Fat grafting at the time of facial cosmetic surgery, such as a facelift or blepharoplasty, is a routine part of the procedure for many patients. As described below, that is because facelifting only treats one aspect of the aging process: sagging. The addition of fat treats one of the other components of aging: atrophy.
The aging process consists of three things:
The facelift operation improves the first component of aging: the sagging of tissues. The jowls and loose skin in the lower cheeks are lifting into the mid and upper cheek. The loose, excess skin in the neck is lifted up behind the ears and discarded. Although lifting the fat into the face will help the appearance, it does not totally restore the volume that has been lost with age. Transfer of fat from the abdomen, flanks or thighs, helps fill in the hollow areas that have developed with age.
In addition, depending on the shape of the face, the aging process can make some faces look somewhat severe and skeletal. The addition of fat adds the softness of youth that facelifting alone may not deliver. Heavy, round faces may not require the addition of fat but long, thin faces certainly do.
The third aspect of aging, changes in the skin itself, is treated with resurfacing techniques such as laser or chemical peel and is a subject of another blog.
Fat is removed from the abdomen, flanks, or thighs with a small cannula that is inserted through a hole approximately 2-3 mm in length, usually in the belly button. Fat is aspirated into syringes and then prepared for transfer. The fat is placed in small syringes and injected through even smaller cannulas into the face. The fat is grafted in small amounts, like threads, so that it will not move or form a lump.
Facelifting is the single most powerful, long-lasting technique to rejuvenate the aging face. But tightening alone in a face that has undergone significant atrophy, or previous facelift procedures, can result in an even more flat and severe appearance. Fat grafting provides a perfect complement to facelifting, adding the roundness and softness that is so characteristic of youth.
A board-certified plastic surgeon will give you advice regarding what combination of maneuvers would help your aging face.
Dr. Charles Thorne has been practicing plastic surgery in New York City for 30 years and would be happy to give you advice and care for you. Book a virtual consultation with Dr. Thorne today or schedule an in-office appointment to determine your candidacy for a facelift.