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What is Fat Transfer (Micro Fat Grafting)?

Micro Fat Grafting, Fat Transfer, and Fat Injection are synonymous terms. They are used to describe a technique that utilizes fat from one part of the body to be used as a natural filler for another part of the body or the face, resulting in a more youthful and enhanced appearance.

Fat transfer is an important component in facial rejuvenation. A lifting procedure (e.g. Facelift) will re-elevate and tighten sagged tissues, but will not restore the fullness lost with aging. For this, Fat Grafting is necessary.

The most common areas for fat injection in the face:

  • Cheeks
  • Lips
  • Nasolabial folds (smile lines)
  • Marionette lines (corners of mouth)
  • Upper eyelids
  • Temples
  • Lower eyelids

Our Toronto plastic surgeon—Dr. Lawrence Tong—is highly skilled and experienced in performing fat injections and he can help you achieve your aesthetic goals with this innovative procedure.

Who Can Benefit From Micro Fat Grafting?

Patients who undergo fat grafting in the face can be either young or old.
Younger patients tend to use fat injection as a means for plumping an area that can benefit from volume augmentation:

  • For fuller lips
  • For the appearance of higher cheekbones

Older patients tend to use fat grafting to restore areas that have lost fat due to the aging process to correct:

  • Deep smile lines (nasolabial folds)
  • Deep lines at the corners of the mouth (marionette lines)
  • Hollowness of the upper eyelids
  • Hollowness of the lower eyelids
  • Hollow temples
  • Sunken cheeks
  • Thin lips

Dr. Tong also performs Fat Grafting in the body, such as for Buttock Augmentation (Brazilian Butt Lift) or Breast augmentation as an alternative to implants.

Issues to Consider With Fat Grafting

Fat is natural filler that can be used for augmentation or restoration. The fat is taken from your own body, so there is no concern about rejection or transmission of disease.

Fat can be harvested wherever there is excess fat; the most popular places are from the abdomen, love handles, and outer thighs.

Some amount of resorption (the transferred fat melting away) does occur.

Fat grafting has also been shown to improve the skin’s quality and texture over areas that have been grafted. The exact reasons for this phenomenon are not well understood, but are believed to be related to the abundance of stem cells that are found within the grafted fat.

How to Choose the Best Plastic Surgeon For You

Incisions for Fat Injection

Fat transfer involves two steps:

  1. the harvest
  2. the grafting

Fortunately, both steps require only very small puncture wounds in order to allow for small blunt needles to pass. Each puncture is less than 1 mm in size. Once the incisions have healed, they should almost be invisible.

Facial Fat Transfer Procedure Details

Dr. Tong performs Fat transfer to the face under general anesthesia or IV sedation. During the time you are under general anesthesia, you will be asleep and completely unaware of the surroundings. Dr. Tong performs your surgery in the CAAASF accredited private surgery centre, within the medical complex where his office is located at 199 Avenue Road in downtown Toronto.

Dr. Tong begins the Fat Transfer procedure by harvesting the fat. A small blunt needle is used to remove the fat in a process similar to Liposuction. Once enough fat is harvested (typically one to three ounces), it is processed and prepared for surgical transfer. Dr. Tong takes the prepared fat that is put into multiple small syringes, and meticulously introduces the fat into area(s) of need, placing tiny amounts at a time to achieve a natural, non-operated look. The cheeks, upper lids, lips, temples, and smile lines tend to be the most popular area for facial fat grafting. After the fat transfer, you are gently awakened from anesthesia.

Recovery after Facial Fat Transfer

You will be allowed to go home following surgery after the effects of anesthesia have largely worn off, accompanied by your friend or family member.

At home, sleep in a reclining chair or use multiple pillows to keep your head elevated when you sleep. This helps decrease facial swelling. Pain is typically mild. Pain medication will be prescribed and can be used during this time. You should try to rest and relax as much as possible during the first week. You may do non-strenuous activities such as reading and watching television. You may have bruising in the first 1-2 weeks and there will be moderate swelling.

You will see Dr. Tong one week after your surgery to check your progress. As the first few weeks go by, your facial swelling will subside. The majority of patients return to (non-strenuous) work at 7-10 days. Dr. Tong will likely allow you to start light exercise (e.g. walking for exercise) at 1-2 weeks after surgery. Avoid strenuous activity until 4-6 weeks after surgery.

Some of the transferred fat will melt away during the first 6 weeks. Beyond 6 weeks, all fat present will likely be permanent. The fat will change with changes in your weight. After the initial post-operative visit, you will follow up with Dr. Tong at 6 weeks, 6 months, and one year after surgery. Post-operative photos will also be taken at these visits.

Get Educated about Fat Transfer

Patients should have all the information about their surgery options before making a decision. Do your research carefully. Dr. Tong will make sure that you are informed about all aspects of the Fat Transfer surgery process. The initial consultation may take over 45 minutes to complete. Our goal is to educate you about plastic surgery. You will never be rushed or pressured to make a decision about surgery. We know that the educated patient will make better choices about their surgery and their surgeon.

To learn more about how Micro Fat Transfer Surgeon Dr. Lawrence Tong can help you, set up a Toronto facial fat transfer consultation with Dr. Tong by giving us a call at (416) 972-0999. No physician’s referral is needed. You can also let us give you a call; just fill out our contact form and we will call you on the same or the next business day.

Fat Transfer / Fat Grafting at a Glance

What the procedure does
Adds fat to an area to improve volume, soften lines and folds
Duration of the result
Length of time to perform the procedure
Depends on area(s); usually 1-2 hours
Type of anesthetic most commonly used
IV sedation or general anesthesia
Length of time off of work
7-10 days
Time to get back to exercise
6 weeks for heavy exercise
Pitfalls your Plastic Surgeon should avoid
  • Improper technique leading to increased risk of fat being resorbed
  • Placing too much fat (puffy face)

Dr. Lawrence Tong has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.