Nobody knows yourself better than you. But, did you know that your own skin could improve the outcomes of your own reconstructive procedure or cosmetic plastic surgery?
That’s exactly the idea behind taking stem cell enriched fat grafts from your body and transplanting them to another area on your face. Doctors believe the new technique can enhance cosmetic “lipofilling” procedures where fat is removed through liposuction from one part of your body, purified and then injected to another area – of you.
If that seems to make perfect sense, think about how doctors can use the fat injections to reshape a women’s breast after reconstruction surgery, correct facial deformities caused by an injury or congenital defect, or heal scars from burns. Fat injections can also be used as tools for cosmetic surgeons to utilize in reducing wrinkles, which typically first emerge when elasticity and underlying collagen – the basic building blocks for skin – begin to break down.
Fat grafting, sometimes performed with a facelift, is a natural procedure that restores youthfulness to the face without removing and stretching the skin. Some surgeons have begun to use stand-alone stem cell facelifts involving fat grafting. This use of autologous material – or tissue taken from one part of the body and moved to another – is not a novel idea, but instead has been used widely to treat many serious conditions or defects due to disease, trauma or birth defect. Although fat grafting and other types of grafting are still not perfect, they have certainly come a long way.
Surgeons are continuing to discover new methods of aesthetic improvement through facial fat grafting, but have had limited success in transferring tissue that performs successfully over extended periods of time. This time, doctors took more mature cells – stem cells – from body fat and used them to enrich the fatty tissue that was being transplanted from one area to another.
A team of researchers, which published their findings in the September 2013 issue of The Lancet, compared the results of 10 people who received normal autologous fat grafts with 10 others who received fat grafts enriched with stem cells derived from adipose – body fat – tissues. Magnetic resonance imaging was performed on the study participants immediately following the procedure and again 121 days later.
Researchers found that the grafts enriched with fat-derived stem cells retained 80.9 percent of their volume, compared to traditional fat grafts which held 16.3 percent of their volume. Four months later, study participants with stem cell grafts also displayed higher levels of adipose tissue and newly formed connective tissue, as well as less death of body tissue compared to the standard grafts, according to the study. The researchers believe the stem cells give the transplanted fat a better supply of blood, considered a critical component to securing tissue in place.
Renewed Interest in Fat
Improved techniques have greatly renewed interest in grafting a patient’s own fat for reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery. And of course, new technology is never frowned upon when it comes to facial rejuvenation performed through fat injections, especially when it is without the major surgery that is currently required. Typical fat grafting begins with liposuction to collect a small amount of a patient’s own fatty tissue – usually from the abdomen or hips. After processing, plastic surgeons re-inject the fat cells under the skin in the area of facial scarring.
For those with the opposite problem of too much excess in the face, there are alternative ways to work off fat from the face without strenuous exercise. The most successful and safest way to remove fat from the face and neck is through tumescent liposuction. Facial liposuction is commonly used to address excess fullness in the neck, jawline and cheeks.
Weigh Your Choices
If cosmetic facial surgical procedures are weighing on your mind, decisions should not be taken lightly. Vet a plastic surgeon to make sure that the physician you chose is qualified and board certified. Plastic surgeons should have plenty of testimonials and before-and-after photos of prior patients to share with you.
If you are contemplating facial cosmetic surgery, put your best face forward and think ahead. To schedule a consultation call Sandy Friedman, director of patient relations for Dr. Nachlas, at (561) 939-0909. You can also reach us at drnachlas.com/contact-us.