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Posts Tagged ‘facial lipoatrophy’

A Facial Implant Approach To Volume Restoration in Facial Wasting (Severe Lipoatrophy)

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

 

Fat loss in the face is referred to as facial lipoatrophy. While some people have it occur naturally with aging or weight loss, for others it is a medication side effect. While retroviral drugs have extended the lives of patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), one of its well know side effects is the loss of the facial fat compartments. This has become known as facial wasting since it is an abnormal and active process. In facial lipoatrophy terms, there are various degrees of it classified as I through V. Many HIV positive patients have advanced type IV and V facial lipoatrophy appearances.

While facial wasting affects all fat layers in the face, its biggest impact is on the buccal fat pad. With its numerous fingers of fat that extend throughout the face and up into the temple region, loss of the buccal fat pad creates a skeletonized and hollow facial appearance. In its fullest extent, it makes one look ill and unhealthy and carries the social stigmata of someone who has the disease.

It has been shown that thymidine analogue drugs are the cause of this facial lipoatrophy effect. Recovery of some of the lost fat can be achieved with a switch to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-sparing therapies but it is slow and never complete.Various forms of plastic surgery are needed to create a more dramatic and immediate facial change.

Facial rejuvenation procedures for facial wasting is focused on volume restoration around  the periorbital region (eyes), specifically that of the cheeks and temple regions. The temple hollowing is a pure soft tissue deficit while that of the cheek area is a combined bone and soft tissue deficit. This is not to say that the cheek has lost bone but that it has become very skeletonized adn looks withered, thus cheek (malar = bone) and the area below the cheek (submalar = soft tissue) needs building back up.

While there are injectable treatments available to treat facial wasting, synthetic (Sculptra) and natural (fat), they have favorable degrees of effectiveness. Sculptra injections are for those patients who are definitely opposed to surgery and have the patience to wait until their fill effect is seen…and then have it repeated 18 to 24 months later. Fat injections are problematic both in harvest and persistence. Many facial wasting have little fat to harvest and its ability to survive in tissue beds with very little subcutaneous fat is precarious at best.

Temple Implants in Facial Wasting result front view Dr Barry Eppley Indianapolis_edited-1A facial implant approach can be very successful and create an immediate volume restoration with long-term stability. The temple hollowing is treated with new soft silicone elastomer temple implants that are placed below the fascia but on top of the muscle. This camouflages the implant edges and is a remarkably simple procedure to insert them with no postoperative pain, little swelling and a very quick recovery. They are far superior to any injectable filler because they are so effective. They key in using them is to not pout in a size that is too big which is very easy to do in a very skeletonized temporal region.

Cheek Implants for Facial Wasting Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisThe cheek area requires a very broad-based implant, part of which is placed below the cheek bone on the masseter muscle. Proper implant placement actually puts at least half if not more of the implant below the bone. While once submalar cheek implants were exclusively used, I have found that larger combined malar-submalar shell implants do a better job of midface volume restoration. Because these type of cheek implants are substantative in size, screw fixation is useful to keep them in the desired location as they heal.

One area that is left out with temple and malar-submalar shell implants is the intervening area over the zygomatic arch and immediately beneath it into the lower face. A complete facial wasting surgery includes implantation of this area as well but has to be done with either fat injections or preferably a dermal-fat graft placed through a limited facelift approach. Without filling in this area there can be a step-off in the face behind where the malar-submalar shell implant ends.

Facial wasting treatment is one specialized form of facial reshaping surgery. These procedures allowing for volume restoration of the face hopefully to a level that is close to what they looked like before starting their anti-viral drugs. With a more ‘plump’ face, one self-confidence is improved, they look healthier and they will be encouraged to stick with their long-term drug therapy.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Implants and Fat Grafting for the Treatment of HIV Facial Wasting

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Facial wasting is a very specific condition of the face in which specific areas of fat are resorbed and, in its severest form, is unique to the HIV patient taking retorviral medication. Nobody knows exactly why fat from the faces specifically goes away on people taking anti-HIV drugs, but a significant percentage of such patients will  experience it depending on their particular retroviral medication regimens. It seems to occur particularly in men of low body weight who are over the age of forty.

 

Facial wasting can present in a variety of appearances from subtle to very dramatic, based on the amount of fat under the skin that has been lost. Patients typically present with sunken-in cheeks, very prominent cheek bones not covered by the usual fat layer, and hollow temples. This also creates loose facial skin due to the lack of underlying fullness.

 

Facial wasting can be treated by a variety of plastic surgery methods. The most popularized is the injectable approach using Sculptra or other long-lasting fillers such as Radiesse. While injectable fillers definitely provide a benefit, I don’t find them to be the best value, given what they cost and the repeated treatment sessions necessary. In my experience, several surgical options are more effective with injectable fillers or fat grafts used to supplement them.

 

I find that cheek implants, specifically submalar implants, are a good foundation to  build out the sunken face. These implants come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes so some customization of them can be done for each patient. These implants provide a good fill of the lost volume of the buccal fat pad and are easy to place through an incision inside the mouth. Once in the proper position, I prefer to place a screw through them to hold them permanently to the underlying cheek bone. There is some mild swelling after surgery but one can go back to work and resume all normal activities within just a few days. The advantage of an implant is that its volume will remain stable over time unlike injectable fillers. I have yet to experience any infections with cheek implants in the HIV patient nor do I think that such patients are at an increased infection rate from such procedures.

 

But augmentation of the bony cheek and submalar area can treat the full extent of the facial wasting. This requires soft tissue augmentation using an injectable approach to fill in around the edges of the implants and beyond. Often there can be a step-off or obvious demarcation from the implant to the surrounding skin in cases where the facial wasting is quite severe. In more mild cases, this may not be necessary. Fat injections are very versatile but they require having some subcutaneous fat tissue into which to be placed. In severe facial wasting I have used dermal-fat grafts, harvested from the abdomen, to be placed below the cheek through a nasolabial incisional approach.

 

When the facial wasting is associated with loose skin, a modified facelift can also be very helpful. Changing the facelift to more of a jowl-neck tuck-up helps stretch out the loose cheek and facial skin. When done in combination with submalar cheek implants and fat grafts, some really nice facial improvements can be achieved.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Facial Lipoatrophy and Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The official birthday (200th) of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president from1861 to 1865, occurred on February 12, 2009.  Many states that had formerly observed Lincoln’s birthday have created a joint holiday to honor both Lincoln and our first president George Washington, known as Presidents Day. It coincides with the Federal holiday officially designated Washington’s Birthday, observed on the third Monday of February.

Abraham Lincoln had a very distinct face and it epitomizes the ‘gaunt look’. Based on photogtraphs, he had such a facial appearance since he was a young man but it became more pronounced as he got older. A story is told that at the age of 51, an eleven-year old child told him to grow a beard to make his face look fuller. He remained with a beard until his untimely death. Even with a beard, Lincoln’s face showed his sunken cheeks and a classic facial lipoatrophy appearance. Even a cursory look at his face on Mt. Rushmore shows how different his face appeared from the other presidents.

Facial lipoatrophy, sometimes referred to as facial wasting, is the loss of fat in the face usually in the cheek and temple areas. It is not necessarily loss of fat in all cases, in some it is simply that these fat areas never developed to any degree. It really represents a failure of adequate development of the buccal fat pad and all its extensions or a loss of this fat pad over time due to aging or certain medications. Facial lipoatrophy presents itself in five degrees of severity from the subtle type I, which usually represents as a mild congenital or natural gauntness to the face to the most severe type 5 which is best illustrated in the HIV patient where total loss of the buccal fat pad occurs due to the antiviral medications.

While a mild type 1 facial lipoatrophy appearance can be quite attractive when one is young (due to the appearance of high cheekbones), ongoing aging in one’s later years creates more of an unhealthy aged appearance. President Lincoln had  by the time of his presidency a type III or IV facial lipoatrophy condition. He had a very skeletonized face with completely sunken in submalar (below the cheekbones) areas that even his beard could not mask. His facial lipoatrophy condition was congenital or developmental in nature.

In severe facial lipoastrophy cases of the HIV patient, treatment of this facial appearance helps mask the stigmata of the disease. Various treatment options exist for the treatment of facial lipoatrophy and they can be tailored to how sunken the face appears. Most of the treatment approaches focus on the cheek or midface areas for enhancement by volume addition of fat through either fat injections or even dermal-fat grafts.

 Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

 

 

Submalar Cheek Implants for Facial Lipoatrophy

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Facial lipoatrophy is a not uncommon facial condition that all of us have seen but didn’t know exactly what to call it. Some people call it ‘gaunt looking’, others may refer to it as ‘hollowing’ of the face. No matter what you call it, it is the result of loss of the buccal (cheek) fat pad that lies directly under the cheekbone (zygoma) prominence. The fatty layer immediately underneath the skin throughout the fat thins as well but the dominant feature is the sunken or dented in area immediately beneath the cheek.
There are numerous causes of facial lipoatrophy but the most common are aging in an alreadly thin person, advanced cancer or immune disease with significant weight loss, and loss of the buccal fat pad due to medications. (such as in the HIV patient who is on antiviral medication) The facial appearance is classic with the loss of roundness in the middle part of the face and an actual indentation where th cheek fat used to be. This gaunt look creates an unfavorable appearance that appears old or unhealthy.
There are two distinctly different methods in plastic surgery to treat facial lipoatrophy and rebuilt this area up andout, either using injectable fillers (including fat) or a special type of cheek implant. Both obviously attempt to fill the cheek void left by the vacated fat pad but approach it differently. Injectable fillers replace it either with a viscous liquid component which may or may not be permanent. Most injectable fillers are not permanent. Inject fat could be permanent but is unpredictable. I have not been a big fan of the injectable fillers for the cheek deficiency of facial lipoatrophy simply due to the volume of the filler needed and the subsequent cost. It doesn’t take long before one can approximate the cost of a surgery. For a more assured result, albeit a surgical one but it provides the best value, is the use of a submalar cheek implant.
Submalar cheek implants are a variation of the traditional cheek implant. They are not designed to build out the cheekbone prominence but fill out the submalar area where the buccal fat pad partially lies. They are surgically placed through a small incision underneath the upper lip. Different sizes are available dependent upon how much of a deficiency exists in the submalar area. Submalar cheek implants are placed on the underside of the cheek bone and are secured into position with s small screw to hold their precarious but important position. The effect of the submalar cheek implant is immediate. There is really no recovery other than mild soreness and some swelling for a few days.
The treatment of facial lipoatrophy with a submalar cheek implant is easy, satrightforward, and effective. While it only treats one component of facial lipoatrophy, the buccal fat pad area in the midface, this is often the most recognized and disfiguring component of the problem. The material that the submalar cheek implant is made out of is not of particular importance, whether it be silicone rubber, gore-tex, or other well-tolerated facial implant material. An artistic eye for proper cheek implant style and selection and accurate placement on the underside of the cheek bone are the keys to a pleasing outcome that can make the face appear more healthy and youthful.
Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cheek Implants and Fat Grafting for Facial Lipoatrophy

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Facial lipoatrophy, sometimes referred to as facial wasting, is the loss of fat in the face usually in the cheek and temple areas. It is not necessarily loss of fat in all cases, in some it is simply that it was never there to start. It really represents a failure of adequate development of the buccal fat pad and all its extensions or a loss of this fat pad over time due to aging or certain medications. Facial lipoatrophy presents itself in five degrees of severity from the subtle type I, which usually represents as a mild congenital or natural gauntness to the face to the most severe type 5 which is best illustrated in the HIV patient where total loss of the buccal fat pad occurs due to the antiviral medications.
While a mild type 1 facial lipoatrophy appearance can be quite attractive when one is young (due to the appearance of high cheekbones), ongoing aging in one’s later years creates more of an unhealthy aged appearance. In severe facial lipoastrophy cases of the HIV patient, treatment of this facial appearance helps mask the stigmata of the disease. Various treatment options exist for the treatment of facial lipoatrophy and they can be tailored to how sunken the face appears. Most of the treatment approaches focus on the cheek or midface areas for enhancement or volume addition.
In miinor cases of submalar or cheek deficiency, many of the injectable fillers can be used. They are costly, require fairly large volumes, and are only temporary. Sculptra is the one injectable filler that has been specifically approved for facial lipoatrophy. It is essentially liquid ‘plastic’ and must be injected in layers over time. While it can be effective in the short-term, its development was based on its use in HIV patients who may not always be immunocompetent. Whether healthy patients with a normal imune system will adversely react to this filler more so than HIV patients remains to be seen. Such volumes of injectate for aesthetic applications make me a little nervous so I prefer other treatment approaches.
My preferred approach is the use of cheek, or to be more specific submalar, implants that sit below the cheek bone. This effectively pushes out the area where the buccal fat pad once was. The implants are placed through an incision inside the mouth and secured to the bone with screws. Additional implants can be placed over the upper jaw itself slightly in front of the submalar area. I have not seen any increase in infections or complications with the use of these implants, even in the HIV patient. Fat injections, using the patient’s own fat as a donor source, can then be done over the sides of the face where the implants do not create an effect. The entire facial enhancement could be done by fat injections alone but a lot of fat placed in not predictable in terms of survival in all cases. In some cases, I have used a dermal-fat graft placed through either a facelift or nasolabial fold incision. This fat transplant can be very effective if the patient has adequate donor tissue and can tolerate a harvest scar.
While this combined implant and fat grafting approach does not treat all the areas of facial deficiency, it does focus on the most aesthetic area of the midface.
Dr Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana


Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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