Dr. Medalie is an expert in the art of fat injection and transfer. In the medical world, the fat-injection procedure is known as autologous fat transplantation or microlipoinjection. It involves extracting fat cells from the patient’s abdomen, thighs, buttocks or elsewhere and re-injecting them beneath the facial skin (The fat can actually be injected in any part of the body). Fat is most often used to fill in “sunken” cheeks or laugh lines between the nose and mouth, to correct skin depressions or indentations and to enhance the lips. Results tend to be permanent, but typically only 40% of the fat survives (even less in the lips).
In many patients the loss of volume can be as much a sign of aging as excess skin. For this reason, I almost always perform fat injection at the same time as face lifting. This “autologous fat transplantation” helps to restore the natural youthful curves of the aging face in a way that pulling never can. There is even some evidence that “stem cells” in the transplanted fat have effects above and beyond volume restoration. They have been hypothesized to thicken the overlying skin collagen and help reverse the effects of time, gravity and sun exposure. I have also used fat for breast enhancement and buttock rejuvenation.
How is it done?
Fat grafting offers profound applications for aesthetic and reconstructive use. In addition to “pushing or plumping out” the skin like synthetic fillers, it actually makes a structural change. Essentially, fat is harvested from one or multiple part/s of the body (abdomen, thighs, hips, arms) under local or general anesthetic, prepared and injected in tiny quantities into the face, breast, buttocks or other areas. Fat is living tissue and under right conditions will survive in its new location. It allows three dimensional augmentations of facial elements through redistributing volume. It can be used in conjunction with other fillers or Liposuction to optimize the overall result. Grafted fat becomes integrated into the host tissues and is undetectable after the transplant. In experienced hands, fat grafting is a safe and long lasting method of recontouring.
Dr. Medalie is an expert at fat injections and offers them in his Cleveland, Ohio office as an outpatient clinic procedure with local anesthetic and mild oral sedation.
Similar to collagen, “overfilling” is necessary to allow for fat absorption, so you will have a slight swollen appearance. Depending upon the extent of treatment, you may have redness, bruising and swelling in both the donor and recipient sites. In the case of buttock augmentation you may be placed in a compression girdle and asked to stay in the garment for 4 to 6 weeks. The buttock area will be sore for about 2–4 weeks and you will not be permitted to sit or lay on your buttocks for the first 2–4 weeks depending on where the fat injection was performed. Moderate to severe swelling is common but will resolve itself within 3 weeks. Most patients can slowly resume light activity following treatment but may increase to normal activity after approximately three weeks to one month. Swelling can last up to three to six months. It is very important to follow all post operative instructions carefully.