Your surgeon will always discuss with you and recommend the treatment that is appropriate for you. During the consultation, the surgeon will also explain the treatment, the results and benefits, the duration of the result and the frequency of repeating the treatment.

Fat Transfer/Harvest and re-injection to the face/hands

Fat transfer and re-injection is today’s number one treatment for loss of volume and creases on our faces. As we age the appearance of creases on our face is inevitable. Even though these creases are part of the normal ageing process and there is nothing we can do to stop it, we can fill out the creases with fat, making them decrease or appear less prominent.

As we get older, we start to lose fat from our face. This loss of fat and associated loose skin starts to show in the cheek area, giving us a sad, gloomy look. By placing the fat in the upper third of our face we produce an uplift effect, reshaping the face to the more youthful years.

As well as losing volume from the face, the backs of the hands can also lose volume. Therefore fat is the ideal filler to rejuvenate the back of the hands, as well as the nasal labial fold (nose to mouth lines) or any body depression.

Since it is your own fat there is no risk of rejection and no possibility of an allergic reaction. This procedure is mainly used to produce a more youthful look and for re-contouring of the face, hands and other body areas.

Where the treatment will be performed

Fat harvest and re-injection to the face and/or hands is performed in our Harley Street Clinic.

Type of Anaesthesia

The fat harvest and re-injection to the face and/or hands is carried out under local and sedation, there will be no pain and you will be in a sleep-state throughout the procedure.

The procedure

Fat harvest and re-injection to the face and/or hands usually takes between one to one and a half hours.

Preparing for surgery

You will be given specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medicines.

If you smoke, plan to quit at least two weeks prior to the surgery and not resume for at least two weeks after your surgery. Avoid over-exposure to the sun before the surgery, especially on the abdomen, and do not go on a diet, as both can inhibit your ability to heal. If you develop a cold or infection of any kind, it is important to inform the surgeon, as your surgery may need to be postponed.

You will need to arrange for someone to collect you after your surgery, as you will be unable to drive. You must have someone collect you and stay with you overnight.

Before your procedure

It is a requirement under the Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007 that all patients wishing to have their fat stored have a blood test on the day of the procedure. This blood test includes HIV 1 & 2, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C & Syphilis. Each patient will be asked to sign a consent form for this test to be completed & will be offered the counselling services, should this be required.

Two weeks before the surgery, you should not take any medications containing aspirin, since these products affect the blood clotting mechanism and therefore may lead to excessive bleeding during and after surgery, hence resulting in increased bruising. Taking high doses of vitamin E preparations, eating large amounts of garlic and consuming alcohol can also produce the same result and should be avoided. If pain medication is necessary, we recommend you take ibuprofen/paracetamol.

Fat transfer procedure

This procedure is performed either under local anaesthesia or light sedation.  Once the harvesting area has been determined (generally the abdomen, but fat may be harvested from the hips and thighs), the area is anaesthetised. Next, the fat is harvested with a 1-2 millimetre cannula.  The area requiring rejuvenation is anaesthetised and the fat is re-injected with a blunt cannula. The amount of fat put in each area is always more than needed. The reason for this is that we know that initially about 40 – 50% will be absorbed by the body, the rest will stay. We always keep some of your fat in our freezer bank. Therefore if in the future you need more rejuvenation to an area, we have the fat ready to re-inject. Most patients need around two to three sessions, but by having the fat stored in our freezer bank there is no need to harvest it again.

After your procedure

After your procedure, you will stay for about half an hour, (two hours if having sedation) during which time the nurse will explain your post-operative instructions and the tablets which you will need to take (painkillers and antibiotics). We may place some ice over the treated areas to minimise any swelling. You can expect some slight swelling for the first 48 hours. Occasionally patients develop bruising, which usually disappears within 5-7 days.

You will have a compression bandage on the area where the fat is harvested from, which needs to remain in place for one week. There will also be a suture (stitch) at this site, which is removed after one week. You will need to return to the clinic after one week for the nurse to remove the bandage and suture, as well as to check that everything is healing well.

Risks and uncertainties

When performed by a qualified surgeon, complications from a fat transfer/harvest are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility of complications, including reaction to the anaesthesia, infection, haematoma, bleeding – resulting in increased bruising, temporary swelling and a slight asymmetry in healing or scarring. You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon’s instructions both before and after surgery.

If you have any further questions or queries about this procedure, please call our office on 0207 636 4272 to book a consultation with Dr Roberto Viel. Please note that it is necessary to attend a consultation prior to your operation, this is also the case with existing patients, it may also be necessary to have a repeat blood test.

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