Fat Transfer

Women and men at our La Jolla practice concerned about signs of facial aging can have their own fat used as a filler to create volume in areas such as the temples, cheeks, and around the eyes and mouth. Fat harvested from areas of the body where it's unwanted is an excellent alternative to synthetic fillers, such as Restylane® and JUVÉDERM®, that are also available at La Jolla Plastic Surgery & Dermatology.

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How Fat Transfer Works

Plastic surgeons helped pioneer the use of an individual's own fat to naturally restore facial volume. Fat transfer, which is sometimes called fat grafting, is also used in some cases for breast augmentation and Brazilian butt lifts. The fat transfer procedure is a 3-step process that includes minor liposuction. The 3 steps include:

  • Harvesting fat: Dr. Chaffoo uses a microcannula (a thin, fine tube) to suction fat from an area of the body, such as the abdomen or flanks
  • Processing the fat: We wash and filter the fatty tissue, removing impurities, using a sterile fat-processing procedure
  • Injecting the fat: Dr. Chaffoo then meticulously injects the fat cells into areas of the face where aging has created a hollowed-out appearance

We use a local anesthetic to perform liposuction, which requires a short recovery period and usually results in some minor bruising and swelling. Dr. Chaffoo injects the fat using small syringes with very fine needles.


Dr. Chaffoo

Triple board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Chaffoo provides exceptional results and patient care.

  • Microfat and Nanofat: 2 Types of Fat for Different Purposes

    Different types of fat can be produced during the processing procedure. Fat transfer using microfat is an alternative to using off-the-shelf dermal fillers such as JUVÉDERM. It's used to restore volume in the cheeks, around the eyes and mouth, and at the temples. Microfat contains certain types of cells called stem cells, which contain growth factors that are an essential element of the body's healing process. Stem cell therapy is often used for athletes who want to enhance the healing of injuries.

    Unlike fillers, which may last several months to a couple of years, microfat can last many years. Not all the injected fat survives the transfer process, however. Up to 80% of microfat transferred to the cheeks, upper forehead, and below the eyes can survive long-term, but when used for nasolabial folds, the lips, or chin, the survivability drops to about 50% because of the movement that occurs in these areas.

    Nanofat comes from filtering the harvested fat for a longer time, which ultimately destroys fat cells but leaves behind the valuable stem cells and growth factors. Nanofat injections provide a number of benefits, including:

    • Improved complexion and skin tone
    • Reduced discoloration caused by sun exposure
    • Scar reduction

    Dr. Chaffoo may combine microfat and nanofat injections to produce optimal results. The most common concerns he corrects with fat grafting include:

    • Under-eye hollows or bags
    • Flattened or sunken cheeks
    • Thin lips
    • Aged hands
    • Wrinkled décolletage

    Plastic surgeons developed these fat grafting techniques as a filler alternative to provide natural and longer-lasting results. If patients need multiple syringes of synthetic hyaluronic acid fillers, it's more cost-effective to consider using their own fat to both replace volume and improve skin quality and tone. This is a safe, effective, and natural alternative to commercial fillers using a patient's own natural cells.

    Your Next Step

    If you're considering getting fillers and want to learn more about fat grafting, request a complimentary consultation online or call La Jolla Plastic Surgery & Dermatology at (858) 997-0096 to schedule an appointment.