What is a fat injection?
Fat injections can be an effective way to reduce wrinkles, diminish acne scarring and regain a more youthful appearance. By injecting human fat harvested from your own body, cosmetic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center enhance facial fullness, fill deep creases, soften facial creases and wrinkles, plump lips and build up shallow contours.
Unlike other cosmetic injectables that are made from synthetic products, fat injections do not pose a possibility of an allergic reaction because the fat tissue is taken from your own body.
While fat injections do not stop the aging process, facial augmentation with human fat may help delay the need for more invasive procedures, such as a face lift, forehead/eyebrow lift or other types of surgery. Fat injections are also a beneficial addition to other cosmetic surgery procedures.
Am I candidate for fat injection?
The best way to determine if you are a candidate for a fat injection is through a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.
Fat injection is a good option if you:
- Are desiring large volume enhancements and/or require deep tissue injection
- Are physically healthy
- Have mild or moderate degree of facial aging
- Have specific, but realistic, goals in mind for the improvement of your appearance.
How do I prepare for a fat injection?
Fat injection is a more extensive procedure than the use of other cosmetic injectable fillers because liposuction techniques are involved. These techniques are used to extract the fat prior to injection.
While fat injection is a non-surgical procedure that is usually completed with local anesthesia, it may require local anesthesia with sedation if larger amounts of fat are being collected through liposuction methods.
Preparing for your fat injection at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center may include:
- Lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Taking certain medications or adjusting your current medications
- Stopping smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoiding aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding.
Patient before fat injection (left) and three weeks after fat injection (right).
How is fat injection performed?
Fat injection procedures are generally performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. The procedure usually takes 30 minutes to an hour, or more, depending on the patient, the volume to be injected, and additional procedures that are being completed at the same time.
The fat is withdrawn from certain areas of the body (typically the abdomen or hips), either by using a needle or through techniques similar to those used during liposuction using a special suction cannula). Once enough fat is taken from the donor area, it is then purified through the use of a centrifuge, which spins the fat and removes impurities.
The fat is then injected into areas needing augmentation through an injection needle that is usually passed in and out of the specific areas multiple times. This creates a ‘grid’ of threads of fat graft.
What results can I expect?
You will see immediate results from your fat injection, and the treated areas may appear too augmented at first due to swelling.
Over time, the swelling will subside, and you will usually be able to see your true results in three to four months. After this period of time, you may lose fat from the injected areas as your body metabolizes it.
In general, about half of the injected fat is absorbed back into the body in three to six months. Follow-up with your surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is the best way to ensure long-lasting results.
What is involved in recovery?
People who undergo fat injections can usually return to their normal daily routines soon after treatment. Bruising, swelling or redness in both the donor and injected areas are expected, but typically lasts only a few weeks.
The recovery period may be longer based on whether liposuction is used and the amount of fat removed. During recovery, you should avoid sun exposure and may wear makeup with UV protection to disguise and protect the effects of the procedure.
Is fat injection safe?
All surgical procedures carry some risk. Possible complications from fat injection include:
- Fatty cysts
- Fat embolism
- Seroma (pocket of clear fluid)
- Permanent skin discoloration from bruising
Why Choose Us
If you’re considering fat injection, look for a board-certified plastic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience performing these procedures. Consider going to a plastic surgeon who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as at a Cleveland Clinic. Ask your plastic surgeon about credentials, training and how many fat injection procedures he or she has performed.
Is this procedure covered by health insurance?
Fat injection procedures are not usually covered by health insurance unless it is being completed for reconstructive purposes. Ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain costs of the procedure and if insurance coverage is an option for you.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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