University Aesthetic Plastic Surgery - Facial Fat Grafting or Transfer

Age robs our faces of youthful fat, often resulting in a sunken or hollow facial appearance. Facial fat transfer is safe and natural, and its results are permanent.  

What is a facial fat grafting or transfer? 

Facial fat transfer is a cosmetic surgical procedure in which fat taken from another part of a patient’s body is “transferred” to the face, giving it a fuller appearance while also filling creases and wrinkles. The fat is injected in the area where greater fullness and contour change is desired. 

How does facial fat transfer work? 

Liposuction is used to extract fat. Fat is harvested from a “donor area” of your body, such as your abdomen or buttocks. The suctioned fat is then grafted into targeted areas of your face. Since the transferred fat is your own, your body is extremely unlikely to reject it, and the possibility of an allergic reaction is virtually eliminated. 

Facial Fat Transfer Benefits 

Your fatty tissue is used to fill in the grooves, hollows, and wrinkles on your face. Facial fat transfer can address your cheeks, temples, chin, lips, the areas under your eyes, and those long deep lines that extend from the bottom of your nose to your lips (medically known as the nasolabial folds). The technique will improve the look of your forehead lines and any facial scars you may have. 

Facial fat transfer is a one-time procedure, so it can be more affordable than other surgeries that may require multiple follow-ups. But the “revolutionary” concept of this technique is that it uses your tissue rather than other types of facial fillers. 

Am I a good candidate for facial fat transfer? 

If you are a healthy woman or man who has lost facial volume due to aging or heredity, you are likely an excellent candidate. “Perfect” candidates are patients who also have sufficient fat cells in their “donor sites,” such as their abdomen or buttocks. 

Smokers and people who regularly take blood thinners are not ideal candidates, and may in some cases, be disqualified. 

Selecting a doctor 

While facial fat transfer is considered a particularly safe procedure, it requires a skilled, trained, and experienced surgeon. Selecting the right doctor is the most important decision you will make in considering whether to have a facial fat transfer. Insist on a board-certified surgeon who will listen carefully to your stated goals and objectives.  

Preparing for your facial fat transfer 

While you may be able to return to work after a week or so following your procedure, make sure you can allot a sufficient amount of “downtime” to allow you to heal and recoup fully. 

Make sure you have arranged for someone to drive you home after your surgery. It’s also a good idea to line up some “help around the house” for at least a few days. 

Facial Fat Grafting or Transfer Procedure 

Fat transfer is a more extensive procedure than the use of “off the shelf'' soft-tissue fillers. Dr. Wilson will determine what ‘donor areas'  of your body will be used to harvest fat. Your surgery typically will last about an hour, using either general or local anesthesia. After using liposuction to remove fat cells from your “donor areas,” he will process the fat into a liquified form, before injecting small amounts of the harvested fat into targeted areas of your face. The injected fat is then carefully distributed to provide the younger, fresher facial appearance you desire. 

Facial Fat Grafting Recovery 

You’ll need to avoid strenuous physical activity for a while. Your doctor will provide you with detailed postoperative and aftercare instructions. The use of ice packs may be helpful for a couple of days to reduce swelling and any discomfort. Some temporary bruising is to be expected. Most patients feel confident returning to their regular social and public lives in two or three weeks. 

Facial Fat Grafting Results 

You’ll notice your new facial fullness and improved contours immediately, although your full benefits will only become apparent once you have completely healed from your surgery. Your final results will be assessed after three months. Because your body absorbs some of the fat transferred to your face, surgeons take that into account when determining the amount of fat needed to give you the results you want. 


The cost of your facial fat transfer will depend on the number and sites of the areas treated. The more treatment areas you opt for, the more your procedure will cost. But, again, remember that because your results are permanent, facial fat transfer may be more affordable than the use of other “filler” techniques that require periodic “tune-ups.” 


All surgeries carry risks, including infection, bleeding, complications from anesthesia, and allergic reaction to medications and materials. Facial fat transfer patients will experience minor swelling and bruising immediately following surgery, which lasts between four weeks and six months.