Fat Transfer V Dermal Fillers: which is best?

Article Medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)

Dr. Gavin Chan

Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
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Dermal fillers are a popular non-surgical treatment to enhance the face, lips, brow and cheeks. Manufactured from a substance that’s naturally found in your body, dermal filler treatment can reduce the signs of ageing. While dermal fillers aren’t made from human sources, it’s important to remember they’re a bioengineered synthetic substance. Since 2005, Dr Gavin Chan (MBBS, Cosmetic Physician, Liposuctionist) and his team of highly trained and experienced Cosmetic Doctors and Cosmetic Nurses have been enhancing their patient’s faces by using dermal fillers. Over the last 12 months or so, Dr Gavin Chan has discovered through MRI scans that dermal fillers can remain in the face for longer than expected. Traditionally Cosmetic Doctors and Cosmetic Nurses have believed that dermal fillers only last for 6 to 18 months. With scientific proof that dermal fillers last longer in the body than expected, it’s time to reconsider whether this non-surgical anti-ageing treatment is the best option.

Facial fat transfer (also known as autologous fat transfer) is considered to be a 100% natural procedure that involves harvesting your body fat via a ‘mini liposuction’ surgical procedure. Under general anaesthetic or light sedation, fat is harvested by liposuction from your body. Commonly used areas include your hips, waist, outer thighs, inner thighs and abdomen. Since only a small amount of fat is required, only small incisions are made. After the fat is injected into your face, your skin tone and complexion appear more youthful due to the stem cells that have also been harvested with your fat.

The most commonly treated areas for facial fat transfers include:

  • Around your eyes: to smooth the transition between your cheeks and lower eyelids.
  • The cheeks: to add volume to your face and give it more shape and lift.
  • Your lips: to improve the shape and size of them.
  • Jawline and chin: To improve the appearance of your jawline without requiring a facelift.

Once the fat has been harvested, it’s stored in a low temperature freezer at our medical clinic for up to 12 months. Watch Dr Gavin Chan performing a facial fat transfer on ABC Catalyst.

Is facial fat transfer better than dermal filler treatment?

After Dr Gavin Chan had scientific proof that dermal fillers lasted a lot longer in the body than first thought, he started to question whether facial fat transfer would be a better option for some patients. Before deciding whether facial fat transfer or dermal filler treatment is more appropriate for you, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each. This will also help you know which questions to ask during your initial consultation with your Cosmetic Doctor of Cosmetic Surgeon.

1 Fat fillers are a natural alternative to synthetic dermal fillers

Most of the popular brands of temporary dermal fillers are synthetic and have been bioengineered. For patients who are conscious about avoiding foreign substances in their body, this can be a turn-off from getting dermal filler treatment.

Autologous fat transfer to your face uses your own fat harvested with a ‘micro liposuction’ procedure from areas including your hips, thighs and abdomen. This surgical procedure usually harvests a couple of hundred mLs of fat – although some patients request for more fat to be removed. ‘Normal liposuction’ surgical procedures can harvest a couple of litres of fat. Facial fat transfer is a natural way of putting fat back into your face.

It’s important to remember that facial fat transfer is a surgical procedure that requires general anaesthetic or intravenous sedation in an operating theatre. There’s also some downtime required. Dermal filler treatment can be performed in a medical clinic with no downtime required.

2 Dermal fillers can be reversed. Facial fat transfers cannot be reversed.

Dermal filler treatments can easily be reversed by dissolving them with an injectable enzyme called hyaluronidase. This enzyme only dissolves the dermal filler and is flushed out by your body within 24 hours. For some patients this gives them peace of mind.

Because facial fat transfers are not reversible, they have to be performed in stages spaced several months apart. If too much fat is injected into your face during the first treatment, there’s no way to correct it.

3 Dermal fillers are more appropriate for one or two treatment areas. Facial fat transfers are better for multiple treatment areas

Most patients only have one or two concerns about their face. From hollowness under their eyes to small lips. In these cases, dermal filler treatment is more appropriate than facial fat transfers.

However, if your face has lost a lot of volume and you have lowered eyebrows, loss of cheekbones and jowls over your jawline, facial fat transfer is a better treatment option. Known as pan facial loss, this can occur if you’ve lost a lot of weight, are slim or exercise a lot. With one surgical procedure your entire face can have its volume replaced.

4 Dermal filler is better value for small treatment areas. Facial fat transfers are better value for large treatment areas

When it comes to enhancing your face, cost must be a factor. For one to two treatment areas, you may only need 1mL or 2 mL’s of dermal filler. With scientific evidence that dermal filler can last up to 10 years, this is a very cost-effective anti-ageing solution.

If your face has numerous treatment areas that need volume restored, facial fat transfer is going to be more cost effective. The amount of dermal filler required for a full face can become very expensive.

5 Dermal fillers give you more projection. Facial fat transfers are ‘softer’

Dermal fillers have a firmer consistency than fat and are effective at projecting the chin and nose. On the other hand, fat is softer and needs to be spread evenly throughout your face. Fat cannot be used like dermal fillers. If fat isn’t evenly spread it can result in necrosis because the blood supply can’t reach it. Facial fat transfers are the ideal anti-ageing solution for patients with generalized volume loss.

6 Dermal filler doses are more accurate than fat facial transfers

For patients who are perfectionists, the best anti-ageing solution is dermal filler treatment. The doses of dermal fillers can be adjusted a lot more easily than facial fat transfers. Cosmetic Surgeons and Cosmetic Nurses also understand how many mLs are required to achieve a particular result.

Because fat is a biological filler, it’s important that the fat survives. This rate of survival will be different for every patient and depends on how the fat is injected and your fitness and health. Unlike dermal fillers, there are no tried and true standards for knowing how much fat to inject. This is why a step by step approach to facial fat transfers prevents overfilling and achieves the best results.

Where to get the best anti-ageing treatment in Melbourne

The right treatment and procedure will vary between patients and needs to take into account downtime, cost and desired results. Some patients may even have a combination of treatments where they have facial fat transfer to correct generalized volume loss in the face and then have dermal filler treatment for minor ‘touch-ups’.

Since 2005, led by Dr Gavin Chan his team of highly experienced and trained Cosmetic Doctors and Cosmetic Nurses have successfully treated thousands of patients with dermal filler treatment. For patients who would require a great deal of dermal filler to improve the shape and volume of their face, a better option is to have a ‘mini-liposuction’ procedure for autologous fat transfers. Dr Gavin Chan and his team of Cosmetic Surgeons regularly perform this procedure for patients who would like to improve the volume and shape of your face using their own fat.

Call our friendly customer service team to book a surgical consultation today 1300 863 824 or fill in the form below.

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Dr. Gavin Chan
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