A new technique known as fat rebalancing offers patients the opportunity to use their own fat to literally turn back the hands of time and restore their youthful appearance.
This procedure can be done much earlier than a facelift to affect minor aging corrections over time.
This procedure also provides a reasonable alternative for those who do not want to endure the surgical and financial demands of a facelift.
On a young face, the framework has very smooth, ample distribution of fat and each area blends into the neighboring area seamlessly.
As the face ages, the fat compartments change shape to form "hills and valleys."
The "hills" are the areas where fat has accumulated, such as the jowl region and under the chin.
The "valleys" occur around the eyes and around the jaw line.
These are all areas where fat has diminished with aging.
This hill and valley topography unbalances the face.
The purpose of fat rebalancing is to rebalance the "hills" and "valleys" and restore harmony to the face.
A fat rebalancing procedure begins with a consultation with the patient’s dermatologic surgeon.
During this visit, the patient’s face is examined in relation to a photograph of when they were 10 to 15 years younger.
The dermatologic surgeon then forms a "blueprint" or map of the areas to be augmented with fat and the areas to be suctioned.
The entire face is addressed, not just specific folds or wrinkles.
The goal of rebalancing the "hills" and "valleys" of the face is easily accomplished by the microliposuction of the fatty "hills" and fat transfer to the sunken "valleys."
In the process of fat rebalancing, fat is collected from the patient’s donor site, such as the buttock, outer thigh or abdomen.
The collected fat is injected to all layers of the tissue starting closest to the bone.
Fat is not only placed in the folds of the skin, but in deep tissue to "suspend" the skin.
Grafts don’t shift or move, but are firmly anchored in existing fat.
Extra fat, not used in the procedure, is meticulously labeled for identification and stored in a medical freezer to be used for future touch-ups at four to eight week intervals.
This technique of fat rebalancing allows for gradual improvement for the patient over the course of a year with little downtime for recovery.
In fact, a full face transfer only places 1.5 tablespoons of fat over the entire face.
Typically, the patient will need six to 12 transfers over the course of a year in order to achieve maximum results.
With each treatment, patients can expect to look one to two years younger.
The results are permanent but since patients will continue to age even after the rebalancing treatment is completed, it is suggested that the patient continue to visit his or her dermatologist to preserve the results and continually "move back the clock."
If the patient chooses to stop the treatments, aging will occur from that point on with the transplanted fat behaving like his or her own facial fat.
This procedure is perfect for the 55-year-old who wants to look like she or he did at 40 or the 40-year-old who wants to look 30 again.
The lack of minimal scarring, bruising and short downtime is appealing to those patients who want to look like themselves, only younger.
Fat rebalancing is different than several other popular skin rejuvenation procedures such as bovine collagen, laser resurfacing or botulinum toxin.
For example, if you picture the aging face like a weathered, collapsed roof, collagen would be comparable to re-tarring the roof to fill in cracks in the asphalt and laser resurfacing like replacing the old shingles on the roof with new ones.
Fat rebalancing replaces the support beams in the roof and restores it to its normal structure and shape.
The difference between fat transplantation and botulinum toxin is best described by picturing the face like a roman shade.
When it is young, the shade is made of thick foam, so tugging on the cord produces few ripples in the shade.
However, as the face ages, it becomes made of tissue paper so that the slightest tug on the cord produces a multitude of ripples in the shade.
While botulinum toxin stops the tugging on the cord, fat transplantation replaces the thickness of the shade.