Whether it’s the Paris lip or the pouty lip, women and men like full lips. Unfortunately, such full teenage lips lose their curl and become flattened with natural aging, sun damage, and the effects of gravity. These effects can also be seen in the facial skin, as the underlying tissue that keeps our skin looking youthful begins to breakdown, leaving furrows and wrinkles. Fat transplantation, or other soft tissue fillers such as collagen can correct many of these problems. Through injection, tissue fillers can generate pouty lips, add fullness and recontour the face, and even correct small body deformities or depressions.

PRIOR TO THE TREATMENT

A complete medical history and a careful examination will be done in the initial preoperative visit to determine the general health of the patient. The surgeon will carefully examine the skin tone and facial bone structure and determine if other treatments may be necessary in addition to fat transplantation to achieve the desire look, such as laser treatment or a facelift. Photographs may also be taken before and after surgery to evaluate the extent of improvement in addition to discussing the procedure, type of anesthesia to be used, and possible risks of treatment. Preoperative instructions generally include taking certain vitamins and elimination of certain drugs to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding. Antibiotics may be prescribed for the days prior to surgery in order to prevent infection.

THE PROCEDURE

Fat transplantation can be done in the physician’s office, outpatient surgical facility, or a hospital, usually under local anesthesia or IV sedation. A site that has a thick layer of fat is designated as the donor site; this is usually the abdomen, thigh, or buttocks. Both this donor site and the recipient site are cleansed and treated with anesthesia. Fat is then removed from the donor site using a needle with a suction device and injected into the recipient site with a syringe. This is repeated until the desired amount of fat is transferred.

AFTER THE TREATMENT

Patients are usually able to resume normal activity after the injections although strenuous exercise should be avoided for a brief period of time. Swelling, bruising and some pain are normal and can be controlled with oral medication or cold compresses if necessary. “Overfilling” of the recipient site is necessary to compensate for absorption of injected fat by the surrounding tissue in the weeks following treatment. As a result, an abnormal puffiness may be seen in the treated area for the first weeks until the excess fat is absorbed. It must be remembered that fat transfer is not a permanent process and repeated injections may be necessary. However, physicians prepare for this by storing away extra fat cells from the patient, making repeated injections quick and easy.

RISKS

Allergic reactions or rejection of the transferred fat is not a problem in this procedure since fat is taken from the patient’s own body. Although, complications are rare in this procedure, they do exist and directions given by the physician should be followed.