While liposuction (the surgical removal of unwanted fat deposits from certain areas of the body) has been around for many years, a procedure designed to re-introduce fat to the body (especially to the face as an anti-aging technique) is much more recent. Through the injection of tiny parcels of fat, structural fat grafting at our Philadelphia-area office helps our patients restore more youthful contours and volume to the face that are lost with aging. Women and men from all over are increasingly considering this method, as it is an alternative to dermal fillers and offers unique benefits that stem from a patient's own body.
The practice of Timothy M. Greco, MD, PC is limited solely to excellence in aesthetic surgery of the face, and he serves patients from Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, and out of the area. If you would like to meet with Dr. Greco to discuss cosmetic enhancements such as structural fat grafting, our Philadelphia-area office can be reached online or by phone at (610) 664-8830 to request a consultation with him.
For several years, the options patients had for facial rejuvenation were limited to skin resurfacing treatments with chemicals and laser devices (that were only effective on mild to moderate cases of wrinkles and volume loss), or to more intensive surgical methods of soft tissue repositioning.
But with further research and understanding of how fat atrophy can lead to reduced quality in facial structure, there are newer, longer-lasting, and more natural-looking effects that fat grafting can provide.
As we age, the fat deposits, facial skeleton, muscle, and connective tissues in our faces change, leaving skin sagging and unsupported. Structural fat grafting helps replace the lost fat, giving the face a plump, fuller appearance associated with youth.
In the past, fat grafting was controversial because the harvested fat was fragile and usually short-lived. In the late 1980s, a method was devised for harvesting the body's fat by using a small cannula. A delicate instrument was then used to re-inject tiny parcels of the fat into the face instead of placing it in large deposits.
Dr. Timothy Greco has been successfully utilizing structural fat grafting therapy for over ten years. It has become an important part in treating the aging face, including the nasolabial folds and marionette lines, which ultimately also complement a facelift result. Fat grafting has also become a popular technique for natural lip enhancement and cheek augmentation, aiming to combat thinning lips and age-related flattening or deflation of the cheeks.
Structural fat grafting (sometimes referred to as facial fat grafting) is now used by plastic surgeons as part and parcel of many facelift surgeries, to augment lips, fill in hollowness around the eyes, strengthen jaw lines, and fill in cheeks and nasolabial folds.
By using the patient's own fat, there is no risk of allergic reactions or rejections by the body (which is also why this form of fat transfer is known as "autologous," or self, fat transfer). The carefully integrated fat does not shift or migrate. In fact, fat grafting is often used to provide an additional boost of volume (which many in the world of plastic surgery dub "volumetric highlights" of the face) when reshaping or repositioning existing fat stores in the face alone cannot achieve the patient's desired results.
And while it may involve more effort and be more time consuming than using other injectable fillers, structural fat grafting can be more cost effective due to its long lasting results. While some of the grafted fat could be re-absorbed by the body over time, follow up with patients has shown that the results of fat grafting were still visible a year after the procedure. While some patients opt to repeat the procedure to maintain and further refine the results, the end effects are more durable and do last longer than most dermal fillers on the market.
Excess fat is removed using a liposuction cannula, typically from the abdominal area or medial thighs. Once it has been extracted, it is specially prepared to be in a fit state for injection, and then re-implanted in tiny droplets as part of a facelift or in a stand-alone procedure to augment and/or restore volume to a particular area of the face.
Results are seen immediately, though a slightly "overfilled" look may be present initially. The doctor understands that some of the fat will be reabsorbed by the body over time, and adjusts the amount of fat injected accordingly. Some temporary swelling (which may contribute to the "overfilled" look) and bruising should be expected.
Compared to many other cosmetic procedures, structural fat grafting is associated with a quick recovery. Patients may be advised to avoid excessive animation or massaging of their face in the day after surgery. Dr. Greco and his team will provide you with detailed post-operative instructions, which should be followed as closely as possible in order to ensure the best results.
While structural fat grafting can do wonders for rejuvenating the face, it cannot reverse the skin's natural aging process. For long-term maintenance of your results, we stock a curated selection of physician-grade, effective home treatment products, which can conveniently be purchased at our online store.
Though fat grafting is a surgical procedure, there are relatively few risks associated with structural fat grafting. In rare instances, asymmetry, infection, hematoma, nerve injury, seroma, discoloration, contour abnormalities, and other complications may occur. Patients at our practice are made aware of both the risks and the benefits their chosen procedure may entail, and are thus empowered to make well-informed choices that work best for them.
As noted earlier, fat grafting is often performed during a rhytidectomy procedure, more commonly known as a facelift.
Aspects of your unique facial profile such as the location, extent, and cause of wrinkles, your skin type, and your existing volume and facial architecture, may be considered. Due to the variety of these factors across patients, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach.
Keeping this in mind, Dr. Greco and his team may recommend a combination of surgical and/or non-surgical procedures (such as dermal fillers, laser skin rejuvenation, or chemical peels) to help you achieve your desired goals.