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Emma, a 35-year-old
Detroit woman spent years unable to look in the mirror because the left half of her face had sunken over time. She had already consulted with several doctors who said they couldn't help when she found
Brett Kotlus, M.D., a cosmetic and oculofacial plastic surgeon in
Shelby Township, Michigan. He diagnosed her with a rare and poorly-understood condition called Parry-Romberg Syndrome (or Progressive Hemifacial Atrophy) that causes shrinkage of skin, fat, and bone of one half of the face. Dr. Kotlus was able to dramatically improve her disfigurement and restore her self-confidence by injecting fat taken from her waist into the collapsed areas of her face.
The disease had affected Emma's desire to participate in social activities and had dramatically hurt her self-esteem. "People would ask me what happened to my face when I was out," said Emma, a native Detroiter who works for the city. "I basically just went to work and went right home because I was so self-conscious about how I looked."
Dr. Kotlus performed a mini-liposuction procedure to remove fat cells from around her belly-button. The fat was artistically transplanted, virtually cell-by-cell, to the shrunken areas on the left side of Emma's face. "The same specialized fat transfer techniques that I use for cosmetic facial enhancement were useful in this situation. Studies have shown that a majority of the newly-located fat will flourish in its transplanted location. The fatty tissue is surrounded by a rich supply of progenitor cells, also known as stem cells, which I believe are responsible in part for the profound benefits of this procedure," explained Dr. Kotlus. "Using the unaffected side of Emma's face as a template, I was able to help her regain symmetry. Being able to help her in this way is both professionally and personally rewarding for me."