Fat Grafting and Dermal Filler – Which Option for Replacing Facial Volume?

We all want to look and feel our best. But as the natural aging process continues, we find it harder and harder to maintain the youthful appearance.

Fat grafting and dermal filler injections are two popular cosmetic treatments to replace loss of facial volume. Although both have similar intended outcome, the treatment processes are different. There are also pros and cons for both treatments.

A major issue we want to address when we talk about aging is the loss of facial volume and to replace the fat that is no longer padding your face.

Very few people, when it comes down to it, are able to say with certainty which option they feel more comfortable with. It is vitally important that you understand the pros and cons of both treatments so that you can determine which approach works best for you.

With that in mind, we speak to Dr. Siew from Radium Medical Aesthetics to tell us more about fat grafting and dermal fillers and how they can be used to replace lost volume on the face.

Facial volume replacement: Surgical or non-surgical?

Facial volume replacement is important for maintaining a youthful appearance. There are permanent and temporary facial volume replacement treatments available.

Fat grafting is technically a surgical procedure even though it is usually performed as an outpatient treatment. This treatment involves removing fatty tissue from other parts of the body such as thigh or abdomen, and transfer them into the target site.

As fat grafting requires the harvesting of fat tissue and then transferring to the face, this treatment usually has a recovery period of about 2 to 3 weeks. This is because the incision site must be closed with a surgical tape or sutures. You may also experience some swelling or discomfort for about 2 weeks at the harvest site.

The result from fat grafting treatment is usually permanent. However, not all fat will survive during the procedure. Over time, the fat may also be resorbed by the body, causing the result to be slightly different from what you see immediately after the procedure.

Dermal fillers are comparatively less invasive than fat grafting. Dermal filler treatments are non-surgical in nature and have very little downtime, generally making it a more desirable option for patients. A dermal filler treatment can be done in less than an hour. General anaesthesia is not required for a dermal filler procedure. There may be a topical anesthetic used to prevent discomfort during the treatment, but that will wear off shortly after the procedure. 

There are two main categories of dermal fillers – temporary and collagen-stimulating ones. Temporary dermal fillers are usually made of hyaluronic acid. Collagen-stimulating fillers are usually made of chemical compounds that aim to stimulate your body to produce more collagen for a longer-lasting result.

A good result using dermal fillers is highly dependent on the doctor’s skills. An experienced injector can create a remarkable outcome with only a few injection points on the face.

Result from a dermal filler treatment can last between 6 months and 5 years, depending on the type of fillers you choose.

Fat grafting vs Dermal filler

Both fat grafting and dermal fillers provide effective, instantaneous results. 

The immediate outcome of fat graft may seem a little more shocking at first because the doctor needs to transfer more than is necessary as some fat deposits will be absorbed by the body during the healing process. As a result, your face may appear more puffy or swollen than you expected in the first 2 weeks.

On the other hand, there are different types of dermal fillers that yield different results. For example, hyaluronic acid fillers plump up the skin by replacing lost volume in the skin. Results can typically last anywhere from 6 months to 18 months.

Radiesse dermal filler
Benefits of Radiesse Dermal Filler

Collagen fillers such as Radiesse or Sculptra are made of chemical compounds that encourage your body to stimulate collagen production to achieve a longer-lasting result as compared to regular hyaluronic acid fillers.

What about the costs of fat grafting and dermal fillers?

 It can be difficult to compare both treatments as both treatments are fundamentally different. Comparing both treatments on just prices alone, dermal fillers are much most cost-effective as compared to fat grafting. Dermal fillers price can range from S$600 for hyaluronic acid fillers to S$1400 for collagen fillers such as Radiesse and Sculptra. 

The cost of a single fat grafting treatment starts from S$4500. This may not include the costs associated with post-treatment care.

Different doctors charge differently for dermal fillers and fat grafting treatments. Although both treatments are not complicated, appropriate knowledge and experience are required to carry out the procedure safely and effectively. A less expensive doctor will save you some money now, but they could also cause you problems that will cost more money for rectification. 

Dermal fillers or fat grafting: Which one suits me better?

Choosing the appropriate treatment depends on your risk appetite level, lifestyle habits, and budget. 

Always schedule a consultation with a well-trained aesthetic doctor in Singapore to discuss your needs and requirements. When you meet with your doctor, you can tell him your goals for your appearance. 

Request to see some before-and-after photos of his clients so that you have an idea of what your result will be like. 

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