You many lead the healthiest lifestyle possible: eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly but unfortunately, time takes its toll on everyone and the first visible place to show it is in the face. Being the first thing people see and focus on, the face begins to loose volume in key places, making people appear older than they really are.
Another aspect of aging is weight gain regardless of how hard you work on keeping in shape. These insidious pounds typically creep up in the hips, waist and thigh area and they are some of the most stubborn and difficult areas to address. New technology has made it possible to move fat from these unwanted areas to the face, resulting in a double-benefit for the patient: body contouring by removing that excess fat and a more youthful visage.
Recently seen on The Doctors, a fat transfer may offer patients who are relatively healthy but are beginning to see signs of aging on their face and body have an option other than synthetic facial fillers. There are many synthetic fillers available to add volume to the face and while effective, require several sessions to maintain as results are only temporary. The option of using the patient's own fat may allow for the regenerative stem cells in the transferred fat to offer longer lasting results.
Bay Area board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Daryl Hoffman, who offers fat transfer in San Jose says, "The advantage of using your own fat is that it actually picks up a blood supply and lives, so some of it is going to be long lasting as opposed to the off-the-shelf fillers that are going to maybe only last six months or a year. Fat can last potentially forever."
The fat transfer procedure is fairly simple - fat is removed from a donor site on the patient, usually an undesired area such as the waist, hips, thighs or buttocks and harvested to capture intact fat cells, which are laden with regenerative stem cells. While this procedure has been around for many years, it has only been recently that new technology has increased retrieval of more intact fat cells along with increasing the survival rate of transferred fat cells.
Typically, a large amount of fat is removed to ensure a sufficient amount of intact fat cells are extracted. As seen on the The Doctors, Dr. Michael Niccole, who performed the fat transfer on the patient, says, "We removed the fat from the waist and buttocks and she'll probably lose about an inch to an inch and a half. We removed a liter of fat which is equivalent to a bottle of wine." This fat is then filtered to remove any impurities, blood or broken fat cells to leave only the intact fat that may be injected back into the body.
Once the fat is ready, it is placed into syringes which can then be injected into other places on the body that the patient wants more volume. In the face, the first places to lose fat include under the eyes, around the temples resulting in hollow temples, over the cheeks, and the lips. These places benefit the most from filling as they replicate the image of youth by adding the lost volume due to aging.
At Dr. Grant Steven's Marina Del Rey practice, Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, where he offers fat transfer in Los Angeles, he says "Since 1983, when I performed my first liposuction case, women have been asking me, 'Can't you just take it from here, and put it here?' after their procedure," says Dr. Stevens. "And now, 27 years later, we've done thousands of cases where we take fat and reposition it on the body."
An added benefit of using the patient's fat as a facial filler is the results are often more natural appearing than with a facelift or with other synthetic facial fillers. The use of these fillers, while adding volume, may augment the natural shape of the face, making the patient's face look less sunken but less like herself. By using fat, results may appear more natural and best of all, there is no further maintainance required.