Can Overfilling Of Fat Injections To The Face Be Reduced?

Q: I had my face injected with fat and it was initially overfilled. The doctor that did it said it would go down and look more normal but it has not. Can anything be done to make the fat go away or at least become less full?

A: Fat injections to the face is a good and safe technique for adding soft tissue volume to specific areas. Its almost sole problem is that its volume retention (aka how much survives) is not completely predictable. Studies have shown that certain areas of the face do retain transplanted fat better than others. For example, the cheek and side of the face do much better than that of the lips. Thus, it is standard practice to overfill or add more volume than one thinks is really necessary. How much one should overfill has never been precisely defined. Some plastic surgeons may do it just a little, others may significantly overfill.

Despite overfilling, the most persistent fat injection problem is that not enough ultimately remains. It is rare, but I have seen it, that too much fat remains. One should wait at least 3 months after facial fat injections to judge the outcome. By then, one is most likely looking at how much fat volume will be maintained.

There are two basic methods for reducing overfilled fat facial areas. If the location permits, ‘micro-liposuction’ can be done if a small incision can be cosmetically tolerated. The other approach is using injection therapy. I have seen successful use of either a steroid (Kenalog or triamcinolone) or very dilute Lipodissolve solutions. (phosphatidylcholine)  The two can be combined together to create a mild fat dissolving solution that does not cause a lot of facial swelling afterwards. Injection therapy as the advantage of a non-surgical approach in which the treatment can be done in very discrete spots. It is also a more gradual process that lowers the risk of removing too much fat and causing the reverse contour problem.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana