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Dermal Fillers vs Facial Fat Grafting: Which is Better for Replacing Volume?
Facial rejuvenation treatment

Aging is a natural and normal process that everyone must undergo at some point in our lives. As no two people are identical, the rate at one ages will also differ from person to person, compounded by several external factors such as lifestyle, diet and exposure to weather conditions. 

As we age, the fat pads diminish and residual fat on the face sag, causing the face to lose structure and fullness, while making the lower face look heavy in appearance. In some instances, the temples and cheeks may also become hollowed, making you look tired and gaunt.

Naturally, people turn to facial fat grafting or dermal filler treatments to reverse signs of aging on the face. But which facial rejuvenation treatment is right for you? 

Both facial fat grafting and dermal fillers are common skin rejuvenation procedures to reverse mild to moderate signs of aging. Both treatments aim to replenish volume loss and smoothen wrinkles and fine lines on the face.

What is facial fat grafting?

Also sometimes known as fat injections or autologous fat transfer, it is a surgical procedure that requires the doctor to harvest fat from another part of the body and reintroduce to areas of the face that are lacking in volume through a series of injections. 

Harvesting of fat for facial fat grafting

Facial fat grafting is a safe treatment because it involves extracting fat by liposuction, processing the fat, and then reinjecting the purified fat into the face. 

Facial fat grafting is particularly useful to add large amounts of volume to areas such as temples, cheeks, lower face, and lips. 

Are dermal fillers natural? Are there any adverse side effects?

On the other hand, dermal fillers are substances made in laboratories. However, they contain biocompatible substances – also known as hyaluronic acid (HA). These are compounds that are naturally found in the body. It is more widely present in younger people as compared to older people. 

Injecting of dermal fillers

For that reason, HA dermal fillers are considered safe and biodegradable. It is considered a non-surgical treatment and can be injected directly into the face without the need to harvest anything from the body.

Most HA dermal fillers are composed of naturally occurring substances. Depending on their specific chemical compounds, different HA dermal fillers can last from six months to about one-and-a-half years. 

When the HA fillers are injected into the skin, it plumps up the skin and fills deficient areas of the face. Over a period of several months, the fillers will gradually be absorbed by the body.

As HA fillers are considered natural compounds, there is extremely low risks of developing any adverse side effects to the treatment. It is common to develop some swelling and bruising but they should subside in a few days with proper management.

Blindness or skin necrosis may occur if the treatment is performed by an inexperienced doctor.

Ideal candidates for facial fat grafting

Facial fat grafting is considered a minor surgery because it involves a liposuction procedure to extract the excess fat from other parts of the body. 

So, who are suitable candidates for facial fat grafting? They should fulfill at least one of the following:

  • Severe loss of facial volume
  • Looking for overall facial rejuvenation
  • Prefer longer lasting results
  • Prefer to use compound from own body than to use a compound manufactured in a laboratory
  • Does not mind the downtime associated with minor surgeries

Ideal candidates for dermal filler treatment

On the other hand, dermal filler treatments are almost fuss-free and convenient. There is no need to harvest cells from your body. 

Ideal candidates for dermal filler treatment should fulfill at least one of the following:

  • Prefer to opt for a quick fix for facial augmentation and rejuvenation
  • Prefer treatment with little or no downtime
  • Do not have enough excess fat to harvest for fat grafting
  • Want to sculpt delicate and small areas of the face such as under the eyes, nose or chin
  • Want to have a more predictable outcome as compared to fat grafting
  • Prefer treatments with lower risks because HA dermal filler treatments are reversible, and results are temporary 
  • Prefer treatment that has a more predictable outcome

How different are the results for both treatments?

Immediate results can be seen for both facial fat grafting and dermal filler treatments. 

In most cases, most people only require one fat grafting treatment to achieve the desired results. However, about 30 percent of transplanted fat may die and will be naturally eliminated from the body in one to two months. 

Your doctor may wait for the swelling to subside and transplanted fat settle before opting to undergo a touch-up treatment to achieve the final result, which could last for several years.

One of the benefits of dermal fillers is that their rheological properties are different. This allows doctors to sculpt and augment the face with precision, giving remarkable results with very little downtime.

So, how do I know which is more suitable?

Facial fat grafting vs dermal fillers

Both treatments are excellent choices for overall facial rejuvenation and volume replacement. 

Facial fat grafting is best for people who want to replace large volume loss on the face and can afford to take time off from work to recuperate.

Whereas dermal filler treatment is more suitable for people who are not only seeking facial rejuvenation but also augment delicate facial features such as nose, cheeks and lips. 

When considering your option, always seek a consultation with a certified, experienced doctor. A skilled doctor will be able to discuss the pros and cons of both treatments in order to help you decide the most appropriate treatment to suit your needs.

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