How does a fat transfer work? Plus more FAQs

Basically, a fat transfer is exactly what it sounds like—your plastic surgeon transfers fat from one area of the body to another. However, the actual procedure is highly customizable and requires considerable skill and experience to achieve great results. First, fat is removed from your pre-determined areas using liposuction. In addition to taking away unwanted fat, your plastic surgeon will sculpt a smoother, natural shape to the area. Next, the fat is placed in a special machine that purifies it, so the cells are more likely to survive in their new home. In the final step, the fat is injected in the area(s) you want to enhance (i.e., buttocks, hands, breasts, or face).

Improvements are noticeable immediately, and results continue to improve as the injected fat adapts to its new location and post-procedure swelling subsides. Within several months, you’ll be enjoying your new, natural contours for years to come.

Where can I transfer fat?

Can you imagine slimming your belly or thighs while also getting a little more shape to your derriere? Could you use a slight boost in breast size, but not if it means implants? Or, perhaps your face and hands could use some youthful volume, while your stubborn belly has plenty to give? A fat transfer can achieve any of these goals and more.

A qualified, experienced plastic surgeon can customize a fat transfer to both reduce your problem areas and add or restore volume to features that you’d like to boost. The result? A dramatic improvement in your proportions and appearance in just one procedure. Popular focus points for fat transfer include:

  • Facial fat grafting: Dermal fillers are fab, but the effects are temporary and costs can add up over time. By using your own fat as a filler, we can restore volume to aging cheeks, smooth sagging lower eyelids, reduce deep creases, or enhance the lips. Learn more about facial fat grafting »
  • Hand rejuvenation: Other than your face, your hands are the most consistently visible part of your body—and the aging process can take its toll. Fat injections can rejuvenate thin, bony hands and minimize visible veins and tendons to restore a smooth, soft and elegant appearance you’ll be proud to show off.
  • Buttock enhancement (a.k.a. Brazilian butt lift): Gone are the days when buttock augmentation meant less-than-natural-looking implants. With fat grafting, our plastic surgeons can remove fat from areas surrounding the buttocks (belly, hips, thighs and/or lower back) and inject fat into the buttocks to enhance size and shape. This dual procedure allows us to sculpt a nice “frame” for the buttocks while also increasing their size and achieving a rounder, fuller look.
  • Breast enhancement: Fat grafting can be an excellent option to achieve a modest increase in breast size, improve breast shape and symmetry without implants, or enhance the results of breast implant surgery.
  • Body contouring: If you’d like a more hourglass silhouette, or you feel your body is out of proportion in some respect, a fat transfer procedure can achieve your goals beautifully and naturally by redistributing your fat. The ultimate result—your body will be leaner with better contours, and you will have a natural cosmetic solution for multiple “problem” areas.

Am I a good candidate for fat transfer?

A body fat transfer is an excellent, versatile procedure that can make dramatic improvements in multiple areas of your body without implants, artificial fillers, or large scars. But there’s one big consideration—you have to have adequate fat stores to remove to achieve your goals. How much fat is enough fat? This depends on your goals, the areas you’d like to volumize with fat, and how much fat is needed to achieve a natural, noticeable improvement.

In general, you’ll need more fat available for removal if you’re interested in the following:

  • Brazilian butt lift (a.k.a buttock fat transfer)
  • Fat transfer breast augmentation
  • Body contouring with fat transfer

On the other hand, even most lean patients have adequate fat to achieve optimal results for facial fat grafting, hand rejuvenation, or small scar treatments.

Other factors that determine whether or not fat grafting is appropriate include:

  • The degree of enhancement you are hoping to achieve. Fat grafting is excellent for achieving modest enhancements, but if you are hoping for dramatic size increases in certain areas, a fat transfer may not be the best option (i.e. breast augmentation of a cup size or more typically requires implants).
  • Your medical history. Transferred fat needs a healthy blood supply to successfully “take,” so patients with circulation problems or smokers are usually not good candidates.
  • Your desire for permanent results. Unlike fillers, which absorb over time, or implants, which can be removed or replaced, a fat transfer is considered permanent. Although fluctuations in weight and aging can affect your results over time, fat grafting is usually not reversible.