Surgery For The Ageing Face: What Fat Transfer Can Offer
How can I make myself look younger? This is the age-old question (no pun intended). There are certain features of the face that change with age:
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Loss of volume
- Sagging brows
- Eye bags
- Jowls / excess skin around the neck
There are many treatments out there from conservative measures to surgery. The simplest thing you can do is to lead a healthy lifestyle – eat well, sleep well, and exercise. We also know that sun exposure and smoking are detrimental to health and are the biggest culprits when it comes to ageing the face. If you smoke, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek help to stop. Quitting smoking is more powerful than what any surgery can offer.
Botox and filler are a great way to minimise lines and restore some volume, but there is only a limit to what injectables can achieve. What about those deeper frown lines? The fine lines around the mouth? What can be done about that hollow look around the eyes? Fat transfer may be for you.
You may have heard about fat transfer as it is increasingly becoming an adjunct to facial rejuvenation surgery. Whilst a facelift can tighten up the loose skin around your face, jaw and neck area, it doesn’t address the volume loss that women experience with age. Common areas of volume loss include around the eyes, giving that “hollowed out” appearance, the temples, cheeks and in front of the ear. Volumising those areas can give a more youthful appearance.
Your own fat can also be injected into deeper wrinkles that botox can’t help, such as frown lines and the “Marionette” lines around the mouth. There are also other surgical options your surgeon may discuss with you. For example, if you have a deep frown line, the muscle that forms that frown can be cut (called a corrugator transection). For fine lines on the upper lip, dermabrasion may be a good option. When you see a plastic surgeon, he or she will assess your face and recommend the best option.
Fat can also be injected into your lips, cheeks or chin as a longer-lasting alternative to filler. You may have been considering a cheek or chin implant but not keen on the idea of putting an implant into your face. Fat transfer to the area might be a more acceptable option for you.
How does it all work? Fat is taken from your own body – commonly the tummy. If you don’t have much fat there (lucky you!), or you’ve previously had liposuction in that area, fat may be taken elsewhere – such as around the knees. This fat is then processed and refined before it is injected into your face. The area that the fat is taken from can be sore, but only for a few days, and well controlled with simple pain relief. You will just have a few small cuts where the liposuction cannula was inserted.
After surgery, your face will feel very tight and swollen, particularly if you have also had a facelift at the same time. This sensation will go as the swelling comes down over a couple of weeks. You may also feel lumpy and bumpy at first, but with time this will also settle. Initially you might feel as though your surgeon has overdone it. This is because not all fat cells survive after a fat transfer, and you do lose some of its volume, so the surgeon will over-inject at the time of operation. Once the fat has settled, it has a good, long-lasting effect for up to five years on average.
So, do you wish to look younger? Wear sunscreen, don’t smoke, eat well, sleep well and exercise. For those thinking about surgery to freshen up your look, fat transfer could be an effective add-on procedure to a face, brow or neck lift. Your surgeon will advise you on what procedure or combination of procedures will best address the changes you’ve had to your face.
This is a great example of the difference a facelift combined with fat transfer can make: