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Fat injections are a common method today for soft tissue augmentation whether it is for reconstructive or aesthetic purposes. An injection approach offers a versatile method of instilling a soft tissue graft in almost any anatomic location. How successful such fat injections are depends on a variety of factors from method of harvest and preparation to how they are injected. As a result numerous methodologies have been espoused by surgeons in an effort to optimize these variables.

One variable which has limited ability to be controlled is the site of fat harvest. In larger volume fat injections, usually for body procedures, there is limited options for the donor site since only the abdomen and flanks offers enough volume for harvest. But in facial fat injections donor site options are far greater due to the lower volume of injectate needed. Thus consideration of the potential differences in donor sites can be considered.

One donor site for facial fat injections is an inadvertent one…the buccal lipectomy. Producing as much as 3ccs per side buccal fat offers a regional door site if such defatting it being done anyway. It is a different donor both in fat texture and color. Since it is not being harvested by liposuction it has to be processed to be injectable. Once process it can readily be seen that it has a more pale yellow color than that of abdominal fat.

Do these differences make buccal fat a more fat for injection? It clearly is fat that has a different adipocyte makeup and biologic purpose. But whether that translate into fat that can better survive an injection transplantation process is unknown. Thus the primary reason to use it is for its availability due to the buccal lipectomy procedure. 

Dr. Barry Eppley

World-Renowned Plastic Surgeon

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