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Cosmetic Surgery: Fat Transfer

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Targets: Areas that need “plumping up,” such as hollow cheeks, the creases that run from the nose to mouth or around the lips. (Fat provides structure, which is why our faces sag as we age and lose the youthful apple in our cheeks.) Chang also uses fat transfers to buoy up the skin between the bones in the hand, which can get ropey over time. Consider it a natural alternative to fillers. “I joke with patients that they don’t have to buy their own fat,” Malek says. He particularly likes it for the trough that develops under the eye.

Procedure: Fat is removed from a donor site, such as the thigh, buttock or lower belly. After being cleaned, it’s implanted into another area, such as the cheek or lips. 

Time: It depends on the extent of the treated area, but “in an hour, you can get a tremendous improvement by adding volume to the face,” Lonergan says.

Recovery: Possible bruising, soreness and swelling for up to 10 days. Because the fat comes from your own body, there’s less chance of complications. The body, especially the lip area, will likely reabsorb some of the fat. The amount varies from patient to patient, and the placement is critical, says Dr. Mehdi Balakhani, who has a Wilmington practice. The fat requires a good blood supply.

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