Also known as fat harvesting and fat transfer, fat grafting is a cosmetic procedure that involves the movement of the patient’s own fat from a fat-dense part of the body to the other part that lacks it.
This procedure is used to fill in grooves and other irregularities, primarily in the face – around the chins, temples, eyes, and lips. Facial fat grafting is now a well-established cosmetic procedure that was perfected in the late nineties.
Cosmetic indications for undergoing fat transfer include:
- Sunken cheeks
- Deep grooves from the corners of the mouth to the nose
- The disappearance of fat from the cheekbones
- Lines between the cheek and lower eyelids
- Acne scars
Nowadays, it is also being used as one of the most common methods for lip enhancement. Furthermore, fat grafting can be used to fill in all types of grooves and smooth out skin irregularities, such as those secondary to facial injuries or poorly performed liposuction.
Fat grafting vs. dermal fillers? What’s the difference?
While fat grafting is technically a form of a filler, it provides long-lasting and natural-looking results for smoothing out visible fine lines and correcting general loss of facial fullness, sunken cheeks, eyelid bags, and thinning features.
It can also be a good procedure to enhance facial contours, such as the forehead, jawline, lips and cheeks. Fat grafting is minimally invasive and carries no or minimal risk of rejection and allergic response.
On the other hand, dermal fillers are biocompatible gels made up of chemicals that can be injected into the dependent parts of the skin. This procedure can help temporarily reduce the signs of facial aging.
Dermal fillers diminish wrinkles, add volume, improve contour deficiencies, and plump facial folds. They are a good choice for addressing a few specific grooves or wrinkles such as lip lines.
Even though fillers works well on most patients, they are considered as a foreign object to the body. As such, there is a relatively higher chance of tissue rejection and immune response as compared to fat grafting.
What are the advantages of fat grafting over dermal fillers?
Fat grafting uses the patient’s own fat for cosmetic purposes. Compared to fillers, this procedure offers a unique set of aesthetic benefits shown below:
- Instead of using man made hyaluronic gel, fat grafting uses natural and living fat cells from your own body. The injected fat tissues integrate well within the existing fat in the target area for natural-looking and lasting results.
- The area of liposuction (from where the fat is harvested) can appear more contoured and slimmer.
- Fat grafting is more versatile than fillers because they can be safely injected anywhere on the face. This procedure can even be used as a safe and effective alternative to injectable procedures like Botox.
- Fat tissue contains abundant stem cells. These cells may help rejuvenate the facial skin in the target area.
How fat grafting is done in Singapore?
Fat grafting in Singapore consists of three steps – liposuction (extraction of fat), processing of fat (centrifuge and filtration), and transfer of fat through injections.
Depending on the fat volume to be transferred, both the donor and target sites are sedated by giving local anesthesia or complete sedation (general anesthesia).
Fat is harvested through small injections from the fat-dense donor sites (tummy, thighs, buttocks) where fat tissues are tightly packed.
The fat tissues extracted in microcannulas is centrifuged, sedimented and filtered. This process is done to remove excess liquid (oil and blood) so pure fat cells can be extracted for grafting.
The purified fat is injected evenly in different layers of the recipient area. Various grafting techniques involving cannulas and syringes of different sizes (milli, micro, nano) are used to re-inject the fat just below the skin.
What are the different types of fat grafting in Singapore?
For different anatomical indications, fat grafts can be modified into different shapes and sizes for a better outcome. The three most common types of fat grafting techniques include;
- Milli-fat– It is large parcel sized fat (2.4 mm and <). It is used when fat grafting is performed for deep fat compartment filling, such as filling the breast, buttocks or any other large size areas you may wish to contour.
- Micro-fat– This technique is used for superficial fat grafting. Thin injection cannulas are used to fill the superficial fat compartments, such as the the lips, chin, temporal regions, forehead, brows, cheeks, nasolabial folds and the back of your hands.
- Nano-fat– Nano fat technique is used more specifically to smooth out the radial wrinkle lines of the lips, superficial rhytides and scars, and dark lower eyelid rings. It is most suitable for patients with thinner skin who are looking for rejuvenation concerns on the superficial layers of the skin.
Who should go for fat grafting in Singapore?
A suitable candidate for facial fat grafting include;
- Patients with sagging soft tissue in the neck and face
- Patients with sunken cheeks or a loss of facial volume
- Patients who are looking for natural-looking and long-lasting results
- Patients who prefer fat grafting over synthetic dermal fillers and more invasive cosmetic surgical interventions
- A patient who’s looking for a cost-effective volumizing procedure
- Any patient with abundant fat on a body area they wish to have removed
How long will the result last?
A fat grafting procedure may require approximately a week to 10 days of recovery. Patients will experience some discomfort, bruising and swelling in the areas where the fat was harvested. However, the plastic surgeon may prescribe pain-relieving medication to minimize the pain.
Patients may also experience some activity downtime due to the liposuction. They are encouraged to do light physical activity such as walking around the house to help minimize the risk of blood clots and improve one’s healing.
The surgeon may advise a compression garment to be worn over the donor (liposuction) area for the first few weeks of recovery. The bruises on the donor area may take around a week to disappear. The patients can resume daily activities and return to routine after a week or two.
Consult our fat grafting doctor to learn more
If you’ve never done fat grafting before, it can be scary because you don’t really know what to expect. Speak with our board certified plastic surgeon and resident doctor, A/Prof Vincent Yeow, who has more than 20 years of experience to understand more for a peace of mind. Schedule a consultation today.