The skinny on fat filling

05:41 08 May in Dr Jonathan Toogood

By Dr Jonathan Toogood

I have been in practice for 10 years. In this time, I have seen many new surgical innovations explored by my fellow plastic surgeons. But the innovation that has excited me the most in the past few years, is the inclusion of fat filling as one of the tools to rejuvenate the face or body.

Plastic surgeons have identified that, along with the sagging and descent of the skin and underlying structures of the face, the normally occurring fat deposits in the face also atrophy (thin) over time. A traditional facelift will reposition the architecture of the face and deal with excess skin, but it does not always restore a youthful plumpness to the face.

Fat filling takes fat from one part of the body (knees, thighs, hips, back rolls) with liposuction techniques and then re-injects it into areas that need volume restoration. It can be used to fill tear troughs under the eyes, hollow cheeks, nasolabial lines, hollow temples, thinning lips and asymmetrical breasts. The procedure is also excellent for scar revisions and correcting indented scarring.

The benefits of fat filling are more than just the direct improvement in volume in the area treated. Liposuctioned fat is filled with stem cells. Patients have reported improvement in skin condition and complexion due to the rejuvenating effects of the stem cells deposited with the fat re-injection. The repairing and rejuvenating effects of stem cells are especially advantages to tissue damaged by radiation after cancer surgery.

Another benefit of fat filling is that the procedure is permanent, unlike hyaluronic fillers that need to be repeated every nine moths or yearly, resulting in increased cost over time. It is sometimes necessary to repeat the fat filling procedure a second time as some of the fat can be resorbed, but what remains is permanent.

Are you a good candidate for fat filling? If you feel you need volume restoration to your face or body, you can test the area by having hyaluronic acid filler. If you like the result, you can ask your surgeon for a permanent solution and have the same area filled with your own fat. The nursing team involved in a fat filling procedure must be specially trained and experienced in processing the extracted fat in preparation for re-injection. At Somerset Surgery, our nurses have extensive experience in this highly specialised rejuvenation/reconstructive aspect of plastic surgery.