Written by Michael D. Marion, MD
Exciting things are happening in the world of plastic surgery and the hottest of them all might involve fat. In April, the FDA approved Kybella, an injectable substance that dissolves unwanted fat under the chin. This is an effective treatment for adults with moderate-to-severe fat below the chin. Kybella is similar to deoxycholic acid, which is produced in the body. Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring molecule that helps the body absorb and break down dietary fats. When Kybella is injected into submental fat, it physically destroys the cell membrane, destroying the fat cells. Your plastic surgeon can perform this minimally invasive procedure in office with excellent results. It is predicted that in time Kybella may gain FDA approval for fat reduction in other areas of the body.
There is a lot of talk about Kybella revolutionizing the cosmetic industry by destroying unwanted fat, but another major trend in cosmetic surgery involves adding fat to the face and body. Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer, is the process of removing unwanted fat from areas in the body like stomach, thighs and hips and relocating it to more desirable areas like the face and breasts, giving patients a more youthful look. The fat is removed with a liposuction cannula and prepared for reintroduction into the body through injection. As individuals age they lose fat and volume in their face and the skin loses its elasticity. A youthful face is heart shaped; the fullness is in the cheeks and narrows at the chin. Age turns the heart shape upside down, with the loss of fat and sagging skin. Temples and eye sockets are hollowed and the sagging skin forms jowls. Restoring volume to the face is the key to facial rejuvenation and this can be done with soft tissue fillers, biostimulating agents like Bellafill and Sculptra, and fat. Some of the appeal of the minimally invasive procedure of fat transfer is that unwanted fat is removed from certain areas of the body, and the body does not reject its own fat, so results tend to be natural and long lasting.
Liposuction is the gold standard and is consistently and predictability a top cosmetic procedure which removes fat from different areas of the body with minimal scarring. If the thought of liposuction sounds like too much, then CoolSculpting might be for you. CoolSculpting is a non-surgical, non-invasive body contouring procedure that eliminates unwanted fat. CoolSculpting works by freezing fat cells in targeted areas, which eliminates them from your body over several weeks. There is virtually no downtime other than the 60 minutes you sit while having the procedure. CoolSculpting is for spot treating areas like love handles, stomach, arm and thighs. For optimum results at least two sessions per area are recommended.