Too often, gravity gets a bad rap for its aging effects on the face and skin. It is frequently blamed as the cause for wrinkles, creases and sagging and everything sliding south. Gravity actually has little or nothing to do with aging. The real culprit behind those creases and line is fat. More so, the lack of fat in the face.
It’s true. Facial fat volume is the key to keeping a youthful visage. Facial fat volume is at its greatest peak between the ages of 18 to 22. After that, the fat volume begins to decrease, and areas may sink and slide a little, and creases and wrinkles develop more easily.
For years, many individuals opted to have facelift surgery in order to fight against gravity and aging. While the facelift procedure does work to tighten the skin by lifting everything up, it does not fill in lost fat volume. Without fat volume replacement, patients were left looking skeletal and sunken in some areas as skin tightened and smoothed out against bone.
When fat volume diminished, the quality of the skin also changes. Elasticity and pliability decrease and the skin begins to look dull and dry. This situation makes a person look older than they are, which a concern for many women as they age, says Dr. Mona Alquali, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.O.G Alquali is a Clinton, Iowa, ob-gyn and cosmetic physician who performs facial fat transfers on patients in her practice. "When skin quality diminishes, fine lines, crease and wrinkles develop easily, giving an individual an appearance of being older than they are," she explains. "No one wants to look older – so they may invest in creams and over the counter treatments in an attempt to restore their skin from the outside in," she continues.
Over the counter creams and treatments do not treat the root of the problem which lost fat volume. "Fat transfer fills out and rejuvenates the face from the inside out," says Alquali. A facial fat transfer takes fat from another area of the body via a syringe attached to a small needle and injects it into areas of the face to plump up areas that need volume restored.
Unlike dermal fillers, fat transfer is long lasting. "The vast majority of patients who have a facial fat transfer only undergo the procedure once," says Alquali. "This is in contrast to dermal fillers than last between three to six months on average." This is also in contrast to face-lift results that show signs of age as the patient ages.
Another benefit that fat transfer has in comparison to dermal fillers is that because the fat is autologous, or comes from the patient’s own body, there is no risk of reaction or rejection. "Some fillers cause temporary side effects like redness or rash, but because fat is a natural body product, it does not cause a reaction."
Alquali uses facial fat transfers to contour areas like the chin and cheeks. Fat transfer is not limited to facial procedures and benefits other parts of the body as well. Some patients choose to have a fat transfer for their breasts, to augment and lift the breast them naturally instead of undergoing implant surgery.
Fat transfer does not require general anesthesia. Alquali simply numbs the site of the donation with a local anesthetic and also numbs the injection site. The method that Alquali uses for fat transfer leaves no scars, in comparison to face-lift surgery procedures.
Patients who choose fat transfer procedures also have a short recovery period in relation to those individuals who choose facelift surgery. "Recovery from fat transfer is 1-2 days, with minimal swelling and bruising, while facelift patients should expect several weeks of downtime," says Alquali.