In the medical world, the fat-injection procedure is known as autologous fat transplantation or microlipoinjection. It involves extracting fat cells from the patient’s abdomen, thighs, buttocks or elsewhere and reinjecting them beneath the facial skin. Fat is most often used to fill in “sunken” cheeks or laugh lines between the nose and mouth, to correct skin depressions or indentations, to minimize forehead wrinkles and to enhance the lips.
After both the donor and recipient sites are cleansed and treated with a local anesthesia, the fat is withdrawn using a syringe with a large-bore needle or a cannula (the same instrument used in liposuction) attached to a suction device. It is then prepared and injected into the recipient site with a needle. Sometimes an adhesive bandage is applied over the injection site.
As with HA (hyaluronic acids), “overfilling” is necessary to allow for fat absorption in the weeks following treatment. When fat is used to fill sunken cheeks or to correct areas on the face other than lines, this over-correction of newly injected fat may temporarily make the face appear abnormally puffed out or swollen.
If a larger area was treated, you may be advised to curtail your activity for a brief time. However, many patients are able to resume normal activity immediately. You can expect some swelling, bruising or redness in both the donor and recipient sites. The severity of these symptoms depends upon the size and location of the treated area. You should stay out of the sun until the redness and bruising subsides – usually about 48 hours. In the meantime, you may use makeup with sunblock protection to help conceal your condition.
The swelling and puffiness in the recipient site may last several weeks, especially if a large area was filled.
The duration of the fat injections varies significantly from patient to patient. Certain areas such as the lips that are more prone to motion tend to undergo faster resorption of the injected fat than is seen in more static areas such as the cheeks. Repeat or touch up injections may be required to achieve a permanent result.