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Are Fat Injections Really Better Than Fillers?

Posted: 12:00 p.m. Friday, September 18, 2015

By Anita Mandal, M.D.
Question: I read that fat injections are the best solution for facial hollows. If that is true, why aren’t fat injections more popular than facial fillers?

Answer: Don’t believe everything you hear. With so many doctors, not board certified in plastic surgery, entering the cosmetic industry, medical advice is more skewed than ever. In theory, fat injections sound ideal for facial volumization when you hear that the fat comes from your body, lasts a long time and has fewer maintenance costs.

Fat transfer, however, has important drawbacks. Despite fat being your own tissue, even with state-of-the-art techniques, only about half of the fat injected actually remains. Thus, multiple treatments are often needed to achieve desired results. Also, as 50 percent of the fat injected goes away, it can resorb unevenly and cause asymmetries. Moreover, fat is not designed for treatment of fine lines and wrinkles.

An important yet overlooked issue with fat transfer is that many thin and normal weight individuals have limited body fat stores, making them poorer candidates for fat grafting. In contrast, a heavy or overweight person with greater body fat stores may have more facial fat, but has even less facial hollowing that requires correction.

It is for these reasons that fat transfer is still not the primary player in facial volumization. Claims that fat is superior due to its “natural” origin are inaccurate. Both Bellafil and Sculptra work by stimulating your body’s own collagen. The volume restoration from these fillers also comes from your body’s natural tissues but does not require the surgery or downtime seen with fat grafts. Further, there is no data to suggest that the results from fat transfer look more natural than those of Bellafil or other fillers.

If you are considering fat transfer, find a surgeon who is thoroughly knowledged on facial anatomy and facial aesthetics. Be sure you have sufficient fat stores. Also, ask about your doctor’s comparative experience with other injectable fillers. With the FDA’s recent approval of Bellafil studied over 5 years in over 1,000 patients, Bellafil is positioned to play a superior role in facial volumization without the downsides of fat transfer.

It is a misconception to think you should only seek a surgeon for surgery. Facial Plastic Surgeons have in-depth knowledge of facial anatomy and expertise in both non-surgical and surgical facial aesthetic treatments. Each time you have a non-surgical cosmetic procedure by a less qualified doctor, you increase your risk of complications and poorer results. When it comes to your face, why would you consider less than a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon? Log on to ABFPRS.org.

 

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