If you like the idea of a little facial plumping but aren’t so keen on dermal fillers, have you considered using your own fat?
Yep, your own fat can be used as a filler to plump up areas of the face that need a boost, such as the area around the eyes or the mid-face region, both of which can become sunken and hollow-looking with age.
You might see this procedure described as ‘lipomodeling’, ‘fat grafting’, ‘liposculpture’, or ‘nanofat’ or ‘microfat’ injections. These terms all describe the same basic process – harvesting your own fat from somewhere in your body and having it re-injected into your face to add lost volume back in. Because it’s an entirely natural substance derived from your own body, fat injections appeal to those who don’t like the idea of having a man-made substance like dermal filler sitting in their face.
There’s no chance of the fat being incompatible with your body (although, this isn’t something that should put you off dermal fillers), and you also benefit from the healing stem cells contained within the fat, which work to promote tissue regeneration from deep within the skin.
Fat or filler?
Fat injections can be an alternative to dermal fillers, but the two tweakments aren’t completely comparable. Fat injection is a semi-surgical procedure with an entirely different set of risks, and it requires much longer downtime and costs considerably more money than dermal filler treatment. This is all because of the first part of the procedure, the bit that actually collects the fat ready to re-inject – liposuction.
Fat injections themselves are considered safe, but liposuction is a whole different story. It’s an invasive surgery that involves an incision to the body – usually the stomach or thighs – and the use of surgical equipment to extract the fat. However, most practitioners collecting fat for injecting into the face will be able to gather enough of it using a slim cannula that is slipped through a small hole in the skin that can be closed with a steri-strip, so it’s not like you’ll be left with a gaping wound to look after. But you will need to follow post-procedure instructions carefully to make sure the fat-collection site is kept clean and the incision heals properly.
The practitioner then emulsifies the fat by forcing it repeatedly through a fine filter until it is in a fluid state suitable for injecting. Then, numbed with anaesthetic cream, the practitioner re-injects the liquid fat into the treatment area using injection techniques similar to those used for dermal filler to re-shape and re-contour as desired.
Fat injections appeal to those who don’t like the idea of having a man-made substance like dermal filler sitting in their face
Are fat injections worth doing?
Whenever fat is transferred to a secondary location in the body, it’s always the case that while many of the cells will take root in their new location, some won’t, and will die off before they have bedded in and established a blood supply. Even so, the effects of fat injections last for around five years, and in some cases it’s upwards of this.
The lipo part makes this a serious treatment that you should do a lot of research about and discuss in detail with the practitioner you choose. You want to go to someone who does a lot of fat injection treatments and is well versed in making the process as smooth as possible for patients. In particular, make sure you know how much fat will be taken from where – and whether this will leave the collection site looking weird – and what kind of downtime you’ll need to recover from both the lipo and the injections.
Alice had stem-cell fat transfer procedure in 2019 with Mr Tunc Tiriyaki. Hers is a pretty hardcore example because she had a full-face treatment involving multiple injection sites, plus the remaining stem cells were microneedled into her skin. She was thrilled with the results – a subtle re-definition of her facial scaffolding and a noticeable lift to sagging – so it’s definitely worth watching if you’re considering fat injections. I asked Alice for an update two and a half years on, and she said the results are still visible, albeit reduced. She’d certainly consider repeating it and will likely have an assessment after five years, though by then she may be a candidate for a full face lift as well as fat transfer – her words, not mine!
You can look for an expert practitioner who performs fat injections here.
The Tweakments Guide Takeaway
Fat injection is a much more involved procedure than dermal filler – the liposuction required, though minimal, brings extra downtime, discomfort and risks. But it does have its pros as a method of facial rejuvenation and it can give beautiful, long-lasting results if you do your research, take it seriously and find an expert practitioner.
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