Autologous Fat Grafting for Cheek Augmentation

A person may undergo cheek augmentation when they want their face to appear more balanced or fuller looking. Depending on the individual undergoing it, augmentation may be undergone to “build up” the cheek area which tends to take on a deflated appearance as individuals age.

As each of us grows older, skin that was at one time, taunt and firm, begins to loosen and sag. Cosmetic surgery can be used to correct this or at least improve its appearance. Autologous fat grafting is one option available to doctors to make the cheeks and thus the face, look more youthful and full.

 Autologous fat grafting helps to fill out the cheeks. It changes the proportions of the face, hopefully, for the better. Fat grafting isn’t new. It has been used for some time but for other purposes, such as improving the appearance of deformities and/or injuries. As early as 1893, it was used to fix soft tissue defects.

Autologous fat grafting for the purpose of cheek augmentation is growing in popularity. In the past, bone grafts and silicone implants were the primary ways cheek augmentation was performed.

Today, in addition to autolgous fat grafting, surgeons may use implants made from materials including and in addition to silicone. Injectable fillers are used as well.

Autologous fat grafting is referred to by other names. Common ones include fat grafting, fat transfer, free fat transfer, lipostructure, liposculpture, micro-lipo injection, volume restoration, fat transplantation and fat injections.

To perform an autologous fat grafting procedure, a physician will first harvest fat from another part of the patient’s body. This will be from a body part which has surplus fat cells. The fat is extracted and re-implanted into the cheeks.

There are many benefits associated with this type of procedure, for instance, it is not incredibly invasive and the use of a person’s own fat makes it completely natural. The results are also natural looking.

Implants and injectables are both made with foreign materials and there are specific risks involved with their use, that a person doesn’t have to worry about when their own fat is used.

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Autologous fat transfer may be a good option for individuals who want to restore lost facial volume. There are, however, some conditions. The individual undergoing the procedure must be in good health and have an adequate amount of fat for transferring.

Fat cells are taken from the lower part of the patient’s body via liposuction. The thighs, stomach and hips are most often used. The doctor will process the fat and transfer it via a syringe (or multiple ones) and into the cheeks.

Both men and women can and do undergo autologous fat transfer for cheek augmentation. While older individuals may be more inclined to have the procedure done in order to restore fullness and volume, anyone unhappy with the prominence of their cheek may choose to undergo it.

An autologous fat grafting cheek augmentation can be a very successful procedure when performed correctly. When it is not, the results can be aesthetically unappealing. The transferred fat can become hard and lumpy. Symmetry can be off as well.

Procedure

An autologous fat grafting cheek augmentation is an outpatient procedure. Immediately following the procedure, patients are allowed to return to their homes.

The process of autologous fat grafting cheek augmentation is a pretty simple one, though it requires a great deal of skill and know-how.

Step 1: Application of the Anesthetic- To begin, the facial area is numbed with a local anesthetic.

Step 2: Harvesting of the fat- The doctor will then harvest fat for the augmentation. Fat may be taken from the thighs, abdomen or hips.

Step 3: Processing of the fat- The harvested fat is then processed. This involves separating and than extraction the fat cells from the other fluids found in the fat.

Step 4: Injection- The harvested fat cells are then injected into the cheeks.

When done correctly and appropriately, the result is a more youthful, attractive appearance.

Read more details about PRP for fat transfers.

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Recovery

After autologous fat transfer cheek augmentation, a person may experience some swelling, redness and bruising at the area where the fat was harvested. It should subside after 1 to 7 days.

A compression garment will be placed around the face and a patient will be instructed to take it easy for about a week. The procedure maybe slightly painful but it shouldn’t be extremely so. A pain reliever may be prescribed by the patient’s doctor or they may be instructed to take Tylenol after the procedure.

Cost

The cost of fat grafting will vary. The experience and reputation of the doctor will effect pricing as well as his or her location. Doctors based on the East and West coasts tend to charge more. However, on average, a person may pay as little as $1,500 and as much as $6,000, though $3,700 is about normal.

Complications

One of the most discussed complications associated with autologous fat grafting for cheek augmentation is the re-absorption of the fat. A certain amount of it will reabsorb into the body.

Only a portion of it will remain permanently, though typically, a significant enough amount that a person is pleased with the results. The more up-to-date procedures tend to be longer lasting.

Therefore, an individual concerned about re-absorption should discuss this with their doctor and ask which method(s) would decrease the likelihood of this occurring or at least minimize re-absorption as much as possible.

Other possible complications include lumpiness and hardening of the injected fat. Though this procedure is noted for its naturalness (a patient’s own fat is used), that fat may become lumpy and/or hard.

Pain and discomfort may occur as a result of the aforementioned and fat necrosis. There is also a risk of the patient developing cysts at the injection site.

Hematoma, nerve damage, bleeding, infection and even the development of pulmonary embolism are additional risks a person assumes when undergoing an autologous fat grafting cheek augmentation.

An unattractive appearance is also a risk. If the procedure is not done correctly, a person’s face may appear swollen, unnatural and/or lack symmetry.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  1. Are you properly licensed?
  2. How much experience do you have with this type of procedure?
  3. How successful has it been for your patients? How long do the effects last?
  4. Do you have any before and after pictures I can see?
  5. Am I a good candidate for this procedure? Why or why not?

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