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Facial Fat Transfer

Fat transfer to the face is a useful adjunctive procedure for volumisation in cosmetic surgery and aesthetic medicine and it is gaining increasing popularity in the UK as it’s regenerative benefits are also being recognised. Fat removed by surgeons at the time of liposuction operations may be injected into areas like the face, cheeks, lips, periocular area (and into the scalp for hair restoration). There has been an explosion in popularity in fat transfers to the face due to so-called ‘nanofat’ and ‘micro fat’ techniques being introduced. These are fat transfers made to very fine and delicate areas including the cheeks, nasolabial folds, lips, temples and around the eyes. This is now a very viable, longer-lasting and autologous alternative to synthetic hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers.

The procedure was originally popularised by Sydney Coleman in New York (also called lipo-filling or lipostructure) for use in the face but then other doctors explored its use for other areas of the body.

The down-time for this procedure is generally short and most people on average can return to work anywhere between one to seven days later depending on the amount of work performed and the size of the donor site harvesting. Light activities can be resumed according to patient comfort. Normal activities can be resumed after a couple days. The procedure can be performed as a day case and under a local anaesthetic if small areas only require attention. Larger procedures or multiple site transfers will usually require overnight stay.

FACIAL FAT TRANSFER, STEM CELLS & REGENERATIVE MEDICINE

Adding fat to the face is at the very cutting edge of regenerative medicine as carefully processed and prepared fat contains high levels of stem cells that have been shown to have immense benefits in anti-ageing. One of the main advantages in fat transfer over recent years is the improved ability to harvest and process the fat tissue thereby improving graft ‘take’ rates. Mr Banwell prefers to use the PureGraft system which is an advanced system to help purify and prepare fat cells in an optimum way prior to re-injection back into the face. However, there is some evidence that using nanofat preparations with microcannulae can also be very successful to areas around the eyes, nasolabial folds, lips, temples and cheeks.

FAT TRANSFER TO FACE, CHEEKS, EYES AND LIPS

Facial nanofat transfer is considered an art form and whilst the procedure is much more complicated than simple synthetic fillers, the results can be very natural and long-lasting. If such procedures are of interest then please arrange a consultation with Mr Banwell to discuss this further. Fat transfer to the lips is also increasing in popularity for those patients not wishing to use synthetic hyaluronic acid filler. The new nanofat procedures to the lips are definitely something to chat about if you are interested in natural lip augmentation.

WHAT DOES FACIAL FAT TRANSFER INVOLVE?

Fat transfer to the face is relatively straight forward and can often be performed under local anaesthetic as an outpatient procedure rr as a day case. Remember that fundamental to this technique is the requirement for the fat to develop a new blood supply and thus external factors such as smoking, alcohol, exercise, etc can all affect fat graft take rates. As explained previously, Mr Banwell prefers to use the PureGraft system which helps purify and prepare the fat graft for the face, cheeks and lips. The careful preparation of the fat has been cited as one of the main reasons for optimal take rates. However, as Mr Banwell will explain, a proportion of the fat will reabsorb to a degree and therefore patients must accept that further fat transfer procedures to the facial area in question may also be required (at an extra cost).

There are also things that patients can do to facilitate success: in the lead up to the operation it is vital to eat well, get plenty of sleep. Drinking plenty of water to rehydrate in the days up to surgery is also very important as dehydration is another factor in poor take rates.

The area where the fat is removed from is called the ‘donor’ site. Usually Mr Banwell will harvest fat from the abdomen or outer thighs using liposuction techniques but this will be confirmed on the day of the procedure. Remember that unfortunately issues can occur in the donor sites such as contour irregularity, skin excess, dimpling, rippling and bumpiness so it is important to massage these areas afterwards and allow this to settle – wearing compression garments for these areas is also important. However, as the volumes required for the face are relatively small the donor site issues for facial fat transfer are usually minimal.

FAT TRANSFER FOR HAIR RESTORATION

The indications for this are growing and one of the exciting areas of research and development is the role of transferring fat in hair restoration in early hair loss patients as an alternative treatment to hair transplant. Relatively recent research has shown that the injection of fat into the scalp may stimulate the hair follicles and new hair growth.There are various commercially available machines that can help purify fat and indeed adipocyte derived stem cells (ADSCs) and various protocols have demonstrated benefits for hair growth. Mr Banwell was one of the first surgeons in the country trained in this technique.

FAT TRANSFER FOR SCAR TREATMENT

Fat transfer can also be used for other indications too including scar management and scar revision so please feel free to ask Mr Banwell or his team for further information on these indications.

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Please contact Mr Banwell's office on 01342 330302 or email help@paulebanwell.com for further information.

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SURGERY TIME


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HOSPITAL STAY


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ANAESTHETIC ASSESSMENT


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PRE ADMISSION TESTS


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SLEEPING POSITION


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REASONABLY MOBILE


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WASHING


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DRIVING


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EXERCISE INCLUDING GYM


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SEXUAL ACTIVITY


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FULL RECOVERY


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TIME OFF WORK


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BRAS & GARMENTS

Mr Banwell recommends that the majority of this kind of surgery is best performed under a general anaesthetic undertaken by a specialist anaesthetist. However, smaller facial areas are required, the procedure can easily be performed under local anaesthetic without a problem.

Usually the operation is performed as a day case. Most people report a little discomfort and soreness in the first few days but these are minor effects. Paracetamol is usually sufficient for pain relief. It is necessary to take things easy for the first few days. Sleeping on your back for a few days on pillows will also help minimise the swelling. Avoiding vigorous exercise is critical to allow the fat cells to ‘take’. Mr Banwell and his team will explain what you can and cannot do.

There are both general and specific risks and Mr Banwell will talk to you in detail regarding the risks and where they stem from. General risks include bruising and swelling, bleeding and wound infection, Specific risks include uneven or asymmetrical results, fat loss and reabsorption and the need for further procedures (extra). For the donor site there can be rippling, lumpiness and dimpling, excess skin, skin discolouration and loss of sensation (temporary loss of sensation almost always occurs and recovers after some months) although these effects are usually minimal for small volumes of facial fat transfer.

  • Surgical fees
  • Hospital fees
  • Specialist anaesthetist fee (if general anaesthetic)

The surgery is very neat with minimal scarring.

I was delighted with my care, it was faultless in all aspects.

My expectations were fully met when I went to see Mr Banwell for the first time and he went through very carefully what he would be doing and giving me a realistic prognosis which was what I wanted. He came over as a very thorough and caring person. The skin graft was a complete success and although quite a large area, it is exceptionally neat and gives me no concern. On two further occasions I noticed lumps in other areas, and on getting in touch, appointments were made and Paul removed them immediately, once again very neatly. The after care is also extremely important to me and I have never been disappointed. Luckily I don’t know anybody going through the same thing as me but I would have no reservations in telling them to go and see Paul, as his thoughtfulness and care and attention throughout is excellent, he treats you as an individual. I would also say that I consider him now to be a friend as well as a surgeon. Whenever I am on the phone making future appointments his staff are always friendly, helpful, cheerful and willing to chat, but if you need any reassurance at any time they’re there for you.


Nicky S.

I just want to thank you for all your care, expertise and advice.

I am so happy with the results of my surgery.

From the welcome I got on my first visit to post-op consultations, the team were very friendly. Mr Banwell is undoubtedly the most professional and caring surgeon I could wish for. I have felt completely confident in his expertise, and am thrilled with the results. I would not hesitate – and indeed have – to recommend him to all my friends.


H F.

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The Banwell Clinic

The Banwell Clinic is recognised as a boutique cosmetic clinic specialising in all aspects of skin health and our philosophy is to help Protect, Restore & Rejuvenate your face and body.  Our extensive portfolio of treatments include injectables, thread lifts, plasma shower, luxurious signature facials, acne treatments, microdermabrasion, hair removal and cellulite treatments, all carried out in a friendly, warm environment by an expert team.

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