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Comparing Fillers and Fat Grafts For Restoring Facial Volume

Beautiful young Caucasian female getting hyaluronic aced skincare in cosmetic clinic

Everyone wants to look and feel their best. Yet, as we age, doing so becomes a little more challenging. 

A loss of facial volume can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin, making you look older than you feel or appear like you haven't slept in weeks. Time can take its toll on your face's volume, having you long to return to the days it was full and rosy.

Luckily, board-certified plastic surgeons understand that you want what's best for your appearance and offer a wide array of procedures to give you the desired look. Two popular options for restoring facial volume are fillers and fat grafts. 

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, soft tissue fillers have gained much popularity, ranking as the second most popular minimally invasive procedure in the United States, with more than 2.7 million injections performed last year.

Aside from the shared goals of contouring the face with a natural appearance, it is essential to understand that fat grafting and dermal fillers aren't interchangeable treatments.

In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of each method and assist you in choosing which option is best for you.

How to Restore Lost Facial Volume: Fillers vs Fat Grafts

The loss of facial volume can occur due to many factors, including the aging process, sun damage, and genetics. Fillers and fat grafts are the two main options to restore lost facial volume. Both methods can be effective, but they work in different ways and have advantages and disadvantages.

Facial Fat Grafting 

Fat grafts, or fat transfer or lipofilling, involve collecting fat from one part of the body and transferring it into another to add volume and sculpt the desired contour. In the case of addressing facial volume loss, fat is typically harvested from the thighs or abdomen. The fat is processed and cleaned to be suitable for injection, then injected into the face to fill out wrinkles. 

Fat grafts are a surgical procedure and are typically performed under general anesthesia. However, newer, minimally invasive techniques like AirSculpt offer the benefit of staying wide awake during treatment, reducing the risks of full sedation. 

Fat grafting provides natural-looking results that artificial fillers aren't able to match. That's because fat grafting uses fat cells from your own body instead of a gel. Also, consider that this procedure offers 2-in-1 benefits: you slim down one part of the body to plump up another.

Here are a few of the key advantages of fat grafts to the face:

  • Using body fat to add more volume to your face is the most natural process. 

  • The stem cells found within the fat may help provide a youthful effect on your skin. Because fat is living tissue, it can give a rejuvenating effect by improving tissue quality, not just by changing appearance. 

  • After the injection, the fat becomes living tissue, resulting in a long-lasting difference that cannot be obtained with artificial fillers.

  • Since you harvest fat from other areas of the body, the procedure serves as a way to improve the overall contour of your body by removing stubborn fat deposits.

  • Skilled surgeons can inject just the right amount of your body fat to restore a balanced, natural facial appearance.

  • Fat grafts can be used to treat larger areas of the face than fillers.

Cons of fat grafts include:

  • Invasive fat grafting surgery with liposuction involves anesthesia. (less invasive AirSculpt options do not use general)

  • Natural fat fillers can be more expensive than other fillers.

  • They may require a more extended downtime and recovery.

  • Risks such as lumps and irregularities are more common in fat grafting procedures than in hyaluronic acid or other fillers.

  • There is a risk of further complications, such as infection and unevenness.

Face Fillers 

Dermal Fillers are gels that can be injected into the skin in a non-surgical way to restore facial volume, decrease signs of facial aging, and smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. Many different types of fillers exist, including hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, and poly-L-lactic acid. Each type of filler has unique properties, and the type of filler will largely depend on the individual's specific needs and goals.

Fillers are an excellent option for patients that want to look refreshed and have good skin elasticity. Dermal fillers shouldn't be considered for dramatic changes or results as long-lasting as fat grafting.

One of the primary benefits of this process is that it's not invasive, meaning that no surgical preparation is required. That also entails that the time for recovery is practically nonexistent.

Pros of dermal fillers:

  • The most popular hyaluronic acid fillers are generally safe and can produce soft, natural results.

  • Treatments usually only require local anesthesia and can be performed quickly.

  • Swelling and bruising are less stark than fat grafting.

  • These acid injections are usually reversible.

  • Results appear almost instantly. 

  • Fillers can treat a variety of areas on the face, including the cheeks, lips, and under the eyes.

Con of face fillers are:

  • You could endure a small risk of experiencing an allergic response. This does not occur when using your body fat.

  • Fillers are temporary and must be repeated every few months or years.

  • There is a risk of side effects, such as swelling, bruising, and infection.

  • Overuse of fillers can lead to an unnatural appearance.

Fillers vs. Fat Grafts: Which is Right for You?

The choice between fillers and fat grafts ultimately depends on your needs and goals. If you're looking for a quick and non-invasive way to restore lost facial volume, fillers may be the best option. However, if you're seeking a more permanent and natural-looking result, fat grafts may be the better choice.

To help determine which option is best for you, it's essential to consult with a qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeon. They can assess your needs and goals and recommend the best course of action.

The AirSculpt Lift: A Seamless Facial Fat Graft

We take much pride in how our patients feel confident with their new look. That's our overall objective as a company: making our patients feel happy on the inside and outside.

Regarding fat grafting, we've completely revolutionized the process with AirSculpt®, an advanced procedure safer and more precise than traditional liposuction-based fat transfers. 

Our newly introduced facial fat graft procedure – the AirSculpt Lift – offers all the above benefits without the downsides of traditional treatments, like long recovery or general anesthesia.

You'll enjoy quick results that keep getting better, stay awake throughout treatment, and experience minimal bruising or swelling thanks to the mechanical accuracy AirSculpt provides. Furthermore, all of our fat filler injection treatments are performed by qualified surgeons; by comparison, dermal fillers are usually done by less qualified practitioners. Call the AirSculpt body contouring office nearest you for a free consultation to learn more and determine whether a fat graft or fillers best suits your needs.


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