Facial Fat Grafting


One of the most exciting and promising areas in plastic surgery today is the use of a patient’s own fat to replace lost volume in the face. Most people understand that one of the underlying causes of facial aging is a loss of volume in your face, particularly the mid-face. For years, plastic surgeons have been using synthetic fillers such as Voluma or Restylane to restore fullness and fill in fine lines and wrinkles. But now there is a new player on the anti-aging field — your own fat. The procedure, known as fat grafting to the face, is a total game changer when it comes to turning back the clock.

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Bruce Van Natta is an avid believer in trying new innovations and cutting edge techniques – only if they work. In his opinion, fat grafting is one of the two most important innovations to come about during his tenure as a plastic surgeon. And he’s been in practice for over 30 years so that’s saying something.

Fat Grafting to the Face vs. Fillers

Fat grafting to the face and fillers both replace lost volume. This is critical as we age. A full face is a youthful looking face. They can also both fill in the fine lines and wrinkles that often make you look and feel older than you want. But there are a couple of critical differences between the two. Fillers have a limited life expectancy. So, depending on how your body reacts to that specific filler, they will need to be replaced every 6-18 months. In certain patients, this may result in increased scar formation. Also, though completely safe, fillers are synthetic, and some people may have an adverse reaction.

Your fat, on the other hand, is completely natural. There is no risk of an adverse or allergic reaction. Also, the results from fat are permanent. But the most exciting benefit of fat grafting to the face is that fat is an amazingly rich source of stem cells.

Benefits of Stem Cells from Fat Grafting to the Face

Stem cells are like drinking water from the fountain of youth. Their benefits are just beginning to be explored. So, in addition to replacing lost volume, it turns out that your fat is a well spring of stem cells. And these cells have been shown to improve the appearance of both skin tone and texture thanks to the anti-inflammatory qualities of their growth factors. They can even regenerate blood vessels. Dr. Van Natta has been using them with cancer patients who have had head and neck surgery, and who can no longer produce saliva. The stem cells from a fat grafting procedure can actually restore function. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Are You a Candidate for Fat Grafting to the Face?

Great for both men and women, fat grafting to the face can improve:

  • deflated or flat cheeks
  • hallow appearance in the tear trough area
  • dark circles
  • fine lines & wrinkles around the mouth
  • deep grooves across the forehead
  • moderate neck bands and/or wrinkles

Fat Grafting to the Face Procedure

Dr. Van Natta will first remove a small amount of excess fat with liposuction. You don’t need a lot of volume for fat grafting to the face so even very thin patients can benefit. He then strategically injects the fat into your face. Since not all of the fat will “take”, it is vital that you see a surgeon who has extensive experience with fat grafting. In general, about 1/2 of the volume that Dr. Van Natta grafts will be retained. So, at first, you may look slightly overfilled. Don’t panic. This will settle in time. While you may need an additional procedure to get your best results, once there, you are done as the injected fat is permanent.

Recovery from Fat Grafting to the Face

Fat grafting to the face is done under general anesthesia as it is particularly challenging both technically and artistically. While everyone heals at his or her own rate, you can expect to be both bruised and swollen for at least a couple of weeks. But there’s no significant downtime associated with fat grafting to the face. If you have had an extensive amount of fat removed with liposuction in order to also improve your body contour, you may need to wear a compression garment and limit your activity for a few weeks. All of this will be discussed with you in detail during your initial consultation.

To find out more about fat grafting to the face with Dr. Bruce Van Natta at Meridian Plastic Surgeons in Indianapolis, contact us today or call (317) 575-0330 to schedule a consultation.