Over the last five years, we have been bombarded with information, mostly non-scientific, relating to the transfer of one’s own fat cells into the face as the “cure all” for aging. Does this work?
First, in theory, this is a very natural and safe approach to move back toward the youthful heart-shaped face. The most youthful face will have natural highlights at the brow, cheek, and chin. The forehead and cheek complex should frame the eyes and mouth and be devoid of shadows or other unnecessary contours. Certainly the skin should be as smooth as possible.
We have moved toward volume restoration in the face during the last five years or so. Great! This was very much needed in many cases to avoid the overdrawn, tight, and sometimes unnatural appearance that can become an issue for thinner patients as we age.
Fat can be easily harvested without inducing a misshapen appearance at the belly, buttocks, and inner thighs. The cells are then carefully treated to remove oils and ruptured cells and transferred to syringes in preparation for placement. Specially crafted injection cannulas have been developed to allow precise atraumatic placement into areas of the face requiring augmentation.
The bright side is that this works so well. It produces a natural appearance that is safe, made of your own cells, and is persistent.
The down sides include additional costs, a trip to the operating room, and the need to overcorrect initially. Generally speaking, the final result will follow about 6-8 weeks out.
We don’t have nearly enough data to suggest that this is a “stem cell transfer.” Even the most advanced equipment has not shown that stem cells are actively exerting rejuvenation of the skin surface. Although both my patients and me have noticed this in many cases, it has not been scientifically validated in double blinded prospective randomized studies.
Patients are candidates for fat grafting if:
They require 10 or more cc’s (cubic centimeters) of volume replacement, and/or
The patient requires volume replacement that is being harvested for other purposes (ie, liposuction) and elects to have this placed into depressions in the face.
In summary, I love this technique and have had great results. Just like everything, proper patient selection and counseling are paramount to having a predictable and great outcome.
Real. Natural. Results.