I Got A Boomerang Lift For My Sullen Under Eyes & This Is What Happened

The results are even better than I expected.

Taryn Brooke
boomerang lift before and after

“I had the fat from my a** injected into my face. Look, like a baby’s bottom.” Perhaps not the most popular quote from Sex and the City, but this scene from season 2 of the iconic HBO show sticks out to me as of late. It’s because I recently had my own fat injected into my face when I got a Boomerang Lift — only mine was from my stomach. While fat injections – a single surgery that’s known as both fat grafting and fat transfer – isn’t a new procedure, it’s currently having a moment in the spotlight.

Commonly performed to enhance the cosmetic appearance of the face, fat grafting is a surgical procedure that uses your own fat to fill areas of the face to address volume loss. It offers a permanent solution to replace facial fat with a much more natural result, compared to hyaluronic acid-based fillers. And experts in the aesthetics space expect it to grow in the coming years as more people tire of fillers and want to address facial fat loss due to the use of weight loss drugs, such as Ozempic. “[A]s the use of Ozempic becomes more widespread, and the long-term effects of weight loss from the use of it become more evident to patients, it is possible that we will see a further increase in patients seeking fat transfer to the face,” says Dr. Peter Lee, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon and CEO of WAVE Plastic Surgery in Los Angeles.

While my reasons for seeking a fat transfer are unrelated to Ozempic, they were born out of a desire to seek a permanent, natural-looking fix to volume loss around my under eyes and temples — a common product of age. After having had an unfavorable reaction to under-eye filler a few years ago, I already knew that it would not be a great option for me to replace larger areas of volume loss in my face. I ultimately decided on the Boomerang Lift, a specific fat grafting procedure pioneered by Dr. Oren Tepper, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon and cofounder of Greenwich Street 497 Aesthetics in New York City, that addresses volume loss in those aforementioned areas. After contemplating the surgery for some time, I was finally ready to recapture the volume in my face that time had taken from me and boost my confidence in the process. It wasn’t that I needed the surgery — it was that I wanted it. For me.

Read on to learn about the specifics of fat grafting, what the Boomerang Lift is, as well my surgical experience and results.

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What Is Fat Grafting?

The surgical procedure involves taking fat, by means of liposuction, from one part of the body, frequently the abdomen or flanks, harvesting it, and then reintroducing “the harvested fat to another part of the body, typically the face, including the tear troughs, temples, nasolabial folds, cheeks, chin, and forehead,” explains Lee. While facial fat grafting is a “freestanding surgery to add volume and reshape the faces of younger patients, we also use it adjunctively in patients who are undergoing facelifts, brow lifts, and blepharoplasties,” adds Lee.

Though fat grafting dates back to the late 19th century, it’s only as of recent that the procedure has been, if you will, perfected. “For the last 20 years, people have really seen the value of fat grafting in a more nuanced way,” says Tepper. The nuance of it, he says, is in how the fat is prepared [separated from the lipoaspirate] once it’s removed to then be injected. “It can be done by letting it settle with gravity, spinning (centrifuge), or you can pour it out and roll it on a certain gauze.” It is then placed in a filler-like syringe and injected into the areas of the face where there is volume loss.

Fat, unlike filler, is a live substance and sometimes it’s difficult to predict how much, when injected into the face, will redevelop a blood supply and survive in the skin and what portion of it will die. “We say about 50%, a number we use across the board in our specialty, is the amount of fat that survives the transfer,” adds Tepper. “However, if done correctly and with the right amounts, you end up closer to around 70% survival, [specifically in the under eye region]. It’s a lower volume injection and it’s in an area that happens to take the engraftment a little better than elsewhere.”

Another major difference between most fillers and fat grafting is that the latter is permanent and will not migrate — it remains in the same area where it was injected. However, its permanence does not stop the aging process and it’s not unheard of to come back in for more fat grafting several years or up to 10 or more years after your initial procedure. “We can’t stop the aging process from continuing. You will continue to lose volume from your cheek at the same rate we would have expected and you’ll lose volume from your temple at the [same] rate as well,” says Tepper.

What Is The Boomerang Lift?

The Boomerang Lift is Tepper’s “fancy name for fat grafting to the cheeks and eyelids.” He describes it simply as a “targeted approach” to deliver fat, specifically to the cheek area. Having performed this aptly-titled surgery for over 10 years, the reason behind the name is an anatomical one. In a study that he co-authored, Tepper saw in 3D pictures of fat grafting patients who had volume added to the cheeks, that the surface area where the fat was administered formed the shape of a boomerang. “The whole concept is, we realize that fat in the right areas is beneficial for a youthful look. Not only can it be more aesthetic, but it can really add structure to the face,” he says.

This procedure is most effective for three concerns. “One is, when people have their volume in their cheek that falls, you restore some of that volume [with their own fat]. The second, is [that] it blends the eyelid, the lower eyelid and the cheek junction, and the areas near the tear trough. The tear trough is that semi circle that sits beneath your eye and it’s very distinct,” explains Tepper. “[That area] bothers a lot of men and women, so by adding volume, you’re blending that junction. And then, third, it adds structure to your cheekbone. Aesthetically speaking, it looks great and it can really help with some of the wrinkles around the lower eyelid.”

Tepper performs the Boomerang Lift as a standalone procedure mostly on people in their 20s and 30s (myself included). Though it may sound like young ages for facial rejuvenation surgery, everyone’s anatomy is different, and it’s not unusual for someone in that stated age group to genetically or anatomically lose volume in the middle portion of the face. He also has a subset of patients over the age of 40 who have the Boomerang Lift performed as an adjunct to a facelift or is used to enhance the results of a previous surgery. As a standalone, he performs the Boomerang Lift on about 25% of his cosmetic patients.

The cost of the Boomerang Lift will run you about $10,000 to $15,000, with the latter being the price of the Extended Boomerang Lift, which is what I received. Each additional area that you want grafted will tack on an extra $2,500-$5,000.

My face before my Boomerang Lift. Courtesy of Taryn Brooke

Who Is A Good Candidate For The Boomerang Lift/Fat Grafting?

Any patient who needs increased volume can be a good candidate for a fat transfer, says Dr. Melissa Doft, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “For a freestanding fat transfer, the ideal patient will have good skin contractility, and only minimal or moderate descent of the soft tissues of the face associated with aging. However, patients who suffer from the latter, can also benefit from fat transfer performed in concert with another procedure, such as a facelift,” adds Lee.

Tepper says that it is recommended that if you have under-eye filler prior to surgery to have it dissolved, as he prefers to work with a “fresh canvas.” He says that while there is no contraindication with fillers because the fat injections are going underneath where filler is normally injected, it’s more of an aesthetic issue and you may not get the right amount of fat needed if filler is present.

The Risks Associated With Fat Grafting

No plastic surgery procedure comes without potential side effects. “The risks of fat transfer are typical of surgeries in general: infection, asymmetries between the two sides of the face, insufficient survival of the fat transferred, and the possible need for additional procedures in the future,” says Lee. Generally speaking, it’s a safe procedure and complications aren’t common. “It is possible that fat transferred from, say the abdomen, might grow if the patient gained weight, but the amount of weight a patient would have to gain to see this effect would need to be very significant,” Lee adds.

However, fat transfer to parts of the body other than the face can be more dangerous, such as the buttocks where the risks of fat entering the blood vessels are all too real. “The whole problem with fat grafting is you don’t want to inject into the blood vessels — that is what we call an intravascular injection,” says Tepper.

My Experience Getting A Boomerang Lift

My surgery took about an hour and was performed under anesthesia. Once I was under, Tepper created an access incision, (or a tiny little port/opening) to allow for the cannula to liposuction the fat from my stomach. One access incision was right under my belly button and the other was at the lower part of my abdomen. He performed tumescent liposuction, which is different from traditional liposuction in that medicine is added to minimize bleeding. It was performed manually and not with a power-assisted liposuction machine that generates vibrations as the fat is pulled out. Apologies for the graphics.

After liposuctioning my stomach, Dr. Tepper gently harvested the fat by hand in order to prepare it for the injections. He let my fat sit for about 20 minutes. “Once the fluid starts to settle, you get a fluid layer and a cell layer. We then pour the fluid off and we have the cell layer and then I like to roll the fat out on the table. We then just roll that fat onto some non-stick gauze, which helps to get rid of some of the excess fluid. You’re really trying to populate a dense cell population,” explains Dr. Tepper. The process he used to harvest the fat created nanofat, which is a type of fat that is highly rich in stem cells and is used in areas of the face to help repair tissue and improve skin quality, especially in the eye region.

My face marked up with where the fat would be injected. Courtesy of Taryn Booke

Once the fat was fully strained, Tepper placed it into syringes, measuring approximately 1 milliliter (mL). He used a fine cannula, similar to what is used when blood is drawn, which he says is much more gentle for when you’re injecting a substance such as fat. The access sites, or places on the face where he would be placing the cannula, was at the corner of my eyebrows to fill my under-eye area, and then the hairline to fill my temples. Both areas hid the injection site, making it practically undetectable as to where he even placed the cannula. Tepper injected the fat under my muscle and just above the bone and injected “about 20% over” to address the amount of volume loss in my face, accounting for the amount of fat that would actually survive the transfer.

When I woke up from the anesthesia and once I was conscious enough to look in a mirror, I immediately saw the results. I looked completely different but I also knew that I was swollen and that the fat would eventually settle and my face would deflate. At that moment though, my under-eyes and temples were full. I was in no pain and I had minimal discomfort in my stomach (where I had the liposuction). I was extremely happy.

Over the next couple of days I began to bruise at my temples and I developed a black eye on my left side — which is completely normal for fat grafting to this area. My right eye was spared, but I did notice that I developed a really cool looking purple winged eyeliner bruise at the corners of both of my eyes. Per doctor’s orders, I rested and stayed in my apartment for the next three days. By the fourth day, I was able to head outside with some concealer to hide my bruises and go about my day normally. The only thing that truly slowed me down was my bruised stomach from the liposuction that I had to be extra cautious of.

Aftercare Post-Boomerang Lift

Aftercare for the Boomerang Lift was pretty simple and easy. After I got home from having the procedure, I began a course of oral antibiotics to prevent an infection and oral steroids to minimize swelling. I stayed home for three days post-procedure to rest and also because I was swollen, bruised, and didn’t look like myself. By day four post-procedure I was almost back to feeling like myself. I avoided my normal active-rich skin care routine for about five days and I returned to working out a week after surgery, as advised by Tepper.

My face three days post-Boomerang Lift. Courtesy of Taryn Brooke

In regard to in-office treatments such as various non-ablative lasers and Botox, Tepper recommends waiting a week after surgery to do any of them. You can resume getting filler in other areas of the face the next day, such as your lips — if you’re really itching to stick more needles in your face after surgery, although, you should probably give yourself a little break.

My Final Results

Not only was the recovery process seamless, but the results of my Boomerang Lift has exceeded my expectations. The volume to my under eyes is completely restored, and my temples, which had appeared concave for most of my late 20s and early 30s, are rejuvenated and full in the most natural way possible. On top of lifting my brows, the fat injections to my temples tightened my skin. The ones under my eyes had a the same effect to my cheeks. I’ve noticed any wrinkling that would normally appear when I smile around my crows feet and lower eyelids are completely gone.

My face three weeks post-surgery. Courtesy of Taryn Brooke

Right now, I am about three weeks post-surgery and I look like a better, much more rejuvenated version of myself. The best way to describe my results, as cliché as it sounds, is that I look more youthful and I feel better about myself. Tepper’s expertise and skills as a surgeon had everything to do with that. He notes that at about four weeks post-surgery I should expect to see about 80% of my results, and at about two months post-surgery, I should expect to be at about 90-95%. The last 5%, he says, takes a little longer. I’m excited to for the the full outcome to unfold, but I’m enjoying what I see in the mirror right now.