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Fat Injections

Fat Injections: Facts, No Filler

As a person ages, the soft tissue in his or her facial skin begins to sag. That sagging shows the effect of a number of different factors: gravity, exposure to the sun, and repeated movement of the underlying muscles. Such sagging can be eliminated by inserting a filler under the skin.

Fat can serve as soft-tissue filler. Fat injections can restore smoothness to an aging face. Fat injections change a face in a moderate but pleasing way. They do not create the dramatic changes that one can get with a chemical peel, dermabrasion or a laser treatment.

A patient who is thinking about getting fat injections should realize one very important fact: Injected fat is not permanent. It is eventually absorbed by the body. A patient who wants to maintain a smooth face needs to get repeated fat injections.

A surgeon cannot predict how long any injected fat will remain under a patient’s skin, before being absorbed by the cells that are in contact with that fat. Five different elements contribute to the staying power of any injected fat. Those five elements are the patient’s age, the patient’s genes, the patient’s skin quality, the patient’s lifestyle, and the site of the fat injection.

Before giving fat injections, a physician evaluates the extent to which the patient’s face is suited to the planned procedure. The physician normally wants to know as much as possible about the patient’s medical history, including any allergies or skin infections the patient might have had in the past, as well as any past injuries that were especially slow to heal.

A patient might approach a cosmetic surgeon about receiving a collagen injection, only to learn that he or she must have fat injections. Collagen, like fat, can be used as a soft-tissue filler. Collagen can be used to smooth facial skin.

Unlike fat, however, collagen is not a natural substance. While a patient’s body will not reject fat taken from his or her abdomen, buttocks or thighs, their body might well reject injected collagen. Not every patient is a good candidate for collagen injections.

A patient who is allergic to beef should not have a collagen injection; bovine products are used to make collagen. A patient with an autoimmune disease should not have collagen injections. A patient who is allergic to lidocaine should not have collagen injections.

While collagen is the most frequently chosen alternative to fat injections, it is no longer the only alternative. A number of other substances have now been developed to use as soft-tissue fillers. Like fat and collagen, these substances can help to smooth the facial skin.

Fibril is one such substance. Fibril is a gelatin powder; it is mixed with a patient’s blood and injected under the skin. Gortex is another type of filler. The physician inserts this thread-like material under the patient’s skin. Fibril and Gortex provide patients with two other alternatives to fat transplantation.