Fat transfer can be used to improve the eye area, particularly the appearance of sunken eyes. On occasion and in appropriate patients, this procedure may also be able to replace the need for upper eyelid surgery or brow lift by correcting redundant skin with volume restoration. Fat transfer is an excellent procedure for restoring a natural fullness often associated with youth.
For this procedure, local anesthesia is commonly used on the donor and recipient sites. The donor site is an area on the body where there is excess fat, commonly the buttock, outer thigh, flank, or abdomen. Using a cannula attached to a syringe, the anesthetic is infiltrated into the tissue of the donor site and then gently massaged. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the fat is removed. Many doctors prefer manual aspiration using a syringe to minimize trauma to the fat cells. After removal, the fat is prepared for reinjection by placing it in a centrifuge to separate the fat from blood and other fluids.
When treating a sunken eye appearance, a small incision is made on the side of the cheeks just below the eye area. A very small cannula is then placed through the incision and advanced to the nasal side wall. As the cannula is removed, the surgeon releases small parcels of fat. For best results, the fat parcels should be placed side by side rather than in a line and overcorrection should be avoided. When treating the brow and upper eyelid area, the incision may be made to the side of the eyebrows.
While some swelling may result, the recovery following fat transfer is generally minimal. The duration of results will vary. Significant weight fluctuations can alter the results. For most patients, the fat will be reabsorbed over time and will require repeat injections to maintain the effect. Some surgeons freeze fat from the original procedure for use in repeat procedures.