Dermal Fillers vs. Fat Transfer: Which Is the Better Choice and Why?

The beautiful face of young woman with cleanf fresh skin

With the introduction of countless age-defying and innovative facial rejuvenation techniques, there are now a plethora of options for candidates to choose from—making the choice that much more difficult. Varying price ranges, recovery times, longevity of the results, maintenance frequency, as well as the skills of the facial plastic surgeon in question must all factor into this decision. When it comes to revitalizing the look and feel of your face, dermal fillers or a fat transfer (fat grafting) are the two most obvious nonsurgical options.

But how do you know which one is the right choice for you? To help you decide, we’ve provided a helpful guide that illustrates the techniques used as well as the advantages and disadvantages of both procedures. Before making the decision, though, we encourage you to consult with a qualified facial plastic surgeon such as Dr. Andres Gantous at Toronto Facial Plastic Surgery.

What Are Dermal Fillers?

Dermal fillers—which are also referred to as injectable fillers, injectables, or just fillers—are soft tissue liquid serums that are injected directly into the skin to fill areas that exhibit volume loss and smooth out wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet. Dermal fillers are a temporary cosmetic solution that can be used to reduce the signs of aging on the face and produce a smoother, more youthful looking result. Although dermal fillers are temporary and will eventually be absorbed by the body, they contain hyaluronic acid—a substance that’s naturally produced by the body and that facilitates collagen production in the skin.

Over time, however, collagen production slows down and the skin gradually loses its natural elasticity, which is why many people turn to dermal fillers to help replace or supplement collagen loss.

Dermal fillers are a good choice for candidates who simply want to fill in areas of noticeable volume loss or smooth out the look of fine lines and wrinkles on their faces. This is a quick, convenient, and affordable cosmetic procedure for candidates looking to turn back the clock.

What Are the Advantages of Dermal Fillers?

Dermal fillers boast a great deal of advantages, including:

  • They’re nonsurgical procedures
  • Also known as the lunchtime procedure, dermal fillers can be administered in approximately half an hour depending on the number of injections needed
  • Results are virtually instantaneous
  • No downtime is needed, so you can resume work and other activities
  • Depending on the type of dermal filler you’re using, they can last anywhere between six to 12 months or even up to five years
  • Only local anesthesia is needed to numb the injection site(s)
  • Dermal fillers are an outpatient procedure and can be done at the facial plastic surgeon’s office

What Are the Disadvantages of Dermal Fillers?

All cosmetic procedures have some level of risk and disadvantage, depending on how you look at it. Dermal fillers are not an exception to this rule, but the disadvantages are so minimal that you don’t really have to worry about them.

  • Dermal fillers are temporary, which means repeat treatments will be necessary
  • Candidates with sensitive skin may develop symptoms like itching, some acne, a skin rash, inflammation, bruising, redness, or bleeding—all of which are very rare reactions
  • Using an unskilled surgeon may yield uneven results
  • Over-injection or overcorrecting wrinkles can occur

To avoid all the abovementioned potential risk factors and undesirable results, make sure to choose a reputable and highly skilled facial plastic surgeon to perform the procedure. The procedure itself might be simple, but you should still ascertain that the cosmetic surgeon performing it is fully licensed, board certified in your area, and has a considerable level of experience.

Prior to your procedure, you’ll be required to schedule a preliminary appointment during which your facial plastic surgeon will carefully examine the condition of your facial skin and make personalized recommendations for you.

What Is a Fat Transfer/Fat Grafting?

A fat transfer or fat grafting is an all-natural procedure that involves extracting fat cells or cellulite from parts of the body where it’s unwanted and in abundance (usually the inner upper arm, the upper thigh, or the abdomen). Following a brief purification process, that same fat that was harvested from the candidate’s own body is re-injected into the desired area of the face. Using the candidate’s own fat cells helps to add volume to parts of the face that are lacking it and it also reduces the risk of the candidate having an adverse reaction to the procedure.

Clients that have extremely hollow cheeks, deep facial lines/creases, dark circles under their eyes, large under-bags, and hollowness around their temples are generally good candidates for fat transfer/fat grafting.

What Are the Advantages of a Fat Transfer/Fat Grafting?

There are many great advantages to undergoing a fat transfer/fat grafting procedure, including:

  • The procedure is minimally invasive
  • Using fat cells from the candidate’s body minimizes risk level
  • Slimmer looking donor area (i.e. the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm)
  • Results typically last much longer than dermal fillers
  • Fat cells contain stem cells that promote healthy tissue growth and quality
  • Recovery time is minimal

What Are the Disadvantages of Fat Transfer/Fat Grafting?

As advantageous as a fat transfer/fat grafting is for your skin and your appearance, there are, unfortunately a few cons as well. Disadvantages of fat transfer/fat grafting include:

  • Fat cells are eventually absorbed by the body, which means results longevity will vary from candidate to candidate
  • Fat transfers are slightly more complex and time-consuming procedures than dermal fillers
  • Fat transfers may need to be performed alongside another procedure to achieve the desired results

Dermal Fillers and Fat Transfers at Toronto Facial Plastic Surgery

Dr. Andres Gantous at Toronto Facial Plastic Surgery has well over 20 years of experience administering facial fillers like Botox, Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse, and more to help his clients look and feel their absolute best. He also specializes in fat transfer/fat grafting procedures for clients who prefer to go that route. Contact us today to schedule a preliminary consultation!

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