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Fat Injection

Today’s plastic surgeons offer a wide array of methods and materials to restore a smooth and youthful appearance to aging skin. Injectable treatments are one of the most popular methods, and fat is one of the most widely used materials.

Like other injectables, fat helps reduce or eliminate wrinkles. Fat comes from the patient’s own body, so there’s no chance of an allergic reaction. And fat can be used in higher volumes than most other injectable materials. This means that, instead of merely eliminating aging lines and crow’s feet, fat injections can provide a fuller, more youthful face with high contours and smooth skin. Injections of fat into the deep layers of facial tissue can virtually eliminate the angular, thin appearance that often accompanies age.

Common Questions

What are some of the most common benefits of fat injections?

Fat injections can significantly reduce or eliminate wrinkles and other skin imperfections. It can also give patients a more youthful appearance by reestablishing pleasing contours. Fat is the first choice of material when injections are needed in deeper layers of tissue or larger volumes (greater than 10cc).
However, injected fat may not last as long as some other materials. The fat is slowly absorbed by the body, although the amount of absorption is variable, and frequently hard to predict. Typically, more than half of the fat used in injectable treatments is absorbed with six months of the operation. Almost all patients will permanently retain some of the injected fat. However this percentage varies from patient to patient. If a significant amount of fat is absorbed, a second procedure may be needed to completely correct the sagging, wrinkling or other skin imperfections.

What will happen at the initial consultation?

During the consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss the changes that you would like to make in your appearance. He/she will examine your skin and facial structure, and explain the different options available to you. Once you’ve settled on an option, he/she will explain the procedure itself, its risks and limitations, the anesthesia required, surgical facility, and costs involved. Be sure to as all the questions you have about the surgery, and ask to see photos of the doctor’s recent patients, before and after surgery. Also ask for, and follow up on, patient references. Learning everything you can about your options, risks and benefits is the key to making an informed decision.

How are these procedures performed?

A fat-injection procedure is a two-step process that may require more than one visit to the doctor. The fat must be harvested from somewhere on your own body -- typically from the abdomen or hips. After it is extracted, it is placed in a centerfuge to separate the fat from surrounding tissues. The fat is then packed into a large syringe to accommodate its granular nature.

Because fat is a bit larger than other injectable materials, it is almost always injected more deeply into the skin. Volumes of up to 50-100 cc can be used to over the entire face. (Fat is the only injectable material that can be used at these larger volumes.) The injected fat plumps and tightens the skin, thereby decreasing (and in some cases eliminating) wrinkles, scars and lines from sagging skin.

How much pain is there?
The amount of pain during any cosmetic surgery varies from patient to patient. However, the discomfort associated with injectables is normally relatively mild. In many cases, fat injections are performed without anesthesia. This may be somewhat painful to patients, depending on the site of injection. For instance, the area of skin around the lips is one of the more sensitive parts of the body. Injections performed on the cheek, chin and eye area are usually less painful. If you are particularly concerned about this issue, be sure to discuss it with your doctor prior to the day of the procedure.

What can I expect after the procedure?
Most people experience some swelling and redness for the first 24-48 hours. Itching and mild discomfort is not uncommon. Recovery time will depend on the extent of the procedure. When larger amounts of fat are injected into the face, swelling may last several days to several weeks. Prior to your surgery, you should ask your doctor what he/she considers to be a reasonable amount of time for healing in your particular case.
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What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
Most patients who have had an injectable procedure are pleased with the results. The treatments can, in many cases, significantly reduce facial wrinkling and sagging. However, fat injections have a relatively short life span. Much of the fat may be absorbed within six months.
Almost all patients will permanently retain some of the injected fat. However, this percentage varies from patient to patient, and a second procedure may be needed to completely correct sagging or wrinkling.

Ideal candidate:
In general, the best candidates for are:
* Individuals with scarring, sagging or wrinkling on the face
* Missing some of the youthful plumpness or high contours on the face
* In good physical health
* Psychologically stable
* Wanting to improve their appearance
* Realistic in their expectations
* Aware of their options
The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for injectable treatments.


Recently a new method of fat injection has gained popularity. The procedure is called lipostructure. This procedure attempts to keep the extracted fat cells alive. The fat are taken from the patient’s body, and placed into the new area much like traditional fat injections. However, the fat cells are kept alive, and a blood supply is established to the cells. The idea behind lipostructure is that by keeping the fat cells alive, they will not be reabsorbed into the body and results will last longer. This procedure is quite new, is more extensive, and requires very specific training on the part of the surgeon.

Besides fat, a number of other materials are used for injectable treatments as well. In the United States, these include Alloderm, Botox and Collagen (Autologen). Be sure and discuss the different options with your doctor to determine which injectable material is best for you.

In some cases, laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion or a chemical peel will work better than injections – especially for smoothing very fine surface wrinkles. These procedures do not directly restore volume to the face, but they do eliminate the high points of the wrinkles by removing the outer layers of the skin cells. Any of these treatments can be used in combination with injections. Consult with your doctor for more information about the best options for you.

The costs associated with fat injections vary from procedure to procedure. To obtain the most accurate pricing, consult with a physician in your area to get the up to date costs for the procedure you are interested in.

Be sure to:
* Tell your doctor about any allergies you have (to foods, drugs, environmental elements)
* Tell your doctor about all medications you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription)
* Carefully follow any instructions your doctor gives you.
* Avoid aspirin and aspirin-containing medicines, as well as anti-inflammatory medicines such as Nuprin, Motrin, and Advil for two weeks prior to surgery. Also avoid herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, gingko biloba, some types of Chinese black mushrooms and other natural medicines and foods that may thin the blood.

The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

How long do these procedures take?
This depends on the extent of the procedure. Fat injections normally take between 15 and 60 minutes.

Where will the procedure be performed?
Fat injection procedures are almost always done on an outpatient basis. You should be able to leave the same day that you have the treatment performed. In more extensive procedures such as injections into the lips, cheeks, or folds between nose and cheeks, sedation may be required.

One of the biggest risks associated with injectable procedures is infection. This and other risks can be minimized by a properly trained dermatologist.

Fat Injection

Dr. Yan offers abdominoplasty, liposuction, gluteoplasty and other female cosmetic medicine in Maryland, and Virginia, including Bethesda, Rockville, Shady Grove, Potomac, Reston, Fairfax, and Washington DC.