There’s a process known as fat atrophy that eventually overtakes us all. It’s a normal part of the aging process. And while fat atrophy usually becomes prominent in one’s 50s, genetics and certain factors related to lifestyle (e.g., smoking, sun exposure, etc.) can accelerate the process.
There is, however, a technique that directly and effectively targets this type of atrophy, called fat grafting.
“There are areas of the human face that are the main targets of fat atrophy,” said Dr. Jason Arrington, founder of Atlantic Plastic Surgery. “One runs from the cheek to the lower lip, which everybody has and which gets more pronounced over time, and the other forms at the corners of the mouth and runs down to the chin. They develop over time and are exaggerated by excessive or habitual pursing or puckering of the lips and mouth. Fat grafting has proved very effective in the restoration of these areas to a healthier, younger-looking state.”
According to Dr. Arrington, one of the many nice things about fat grafting is that no chemicals are involved. Actually, there’s really nothing other than you involved. Fat grafting involves harvesting your own fat from another part of your body and carefully introducing it into the area of the face that requires restoration.
Another big advantage is the longevity of the results. While filler products such as Juvederm, Restylane and Radiesse last anywhere from six months to a year, fat grafting is basically permanent – often requiring only a single treatment and only rarely two or three.
“When performing a fat graft, we will deliberately over-administer the volume of fat because we know that up to 50 percent of it will dissipate over the following couple of months,” said Dr. Arrington. “After about six months, what you see is what you get, and it will either be precisely the desired effect, or we will go back and tweak the volume ever so slightly to arrive at that effect.”
These factors imply another big advantage of fat grafting: cost. The chemicals required to make effective filler products are very expensive, and, as already stated, the results are only temporary, so you wind up going as often as twice a year in order to maintain the effect. Surgical procedures, meanwhile, are invasive, riskier and often include an expensive anesthetic component. In comparison to these, fat grafting is a financial blessing and the likelihood is that no more than a couple of treatments will be necessary in that facial region for one’s entire life.
At this point you may be wondering if all these fantastic features of fat grafting signal the demise of fillers and injectables (e.g., Botox) as part of the portfolio of cosmetic rejuvenative treatments. According to Dr. Arrington, the answer is a decided “No.”
There are parts of the face that are very ‘high traffic’ in terms of motion,” said Dr.
Arrington, “like the crow’s feet around the eyes, the brow and forehead, all of which respond better with a product like Botox, which quiets the activity in the area and, thereby, the wrinkling that goes with it.”
“Meanwhile, there are certain fine lines and creases in parts of the face that have less activity that may indeed respond better to fillers than to fat grafting or transfer,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to find a qualified, skilled practitioner, because they have the expertise to help you achieve the result you seek by the most cost-effective means possible.”
Fat grafting has also been used effectively in the rejuvenation of the cheeks, lips, lower eyelids and is often a key component of facelifts and breast-reconstruction procedures after a mastectomy. The procedure includes minor short-term bruising and swelling, and pain medication is typically not necessary either during or afterward.
To learn more about fat grafting, and to find out if it is right for you, schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Arrington at Atlantic Plastic Surgery today.