transfer will provide you the best result you’ll be given additional information, including detailed pricing for your procedure, pre-op instructions, and general office policies. You’ll never be pressured into booking a procedure on the day of your consultation. We want you to be able to take your time and make the best decision.
If you decide to move forward, our coordinator will help you find a convenient date. You’ll be given specifics including where the procedure will take place, how to prepare, post-op instructions, and much more.
Fat Transfer Recovery
Autologous facial fat transfer procedures will require approximately 5 to 7 days of recovery. Some mild swelling and bruising can be expected during the first few days following the procedure. Cool compresses can help to minimize these effects but you should avoid placing anything frozen on the donor or recipient areas of the fat transfer. An antibiotic and an antiviral (for injections around the mouth) will be prescribed. The small sutures are taken out 3 to 5 days after healing.
Patients are usually able to apply makeup and shower the following day. Activities such as jogging, swimming, and gym exercises should be avoided for about 3 weeks. Overall, you should be back to your usual routine very soon.
Even if the procedure goes perfectly, it is natural for a certain percentage of the reinjected fat cells to dissipate over time. In clinical studies, around half of the injected cells survived long-term. For this reason, a slight overfilling of the treatment area can help you achieve the results you want for as long as possible.
How to Prepare for Your Fat Transfer
- Provide a list of all medications you take and your complete health history.
- Complete any lab tests or additional medical evaluations.
- If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking weeks prior to your plastic surgery. Smoking can cause complications with anesthesia and impede the healing process, so always be honest about your smoking habits. If you continue to smoke, your surgery may be postponed. Your safety is our highest priority.
- Follow all of our detailed pre-procedure instructions. These instructions will cover items such as which medicines/supplements to avoid, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, what to wear to your procedure, etc.
- Arrange for someone to transport you to your procedure and bring you home afterward. You should not need them to stay with you for long after you get home, but you won’t be permitted to drive home by yourself.
What to Ask at Your Consultation
The consultation is your opportunity to voice any questions or concerns you may have about having autologous facial fat transfer. Here are some questions to help you get started as you make a list of what you want to cover in your time with the doctor.
What are your qualifications?
All of the surgeons at Facial Aesthetic Concepts are board certified and have performed thousands of fat transfer procedures producing amazing results for our happy patients. Dr. Gangnes and Dr. Cuber combine more than 50 years’ experience to provide you confidence in selecting Facial Aesthetic Concepts as your practice.
Am I a good candidate for fat transfer?
Fat transfer can replace lost volume in the cheeks and eye area and augment your lips. Your surgeon will personally assess your facial anatomy, including skin laxity and wrinkling, and evaluate your health history to determine your candidacy for this procedure. Fat transfer can be an excellent procedure to combine with other facial plastic surgery procedures such as a facelift or eyelid surgery so that you can achieve a more comprehensive rejuvenation.
What type of anesthesia do you use?
In most cases, a fat transfer procedure only requires local anesthesia, possibly with mild sedation. If you are having fat transfer in addition to other facial plastic surgery procedures, we may recommend general anesthesia.
Where will you take the fat from?
Fat cells can be extracted from almost any area of the body. Typically, your surgeon will remove cells from the hip or thigh area. A relatively small amount of cells will be needed, so don’t expect to see a substantial change in the donor area unless you are having a separate liposuction procedure to improve the appearance there.
When will I be able to return to work?
Most of our fat transfer patients feel comfortable returning to work after 5 to 7 days. You may still have some bruising and swelling which can be concealed with makeup so that you do not feel self-conscious around coworkers.
Can I see before and after photos of other fat transfers you’ve done?
Absolutely. View our online photo gallery to see for yourself what results Facial Aesthetic Concepts has helped other patients achieve. We’d also encourage you to look at our stellar patient reviews so you can see how many of our patients are very happy with their results.
You will be provided with a detailed set of instructions to follow after your procedure. If you ever have questions or concerns during your recovery period, we are available to provide answers and schedule any follow-up visits if needed.
Some of the standard aftercare instructions include:
- Take medication as prescribed/indicated to minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of infection.
- Apply cool compresses as needed to the donor site and/or on your face where you are experiencing bruising or swelling.
- Keep your head elevated as much as possible to minimize swelling where the fat cells were injected. Sleep on your back with your head elevated for at least the first week after the procedure.
- Avoid putting pressure on the face or any activities that would cause strain in the areas where the fat cells were injected. This includes bending down, lifting more than 5 pounds, and exercising. You’ll be told when it’s safe to resume all your usual activities.
- Avoid sun exposure as much as possible for at least 6 weeks after the procedure. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher whenever going outdoors.
- If you smoke, you will need to quit at least 4 weeks before your surgery and wait to be cleared to start smoking again. Keep in mind that smoking and chewing tobacco inhibit your circulation and can negatively affect your surgical outcome.
- Contact us if you are experiencing significant discomfort after the procedure and the pain is getting worse.
Please use the entrance to our surgery center at 100C for all post-operative appointments. Ring the doorbell and our office staff will assist you. This entrance allows us to accommodate your need for privacy and comfort.
How are the fat cells transferred?
After being removed from the donor site, your fat cells are processed and prepared for reinjection. Your surgeon uses a microinjection technique, which involves using a series of small syringes to inject the cells into the target areas of the face. The injections do not require stitches but will be covered with bandages after the procedure to minimize the risk of infection and promote healing.
When will I see the final results?
Right after surgery, the treated area will appear bruised and swollen, which masks your results. It may take 1-2 months or more for all swelling to subside and for the transferred cells to settle. Fat cells that survive after this period are likely to remain in the area for many years. You may choose to repeat the procedure to obtain a higher degree of augmentation.
Why choose fat grafting over a dermal filler?
Injectable fillers such as JUVEDERM® are designed only to offer a temporary increase in facial volume. The ingredients in these fillers are naturally and harmlessly absorbed by the body over time. By using your own fat cells instead, you can achieve much longer-lasting volume enhancement, so you won’t need to come back for frequent retreatments.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation
When deciding to have any plastic surgery procedure, you want to find the best, most qualified plastic surgeon and surgical team in Southern California. At Facial Aesthetic Concepts, we use state-of-the-art technology combined with the latest medical training and techniques to give you the best results possible. We’ll provide you with a complete skin analysis and will develop a specific treatment plan to address your concerns.
Contact us online or call us today at (888) 713-7814 to schedule your complimentary consultation or to find out more about which face-refreshing options are right for you.