Charene Nagel wanted to get rid of some lines on her face by her nose and mouth that she says always left her looking angry.
"I used to get people who say why are you looking so mad or what are you frowning at and I would say, 'I'm not frowing,'" said Nagel.
She'd heard about all the fillers available and Botox, but she wanted something more natural and longer lasting.
She decided to try fat transplantation, also known as fat grafting.
Charene had the procedure done by Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few. It involves liposuction and then reusing that fat.
"You're taking fat from an area that is often unwanted and you're using it for something good," said Few.
"I got a twofer, and he took away some of the love handles as we call it," said Nagel.
New York plastic surgeon Ulysses Scarpidis says he took fat from Nina's thigh to plump up her face.
"There is this area right here under my eyes that alternates between wrinkly and baggy and or dark circles," said Scarpidis.
Scarpidis claims to be taking traditional fat injections to the next level.
Before it's injected into a patient, Scarpidis mixes a cocktail of growth factors, proteins and peptides to rev up the stem cells in the fat. He says it tells them to "turn back the clock."
"They're more resilient. They survive longer and they're younger and better."
Scarpidis says the stem cell-activated fat adds volume, improves skin texture and color.
Few has been performing traditional fat grafting for 11 years now and says he gets great results.
Both techniques will cost in a range from between $3,000 to $5,000 and can last from five to seven years.
Artificial fillers such as Botox last about nine months.
So, the initial cost is more, but doctors say it is actually cheaper in the long run since you don't have to do it as often.
Fat grafting is used to plump faces, eyelids, hands, behinds and in some cases, even breasts.
Complications can include infection and bleeding but are said to be rare, because the cells are a natural substance in your own body fat.
"There's actually the highest concentration of stem cells in adult fat versus any other part of the body," said cosmetic surgeon Dr. Roger Bassin.
Few added that the operation is not for everyone. People with paper-thin skin that hangs may need a facelift.
He also emphasized that any cosmetic procedure only works if it is accompanied by taking care of your skin, using sunblock, eating well and having a healthy lifestyle.
Few said fat grafting is an extremely delicate procedure, so it is important for patients to see someone who is experienced.
He added that people considering fat grafting should also understand the risks of the procedure.
Dr. Julius Few
875 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Ill. 60611