Fat Transfers for Wrinkles

Fat transfers use processed fat from the patient’s own body to treat a wrinkled area of skin. The procedure also is known as microlipoinjection or autologous fat transplantation. Fat cells are removed by liposuction from the donor area – usually from around the navel or from the thighs or buttocks – using a small needle attached to a syringe. The fat cells are cleansed and processed, and then injected into the wrinkled area using a blunt needle and syringe. Because there is a fairly high rate of re-absorption of the fat cells into the body, the doctor will likely overfill the treated area.

The procedure often is performed on the hands at the same time since more than enough fat is usually harvested.

Why choose a fat transfer for wrinkles

  • Because the fillers are taken from the patient’s own body, there is a little chance of allergic reaction.
  • Results can last up to several years.
  • Results are usually soft and natural-looking.
  • Procedure often can be combined with other fat transfer procedures, such as hand therapy or a brow lift.

Wrinkle Treatment

Before (left) and after (right). Six months after autologous fat transfer to treat wrinkles.

Photo courtesy of Sabrina G. Fabi, MD - San Diego, California

What you should know about fat transfers

The injection of fat is done in an office setting under topical and local anesthesia. It takes about 20 minutes to remove the fat via liposuction. The procedure to inject fat takes five to 20 minutes, depending upon how many areas are injected. The target site may look overfilled at first until some of the fat is absorbed in the body.

Possible risks

  • Allergic reaction risk is minimal in microlipoinjection since the procedure uses the patient’s own fat instead of filler materials.
  • Bleeding from injection sites.
  • Swelling and bruising.
  • Redness and tenderness at injection sites.

Cost

Fat transfers typically cost several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on extent of treatment. Since most medical insurance companies consider fat transfers for wrinkled skin a cosmetic procedure, it is generally not covered.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will review the patient’s medical history. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. You should tell your doctor if you use or have recently taken:

  • Prescription medicines
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Herbal supplements

What to expect after the procedure

Following treatment, ice may be given to ease discomfort and swelling. Avoid applying firm pressure on the treatment area. Patients may experience one or more of the following reactions at the injection sites:

  • Bruising, which may last up to a week
  • Swelling
  • Redness

Some patients require maintenance treatments to achieve the best results.