Is fat a friend or a foe? Turns out fat may be getting a bad rap. While most of us are trying to get rid of the jiggly stuff, some plastic surgeons are embracing it for potential age defying properties and a more natural appearance. One of the first places to lose fat as we age is the face and that’s a telltale sign of aging. “As we age our face deflates,” says Dr. Bruce Van Natta. “First, you will see it in the eye area, particularly among older people, and it looks like a sort of hollowness.”
Fat Injected in Face, Buttocks and Breast
There are several different types of injectables available to help reduce the signs of aging. Among the most frequently talked about are Juvederm and Voluma. However, some surgeons believe fat is another good approach to add volume to the face. So while pharmaceutical companies scramble to find the best anti-aging cure — some plastic surgeons are re-purposing fat from another part of your body with stunning results. “A lot of women are lacking in the buttock area, so when we do liposuction or a tummy tuck we can take that fat — and place in the tush,” says Dr. Van Natta. “We can customize the shape of the breast, buttocks and face. It’s powerful!”
Pros and Cons of Fat Transfer
While it’s true that using your own fat is a more involved procedure, since a trip to the OR is often required to perform the liposuction, the results are long-lasting. And, there is the benefit of stem cells giving improved skin quality that doesn’t occur with off-the-shelf fillers which have to be re-injected periodically to maintain their results. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, the grafted fat needs to develop it’s own blood supply. Typically, half of the volume grafted remains long term. In terms of the breast, augmentation with fat can’t provide an oversized breast, however the results are the most natural possible since a breast is made of fat and glands in the first place— you are simply adding more fat into the mix. Occasionally, oil cysts and benign calcifications can be seen on mammography but there is no implant to worry about down the road, a device that may well need to be replaced. Scars for augmentation from fat are minimal as well.
Do Your Homework
It is important that patients be sure the person doing their surgery is board certified. The physician performing the procedure should also have significant experience in fat grafting and should be willing to show before and after pictures of their own patients to demonstrate their expertise in this challenging yet fruitful area of cosmetic surgery.