What to expect with a fat transfer to the face

Our San Diego plastic surgeons can perform facial fat grafting using local or general anesthesia, depending on your preferences and the extent of surgery. If you are having liposuction to remove the fat, your plastic surgeon will make a tiny incision in the area where fat will be taken, and carefully remove excess fat and sculpt a natural contour to that area.

Following liposuction, some or all of the fat removed will be placed in a special machine that purifies the fat and prepares it for optimal survival post-transfer. Then, a precise amount of fat is injected beneath the facial skin to plump out tissues and achieve a smoother, more youthful contour to your areas of concern.

Surgery typically takes a couple of hours to perform, possibly longer if you are also having facelift or eyelid surgery at the same time. As an outpatient procedure, you will be able to go home the same day as your procedure.

What is recovery like after facial fat grafting?

Since a fat transfer is entirely customized to your needs, the recovery protocol can vary widely from one patient to the next, depending on where you are having liposuction, how much fat is removed, and how much fat is injected into the face. Typically, patients wear a compression garment around the areas where liposuction was performed to control swelling and provide support.

Mild bruising, swelling, and tenderness in the injection areas on the face are common following a fat transfer; these symptoms typically peak a few days after surgery and subside dramatically over the next week or so. Patients typically return to work within 1 week, with camouflage makeup if desired. Only light activity is permitted for the first 3 to 4 weeks, and exercise can be gradually resumed about 1 month after surgery.

When will I see results after fat transfer to the face?

Even with our advanced techniques and experienced, board certified plastic surgeons performing a fat transfer, a minor portion of the fat is expected not to survive the transfer. Therefore, we may initially inject a little bit more fat than what is needed to achieve your final results. This, plus normal post-procedure swelling, can obscure your results at first.

But don’t worry—most bruising and swelling resolve within a week or two, and most patients are pleased with the more youthful, smooth face they see in the mirror even early in their recovery. Results will continue to improve over several months and are considered final about 6 months after surgery.

How long will facial fat transfer results last?

One of the key advantages of a fat transfer over other filler treatments is that the results can last for years. The transferred fat cells that establish a blood supply in their new area will live indefinitely, just like they did in their previous home, and their volumizing effect will last for years, not months. However, it’s important to understand that no procedure can stop the normal aging process, and significant changes in weight can also affect your results by causing the fat cells to grow or shrink.

To ensure your results look their best for the long-term, it’s important to maintain a stable weight and practice a high-quality skincare regime, including daily SPF application.

Questions? We’re happy to help

If you have more questions about facial fat grafting surgery, recovery, or goals, our experienced plastic surgeons can help you learn all you need to know during a free personal consultation. Contact us to get started.