What is fat grafting?

Fat Grafting Raleigh and DurhamFat grafting is a surgical technique that harvests fat cells from one part of your body, processes those cells, then places them in another area of your body for a cosmetic benefit. The purpose of fat grafting is to augment or fill-in volume-deficient areas, commonly seen in the aging face. Many patients are familiar with dermal fillers (i.e. Juvederm, Restylane) which also add volume to deficient areas of the face – but are temporary. Autologous fat (from your own body), as opposed to dermal fillers, replaces “like with like,” and can be placed in many more places on the face creating an incredibly soft, natural, and youthful appearance not accomplished with fillers alone. Fat transfer uses your own living cells and therefore is long lasting and safe.

Are you a good candidate for a fat transfer?

Loss of facial volume is a common component of facial aging and fat grafting restores that youthful-looking volume. Therefore, almost every facelift patient is a candidate for fat transfer providing there is a good donor site from which to harvest the fat. Unlike cosmetic liposuction where hundreds or thousands of cc’s of fat are removed, facial fat grafting rarely requires more than 100cc of fat harvest. If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.

How is a fat transfer procedure performed?

Fat is harvested from one part of your body, centrifuged to purify it, and then selected cells are carefully reinjected with specially designed cannulas into the areas that need augmentation. Fat grafting can be explained as a three-stage process: (1) harvesting (2) purification and (3) placement, performed under sedation or general anesthesia in an ambulatory surgery facility.

Harvesting:  Dr. Zenn will consult with you to select a site for fat removal before surgery. During surgery, he will create a small incision in the area for fat removal and insert a cannula connected to a syringe to carefully extract fat (liposuction).

Purification: Once enough fat is obtained from the donor area, Dr. Zenn will use a centrifuge to spin the fat to remove non-viable cells, blood, and other impurities. Next he will transfer the selected fat cells to small syringes that will be used for injection.

Placement: The placement of fat is where experience and artistry set Dr. Zenn apart from other plastic surgeons. After the area designated to receive the graft is marked, Dr. Zenn will insert a small cannula into a small incision point near the site being augmented. He will then pass the cannula in and out of the areas to be augmented multiple times, using his artistic eye to sculpt the face. This process is repeated until the desired correction has been achieved. The sites of entry are so small that they often require no stitches and heal beautifully.

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What common areas are grafted with fat?

Areas traditionally injected with fillers are sites for fat grafting. Common sites include the temple, eyebrow, cheek, lips, chin, jawline, and even earlobes!

What will my fat donor sites look like?

If you have an area of your body with extra fat, fat grafting can be a win-win. Not only will you have augmentation of the face, you can also improve the area with liposuction (since only small amounts of fat are required for facial fat grafting, large amounts of liposuction may be considered a secondary procedure for an additional charge.) In areas of excess where no cosmetic improvement is desired, fat can be removed without a significant change in appearance, just some temporary bruising. Scars may result from the stab sites used in the liposuction but they are quite small (3 mm). Other risks of liposuction in the harvested area will be discussed in detail at your consultation.

The goal of Zenn Plastic Surgery is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural-looking results possible while offering a positive and easy patient experience.

To schedule a fat grafting consultation, contact our office in the Raleigh and Cary area at (919) 480-3885.