New statistics are out for plastic surgery procedures, with little surprises. Fat grafting continues to rise in popularity as the procedure matures and techniques sharpen. Board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Dan Del Vecchio and Dr. Mark Epstein discuss these latest trends with Dr. William P. Adams Jr. on the latest episode of No Spin Live.
Fat Grafting’s Rise
“I think fat is gonna take over,” says Dr. Del Vecchio, a field leader in fat grafting when it comes to buttock augmentation. “Facial fat grafting, breast fat grafting maybe not so much, but we all know about fat grafting to the buttock. There’s no better way to make a butt bigger than with fat.”
But the stats encompass all of fat grafting, and it has other notable uses beyond the buttock. Fat is helping restore volume in the face as well as adding nuance to breast augmentation, but are these procedures as powerful as fat grafting to the buttock?
“The face has a lot of players like fillers off the shelf, and patients want a couple of things,” says Del Vecchio. “They want immediate access to surgical information with smart phones. And they want minimally-invasive procedures that don’t leave scars. I think fat really serves that second purpose. When you can take fat from small incisions and deliver it with small needles, that’s a great operation for many different body areas.”
Volume: The Key to Aging
What surgeons and researches have discovered is the importance of volume when it comes to a youthful appearance. Whether in the face or anywhere else on the body, volume provides a plump, youthful look, rather than an emptied, hollowed-out appearance.
“Cosmetic surgery is all about changing volumes, either taking volume away from one area or putting it in another,” explains Dr. Epstein. “As we age, we lose fat, we lose volume in certain areas and gain it in others, so we’re creating our own recipient sites and our own donor sites at the same time. So teleologically it makes sense that fat would be the ideal thing to use because we produce exactly what we need, we just have to shift it to another part of the body. Our techniques are becoming more and more refined, and fat transfer is going to become more and more mainstream as we get better and better at it.”
What Other Procedures May be More Popular?
Surprisingly to these surgeons, facelift procedure numbers are still strong. This is surprising due to the fact that many non-surgical options are paving a new way forward when it comes to facial rejuvenation. “I’m surprised facelifting is still keeping it’s numbers relatively stable because I think it’s an operation that is doomed to be extinct at some point,” shares Del Vecchio.
The abilities of modern non-surgical procedures when it comes to facial rejuvenation:
- Eliminate muscular aging with toxins, like Botox
- Restore volume with fillers, like Restylane, Juvederm, and Fat
- Improve skin quality with laser resurfacing
The last major aspect of facial aging is skin tightening, an area that as of right now is still growing to be on the same level as surgical skin tightening. “Really the final frontier for facial aging is tightening skin, and there are some really interest technologies coming on the market that tighten skin without cutting skin and pulling it out,” explains Del Vecchio. “Once those technologies are really mastered and we can truly tighten skin, the facelift operation may really drop in numbers.”
Dr. Epstein is a frequent user of radiofrequency devices that tighten skin, and has found great success in many areas of the body. The face, however, is still tricky. “I use the radiofrequency technologies to tighten skin, not only on the face but on the abdomen, extremities, and other parts of the body,” he explains. “There are definitely indications where you get really good results and sometimes, I got to say, it even rivals surgically. However in the face, although we can get some tightening – especially in the neck area – I don’t think where we are technologically today is able to replace facelift surgery. Although with time, it’s probably going to happen, but the degree of skin tightening right now is not enough to replace surgery in a lot of cases.”
Statistics are important, but only tell part of the story. The best indication of what may be an option and suitable for a patient’s desires will ultimately come from a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. While some technologies are making incredible gains and showing powerful results, they are not just yet a one-stop shop.