As we get older the fat pads in our face atrophy, or shrink, and the skin and soft tissues start to migrate downward, aging our face. Both fat transfer and injectable fillers can replace lost volume to restore plumper, smoother, more youthful facial skin and contouring. If you’re considering a facial rejuvenation procedure, how do you know which type of treatment would be best for you?
There is no single answer to this. Fat transfer and dermal fillers work somewhat differently, and there are multiple types of fillers designed for specific purposes. Ultimately, the best treatment depends on your skin, its condition, your rejuvenation goals and, to some degree, your personal preferences. With that in mind, let’s look at how fat transfer, also known as fat grafting, compares to injectable fillers.
In this procedure, Dr. Elizabeth Hernandez uses liposuction to remove a small amount of fat cells from a donor site on your body, typically the abdomen or thighs. She then processes the fat cells to purify them and injects them into the target area. However, fat transfer to the face is more unpredictable than fat transfer to other parts of the body.
Not all fat cells transferred will survive – as many as 50% may be absorbed by the body – so a second procedure may be required to restore desired fullness. Also, in some patients fat transfer results can last 5 years or more, whereas other patients see results only for a few months. Fat transfer generally requires a day or two of downtime to assist healing at the liposuction injection site.
On the upside, because this procedure uses your own fat, it is entirely natural. There is no chance of allergic reaction or rejection. Fat grafting also allows us to add more volume than we can using fillers, and it can be used around the eyes.
At Eterna, we offer an alternative to fat grafting called Renuva. Renuva is an injectable product, but unlike fillers that are made of ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, Renuva is an extracellular matrix made from adipose allograft that contains the same proteins, collagen, and growth factors as your own fat. It is injected into the fatty layer of the facial tissues to add volume by stimulating your own fat cells to enlarge.
Renuva is best suited for areas where only small amounts of volume are needed. We can inject it into all parts of the face, including the lips, except for the under-eye area. Renuva results are long-lasting and more predictable than fat grafting. However, Renuva is priced per syringe so it can be more costly than fat transfer depending on how much volume is required to meet your aesthetic goal.
Injectable dermal fillers
Dermal fillers are injected into the various layers of the skin to smooth out wrinkles by adding underlying volume. Some dermal fillers are thicker and designed to be injected into the deep tissues below the skin when greater volume restoration is needed. For example, we use Voluma or Radiesse for temples, cheek bones, chin augmentation and jawline contouring.
Injectables are popular with patients because treatment sessions take just a few minutes and there is no downtime required. Fillers can last anywhere from a few months to a few years (thicker products are longer-lasting), but they are all temporary. Repeat injections are needed to maintain results, so the cost can add up over time.
Dr. Hernandez will help you decide which is best
When you schedule a personal consultation at Eterna, Dr. Hernandez can examine your skin and face, listen to your concerns and goals, and explain the pros and cons of fat transfer versus injectables as they will affect your specific situation. Together you can create a facial rejuvenation plan tailored just for you.