Dr. Sternberg

It’s that time of year again…New Year’s resolutions. Most of us have goals we will try to set and accomplish in 2018, and “get in better shape” usually tops the list. However, this year we should ask ourselves an important question, “should we spend all year in the gym trying to lose some pounds, or should we instead consider using those unwanted lipo-storage areas and just moving them around a bit?

It sounds silly, but the idea of using your own fat as a natural filler, has become more and more popular over the last few years. Fat grafting procedures now top the list for plastic surgery patients all across the world. From facial rejuvenation to buttock augmentation…fat is big in 2018.

Fat transfer surgery is not a new concept, and as plastic surgeons have gotten better at obtaining and purifying fat for use as a natural volume filler, patients are the one’s reaping the benefit. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not encouraging you to forego a healthy diet and active lifestyle, but there are really good options for annoying areas of fat that you just can’t get rid of. 

Here are some common questions we get asked about fat grafting:

Q: Where do you get the Fat?

A: That’s the best part. Fat is obtained from undesirable locations on the body through a gentle extraction system similar to liposuction.  For most patients, that includes the lower abdomen, flanks, back, outer thighs, and “bra strap” areas.  Once the fat is removed from these unwanted areas, the patient gets the benefit of better body shape, while the surgeon then purifies this “liquid gold” and prepares it for re-injection into the desired locations.

Q: What are the most common areas for fat grafting?

A:  The fat can then be meticulously placed into any location that needs more volume, lift, or fullness. Common areas are usually the face, lips, breasts, hands, and buttocks. Fat grafting can also be used as a nice addition to improve results from face lifts, eyelid surgery, and breast reconstructive procedures.  

Q: When should someone consider fat grafting to the face?

A:  If you have been happy with the results of facial fillers, now may be the time to discuss fat grafting with your surgeon.

Q: Can I have fat grafting at the same time as eyelid or face surgery?

A:  As an adjunct to eyelid, brow or facelift surgery, fat is truly the best substance imaginable when harvested and injected appropriately using reasonable quantities. Fat grafting adds youthful, long lasting volume to the face, while surgery removes the excess skin and improves drooping of the facial structures. In addition, there is an understood rejuvenating effect of the transplanted fat to the skin itself. Studies demonstrate that stem cells, which are naturally present in harvested fat, can have a dramatic improvement on skin thickness, collagen production and stimulation of new blood vessels. Because of this, the skin’s look, texture, and feel all improve. These are all key components of regeneration and restoration of facial volume and youthfulness. In fact, sun damage, smoker’s lines, prior injuries, scarring and pigmentation can all be improved through adding more fat volume. By restoring cells that are lost as a person ages, fat is a key element to slowing, even reversing the aging process. At Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery, all of our surgeons agree that the addition of fat to facial surgery can dramatically improve the post-operative results. Furthermore, the fat forms new blood vessels and becomes living tissue, in turn growing along with the patient. This may decrease the need for additional fillers over time as the patient ages.

Q:  What can I do about my sagging butt, old looking hands, and thinning lips?

A:   Fat, Fat, and Fat!

Q: How long will fat grafting last?

A:  Fat becomes living tissue when injected carefully and correctly into a new location. This fat then stays with you permanently and therefore provides a long-lasting result. However, only about 40-60% of the total fat injected remains behind and becomes permanent. This “fat survival” amount varies based on the characteristics of the tissue to which it is injected. For examples, areas that are scarred or that have received radiation, do not “take” as well as areas rich in collagen and blood vessels.  For this reason, we tend to slightly over correct the treatment area hoping for around a 60% “take.” In some cases, a second treatment is necessary 4-6 months after the first as a touch up procedure.

To learn more about using unwanted fat to your advantage, call our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board certified plastic surgeons.

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