The practice of fat grafting is most often employed among cosmetic surgeons as a way to make the face appear younger by adding more volume, so the technique is well known and commonly used. But a new report in the latest journal edition of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says the technique is also viable for people with facial trauma or malformation.
Typically, a cosmetic surgery patient will have fat taken from the stomach or thighs and then injected under the cheek bones, for example, to produce more fullness in that area.
The new study looked at results for 100 patients who had undergone fat grafting to address structural issues in their face caused by injury or birth defects. Patients were questioned about the outcomes about two years after their original procedure, and the results were also assessed by a five-member jury.
Overall, 74 percent of the patients were satisfied with the results of their grafting operations, with minor complications reported in only 3 percent of the cases.
These subjective surveys rated the results at 14.5 out of a possible 20 points. Interestingly, the panel of 5 physicians who examined the results objectively, rated those results a little lower: 13.9 out of 20. The study showed that fat grafting works best in the mid-facial and lateral cheek areas, with lesser results on operations that involve the upper and lower lip.
Philadelphia plastic surgeon Dr. Lou Bucky notes that the impact of facial trauma can cause a loss of volume - and that using fat from another part of the body can sometimes produce a more permanent result, when done right, than dermal fillers.
Overall, researchers found that fat grafting is a simple and efficient technique for restoring facial volume in patients who have a soft-tissue deficiency, regardless of the cause.