TabanMD Eyelid Surgeon: Fat Transfer Explained.

If you’re thinking about eyelid surgery due to baggy skin, think again, a fat transfer may be a better option.One of the main factors that contributes to an aging face is fat deflation (loss) from the face. Think of this analogy: Imagine a balloon full of air (similar to a young person with full face). When you let the air out of the balloon, the balloon sags with wrinkles and folds. The same thing happens with the face. As one ages, there is fat loss which contributes to saggy fallen face with wrinkles and folds.

There are a variety of synthetic materials to restore fullness and volume to the face, creating a more youthful contour. Many patients are turning to fat lipotransfer, rather than repeated synthetic fillers. Fat has also the added advantage of being natural, along with being permanent. Furthermore, since it is harvested from the patient, there is no allergic issue, it is easy to harvest and the average patient has plentiful reserves. It is also more cost effective over the long run.

Procedure

Fat injection is also referred to as “Fat transfer” or “lipo transfer”. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia with or without sedation. Fat cells are harvested from the patient (from an area where they don’t need it) and inject it into an area on the patient’s body where they do need it. It is can be harvested from the abdomen, flanks (“love handles”), and thighs, through small incisions. Depending upon the amount of fat needed, 10 to 100 cc’s are removed. Harvested fat is carefully processed before injection. Some surgeons feel that rejuvenating cells known as “stem cells” are included with the live fat cells. The harvested fat cells are then injected into various facial areas, including brows, temples, around eyes (tear troughs), cheeks, lips, and nasolabial folds.

Recuperation and Healing

This is a minimally invasive procedure with little downtime. Bruising and swelling will resolve in 7-10 days. Of importance, not all the transferred fat cells survive. Usually about 60-70% survive over the next 2-3 months, and therefore more fat cells are initially injected that necessary. A “touch up” may be necessary. For touch-up injections, some surgeons will re-harvest more fresh fat, while other surgeons will freeze extra fat at the first harvest appointment and thaw out this fat at each touch-up appointment. Lumps or bumps are rare if injections are properly performed. If present, they usually smooth out over time or they can be dissolved faster with specific medicine injections into them.

Who Should Perform Facial Fat Transfer Surgery?

When choosing a surgeon to perform fat transfer to the face, and especially to the eyelids, look for an oculoplastic surgeon or a cosmetic and reconstructive facial surgeon who specializes in the eyelids, orbit, and tear drain system. Your surgeon’s membership in the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS) and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) indicates he or she is not only a board certified ophthalmologist who knows the anatomy and structure of the eyelids and orbit, but also has had extensive training in ophthalmic and facial plastic reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

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