Bizarre as it may sound, unwanted body fat has its uses. The fat you hate so much may be the elusive potion of youth that can make you look younger. And, when injected in the right places, also help you look as good as new.
Fat is one of the richest sources of adult stem cells and is almost always available for free. Instead of going for artificial fillers, cosmetic surgeons are now using unwanted fat from love handles, bellies and thighs to plump up sagging skin. While the concept has been around for some years, it’s become popular recently as a rejuvenating tool.
The technique, called structural fat grafting, uses ultrasonic energy to emulsify and remove fat cells without damaging them. These are then purified and injected.
The technique is currently being used to plump up facial wrinkles and lips. What makes fat-fillers different from artificial ones is the ability of stem cells in purified fat to improve the quality of facial skin by stimulating regeneration. The implantation is as natural as it gets because the cells have been harvested from your own body!
The cost varies depending on the area covered, with a face makeover priced between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000. Plumping up your lips, however, is cheaper and costs between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000. Each sitting lasts for one hour to two hours, again depending on the amount of fillers injected.
The effect is permanent, but be prepared for around 30 per cent of the fat to reabsorbed by the body over the first nine months to a year. Cosmetic surgeons inject slightly larger amounts than desired to compensate for this loss.
The applications of the technique are not limited to the face alone. Structural fat grafting is being used to enhance bust size, with the only limitation being modest improvements in size in one go. If done over two-three sittings, however, natural breast augmentation using your own tissue implants can do away with the need for artificial implants. The cost is between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000 per sitting — only 100 to 150 cc of fat can be injected in one sitting — which takes the final price to Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 1.8 lakh — no more than the cost of an artificial implant.
The applications go beyond cosmetic ones as the technique is also being used to treat leg ulcers in people with diabetes. As you can see, the possibilities are endless!
Dr Sunil Choudhary is the director of aesthetic & reconstructive surgery, Max Healthcare, New Delhi.