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Fat as Filler: Fat Grafting for Facial Rejuvenation

Transferring fat from an area of the body where it’s unwanted–such as the abdomen or thighs–to the face to create a more youthful appearance is a process called fat grafting. I often use this technique during a neck or facelift at my Toronto practice to put the finishing touches on the procedure.

Fat grafting–or fat transfer, as it’s sometimes called–can be used for other cosmetic enhancements, such as breast augmentation or a Brazilian butt lift. But it’s most commonly used as a facial filler, adding volume to specific areas of the face, such as the cheeks.

A fat grafting procedure involves 2 distinct steps:

  • Liposuction removes fatty tissue
  • A centrifuge spins and cleanses the tissue, isolating the fat cells from any impurities
  • Injecting the purified fat cells into the face using a specialized syringe

The amount of fat needed for facial rejuvenation is relatively small. Because the process involves these distinct steps, fat grafting takes longer than a treatment with synthetic fillers. Unless the technique is part of a facelift or neck lift, fat grafting for facial rejuvenation is usually performed using a local anesthetic.

Why use fat grafting instead of dermal fillers?

First, it’s not really an either/or choice. Some areas respond better when using fillers, such as JUVÉDERM® or Restylane® products, and I may combine them with fat grafting. Fat grafting, when performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, can produce excellent, natural-looking results that are permanent. The results provided by fillers typically last between 9 months and 2 years, depending on the filler used.

If you’re considering nonsurgical facial rejuvenation, I encourage you to visit the Micro Fat Grafting page to learn more about the technique and how I use it.

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Derek Ford, MD FRCSC

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Derek T. Ford, MD, FRCSC