Facial Fat Transfer

What is Facial Fat Transfer?

Facial fat transfer — also called autologous fat transfer — is a procedure in which an individual’s own body fat is used to plump up sunken or emaciated areas of the face. This procedure is used for improving the appearance of facial creases such as laugh lines, smile lines and crow’s feet. To correct these lines, fat is removed from the abdomen, thighs or other areas of the body and transferred by injection to the affected area in the face.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the facial fat transfer procedure is that it is completely natural. The material used to improve appearance is not a synthetic product; it is the fat taken from the patient’s own body - not from an animal or a cadaver. Also, the effects of facial fat transfer procedures are enduring; they last significantly longer than cosmetic injectable solutions like collagen, Restylane® or Juvéderm®

How Does It Work?

The facial fat transfer procedure is considered autologous because it uses the patient’s own fat to plump up sunken or emaciated areas of the face. During the initial consultation, the patient should disclose any pertinent medical information, including current habits, medications or supplements, so the physician can accurately determine whether he or she is a good candidate for fat transfer. The procedure itself is pain-free and consists of these three steps:

  • Fat removal: The physician will perform liposuction to remove fat cells from the jowls, abdomen, thighs or buttocks. These fat cells are removed from the donor site with a small-gauge hypodermic needle or a special tube that limits damage to the fat cells.
  • Isolating fat cells: This step involves isolating and cleansing the fat cells. The fat is placed in a centrifuge and spun at high speed to separate the fat cells from the liquid.
  • Re-injection of the fat: At this point, the physician has already identified the site for each fat injection and injects the fat cells into the targeted facial areas.

The facial areas that can be improved with fat injection treatment include the forehead, in between the eyebrows and the hollows under the eyes. Facial fat transfer helps to plump up or improve the contours around the nose, the area between the upper lip and nose, the jawline and the temples. This procedure can also help correct acne scars.

Recovery and Results

Following a fat transfer procedure, patients may experience some light swelling and/or bruising at the donor site or on the target sites on the face. The swelling typically reduces within a few days, and patients can control any discomfort with over-the-counter pain medications. Many patients return to their normal daily activities within 24 to 48 hours of the procedure.