Facial Fat Transfer

Facial fat transfer, also referred to as facial fat grafting or facial fat injections, is a surgical procedure during which fat is taken from one area of the body and transferred to one of several areas on the face. The procedure is designed to fight the signs of aging caused by the depletion of proteins, fat, and various nutrients. It can be used as an enhancement to provide a fuller look to places such as the cheeks or lips. It can also be used to repair scars, and some surgeons use it as a form of reconstruction. Facial fat transfer is minimally invasive.

Yes Doctor’s Plastic Surgery Procedure Facial Fat Transfer

What is Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?

A facial fat transfer, commonly referred to as facial fat injections or facial fat grafting, is a surgical cosmetic procedure during which doctors take fat from one area of the body and transfer it to the face. It's meant to combat the signs of aging, nutrient depletion, and volume loss. As time goes by, the skin around the face loses its elasticity. Gravity pulls the features lower. The body stops producing proteins like collagen. Fat melts away, and bones start to reduce in size. All of this results in volume loss, which becomes most apparent in the nasolabial folds near the nostrils and corners of the mouth, the paranasal area around the nostrils, the lips, under the eyes, and the cheeks. Volume loss emphasizes aging. It makes patients look tired and sunken. The face will sag, and the natural, youthful glow will start to wane. Facial fat transfer can be used to reverse this effect, plumping lips, smoothing wrinkles and lines, bringing life back to the face. It's considered to be a more effective alternative to dermal filler injections, including those which make use of hyaluronic acid and collagen. The body tends to accept its own tissue better than synthetic chemicals or those harvested from somewhere else. 

Facial fat transfer operations have several steps. First, the patient receives either a local or general anesthetic. Sometimes the procedure is performed while they are awake, and sometimes they are put to sleep. The fat is then taken from what is known as a "donor site" such as the abdomen, around the belly button, inner or outer thigh, the hips, lower back, or flanks. Often patients and doctors will work together to find a site that they would like to contour, shape, or slim. The fat is harvested through the use of a cannula suction device, which is inserted into a small incision. Once the fat cells have been harvested, they are purified inside a centrifuge. Poor-quality cells are sorted from high-quality ones, and the highest-quality fat is injected into the recipient site on the facial area. Roughly 60% of the fat is accepted by the body, while the rest is metabolized through natural processes. This is considered to be more effective than alternative injections, such as dermal fillers. Fat transfer is prized because it has a two-tiered effect. It can be used to remove fat from the donor site, slimming the target area, before it is used to add volume on the face. 

Types of Facial Fat Transfer Procedure

  • Which Facial Fat Transfer Procedure is Right for You?

    Facial fat transfer is not for everyone. Patients should sit down with their doctor and talk about the pros and cons about undergoing the procedure. Some patients will not benefit from it at all, and some patients may find that it is exactly what they need to rejuvenate their appearance. In general, the procedure is considered to be a more permanent, effective alternative to filler injections such as Juvederm, which replenish chemicals that deplete with aging. Patients who are not responding to these types of treatments may find that facial fat transfer is the option for them. It can also help patients achieve a more drastic look. That isn't always the goal. Fat transfer is meant to look healthy and natural, smoothing skin and erasing lines. But it can have a more pronounced effect if that is what patients are going for. It's also great for achieving a full-body makeover. Since the procedure makes use of liposuction, it can be used to reshape portions of the physique while simultaneously rejuvenating facial features. The procedure is best for patients who are 30 or older. They should have a BMI of 22 or more, and they should be free of serious medical issues. They should also have one of the concerns listed below:

  • Lips

    As patients get older, their lips lose their natural plumpness. They decrease in size and elasticity, and eventually, creases begin to form around them. Nobody wants to be thin lipped. The effect is jarring, and it drastically reduces the natural beauty of the facial area. This usually occurs due to a loss of collagen and muscles, as well as the effects of gravity over time. Facial fat transfer is particularly effective in this part of the body. It smooths the skin, provides a lifting effect, and restores the full, youthful shape that so many people covet as they begin to age.

  • Lower Eye Socket

    Over time the lower eyesocket area begins to sag and lose volume, pulling the cheeks down with it, creating a tired effect. Bags build up. The skin folds into wrinkles and creases. It begins to thin, forming the notorious dark circles so many people work to erase. This becomes a serious source of insecurity for many patients. Facial fat transfer below the eyes smooths out those wrinkles and creases. It provides a lifting effect and makes patients appear less tired and worn out. It can also restore a more youthful appearance to the eye shape, and it helps smooth away crow's feet.

  • Cheeks

    Sagging cheeks can be a serious source of angst and insecurity for patients who are beginning to see the signs of aging. It gives them a resting angry face, dampening a once beautiful smile. This is often treated with a facial implant, which can be a risky source of infection and other side effects. For this reason, many patients choose to receive facial fat transfer instead. It will restore a fading smile, rejuvenate facial features, and provide a fuller look, while smooth out wrinkles and crow's feet. Many patients find that adding fat to this portion of the face really rounds out their appearance. It's not a drastic change, but it has a strong effect.

  • Around the Nose and Mouth

    The areas around the nose and mouth can form into creases and lines, creating some of the worst signs of aging in the facial area. Patients develop nasolabial folds starting from the sides of each nostril to the corners of the mouth, giving them a perpetual frown. Lines around the lips begin to appear, giving them a harsh, crackly appearance. They may also develop marionette lines, which appear at each side of the lips. These wrinkles and creases remind patients that they are getting older. They will feel like their looks are fading, and that if they want to maintain a youthful appearance, something must be done. Facial fat transfer seamlessly erases these issues.

Why Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?

For years, facelifts were the gold standard for erasing the effects of aging in the facial area. The procedure would involve skin removal, incisions, fat removal, implants, and painful alterations. The result was not always desirable. In fact, many patients would come away looking botched or worse off than before the operation was performed. Scientists began to look into the effects of aging on the face--and not just the sagging effects of gravity. They wanted to understand the genetic issues, the chemical composition behind the problem, and how that changed over time. They discovered that much of the material that creates a youthful appearance fades away. This included everything from bone to collagen and fat, all resulting in a loss of volume. They decided to ditch the old methods and come up with solutions that would allow them to replace that volume, smooth out wrinkles, lift the cheeks, plump the lips, and reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. Fat transfer is one of those solutions, and it's quickly replacing old methodology. In fact, most facelifts make use of it. The results are long-lasting, if not permanent. The effect is natural, and more often than not fat transfer can often be performed without the use of general anesthesia. Here are a few more reasons why facial fat transfer may be the right option:

  • Low risk of side effects
  • Removes fat from the wrong areas
  • Transfers fat to the right areas
  • Minimally invasive
  • Effective

What are Concerns for Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?

Before undergoing a facial fat transfer procedure, patients should always take the time to do their own research, understand what the procedure entails, and the effect it may have on them. They should also consult with their doctor, who should be performing a lengthy consultation, going over their unique concerns and their biology to build a treatment plan that fits them best. It is about communication and a commonsense, well-informed decision-making process. A facial fat transfer is a big step, and patients should have all of the information they need to decide whether or not it's right for them. That starts with determining if they're an ideal candidate for the procedure. Typically, the right candidate is over 30 years of age. That is who will benefit from the procedure the most. They should also have a BMI of 22 or higher. That way, doctors can be certain that the patient has enough fat cells to perform the transfer. Patients should also have areas of their face that are sunken or creased. Sometimes the procedure works for scarring as well. Most importantly, they should be in good health and a non-smoker. If the procedure involves general anesthesia then patients should go over any potential risks involved in that process. Once the patient and provider have determined that they're an ideal candidate, patients should go over some of the concerns below:

  • Side effects

    Facial fat transfer is a relatively risk-free, minimally invasive procedure. Many of the potential side effects and complications, such as bleeding and infection, come as a result of not working with a qualified professional. Patients should interview their doctors, find the right person, and ensure that they are experienced enough to perform the procedure safely. Some patients do experience swelling and bruising. These do go away with time. They may also have discoloration, seromas, bleeding, or lumps. If these occur, it is important to speak with a medical professional as soon as possible. For the most part, patients don't experience any side effects at all aside from a small amount of swelling.
  • Before Procedure

    Patients will be provided with a list of pre-operative instructions by their doctor. They should be followed closely. Before undergoing the procedure, patients should avoid sunbathing for 2 weeks. They should quit smoking and avoid any type of nicotine products for 4 weeks to ensure that the target sites heal properly. Be sure to stop all medications that contain blood-thinning ingredients, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and St. John's Wort, and always provide the doctor with a list of any medications including supplements during the consultation. Finally make sure to leave 1-2 weeks time for recovery after the procedure is performed. This should give the body time to heal.
  • After Procedure

    Patients will be provided with a list of instructions for their post-operative care. It is important that they are followed to avoid any serious side effects or complications. Sometimes patients may be asked to sleep on their backs with their heads elevated. This should last for about a week. They should avoid rubbing their face or putting pressure on their face for 2 weeks. Soft washing is strongly advised. They may have to wear surgical tape on the facial area for 5 days. They should be able to return to work after a recovery time of 1-2 weeks, but this varies patient by patient. Also avoid any strenuous exercise for about 2 weeks.

Steps to getting your procedure


Step 1


Step 2

Matching with a doctor

Step 3

Getting financing

Step 4

Booking a consultation

Why Yes Doctor for Facial Fat Transfer

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, research is essential. That process starts with finding a good provider, someone with experience and skill, who understands the importance of building a cohesive doctor-patient relationship. Patients should also have a firm understanding of the work they'd like to have done, the side effects, expected results, and recovery time, so they can find something that fits their needs and their unique health concerns. Yes Doctor provides patients with a wealth of information on various procedures and a full, searchable network of providers complete with reviews and biographical data. Patients can even apply for financing on our site without hurting their credit score. Many already qualify for 0% financing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some patients do experience a period of excess swelling after receiving a facial fat transfer. The recipient site may appear bloated or even botched. But after about 1-2 weeks, the swelling will go down, and the results will become apparent. Many doctors like to inject more fat than necessary because the body rejects about 30-40% of the transferred cells. This can be a common concern for many patients, but there's no reason to worry. The cells are metabolized naturally after about 6-12 months, long after swelling resides. In general, fat transfers are a relatively simple procedure, and they're quite effective. The success rate is high.
Many patients like to receive fat transfer because it involves liposuction. They think that because fat is removed from the body, it will help them lose weight. But liposuction is not a weight loss procedure. In fact, it is rarely suggested for patients who are over their ideal body weight. They may not see the results they're looking for, and extensive liposuction comes with serious risks. The amount of fat cells taken from the body during fat transfer is negligible, often less than a few pounds, and normally no more than a few ounces. The goal is not fat loss. Instead, doctors use liposuction to sculpt and contour the physique.
Many members of the public are prejudiced against facial fat transfer. They don't like the idea of having fat taken from the hips or buttocks and placed somewhere like the lips or cheeks. They may consider the process unsanitary or somewhat vulgar. But that is based on a misunderstanding of facial fat transfer and what it entails. The fat can be taken from many different donor sites, and after doctors remove the fat cells, they purify it, purging any unwanted microbes and low-quality cells, leaving only the most desirable cells behind. Nothing strange or impure is injected into the recipient site. There's little chance of infection or some type of strange contamination. That is nothing more than prejudice.
There are a lot of horror stories surrounding liposuction, and like any procedure, it does come with its own set of risks. But the type of liposuction used during a facial fat transfer is usually localized around small regions. It only results in complications about 2.4% of the time. Sometimes patients experience lumpiness, scarring, bruising, and swelling. They may also experience side effects from general anesthesia. Major complications include clotting, internal bleeding, fluid beneath the skin, burns, infections, necrosis, as well as heart and kidney problems. All of these things can usually be avoided by finding an experienced practitioner and following any post-operative instructions.