Facial Fat Grafting
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Facial volume is the sign of youth

Turn back the clock on this aging process by augmenting your facial volume using the most natural, permanent “filler”:  your own fat

As we age, our facial fat pads deflate, especially in the upper and mid face. The goal of facial fat grafting, sometimes called fat transfer or “liposculpture” is to reset the clock on this aging process. The facial fat pads in the temples, the brows, malar region (cheek) are specific regions where we have deflation occurring as we age. This process, along with an accumulation of fat in the lower, namely the jowls and underneath the chin, turns the face from a triangle with the apex (narrow tip) down, to an upside down triangle with the tip up (see diagram). Along with the change in the skin texture (wrinkling), this volume loss is one of the most obvious changes that illustrates the aging process.


The process of fat grafting starts with the harvesting of donor fat cells from regions of the body that tend to have an over-abundance of fat cells: abdomen and flanks (usually in men), and outer and inner thighs and knees (usually in women). The harvesting procedure is identical to liposuction that is performed for body contouring, with one exception: the amount of fat harvested is much less for facial fat grafting. The fat is then centrifuged to remove any unwanted fluid or blood, and the pure fat cells are then transferred to smaller syringes and injected with very fine cannula’s into the areas that require volume. The injection is performed through multiple small openings in skin that are created with a needle so that there is no visible scarring. Technique is extremely important to avoid unwanted contour defects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is an ideal candidate for facial fat grafting?

Facial volume loss starts in the late 30’s and continues as we age, so by the time we are in our early 50’s most patients would benefit from fat grafting. One needs to have some fat reserves in the body to harvest the fat. Most patients have enough fat for transfer, but patients that are extremely fit or thin, may not be good candidates, depending on the amount of fat needed to make a difference.  

Does it matter if I'm overweight or underweight at the time of the procedure?

Possibly. It is best to perform the procedure when you are at your most stable weight so that your surgeons don’t over or under treat. We prefer to perform the procedure when you within 10 pounds of your stable weight. For example, if you are at your thinnest, your face will require more fat, and if you then gain weight and reach a more naturally stable weight, the amount of fat in your face may end up being more than desired.

Will fat grafting be covered by insurance?

Rarely. In some instances of volume loss secondary to facial trauma or radiation therapy, it is possible for insurance to cover the cost of the procedure, but this is a rare exception. Most cases of fat grafting are done for purely aesthetic reasons.

Is fat grafting permanent?

Yes, but during the fat grafting process, about half of the fat that is injected will survive. This process finalizes at about 6 months after the procedure. Because we expect about half of the fat to resorb, we tend to overfill slightly at the time of surgery. This initially will leave the patient slightly more full, and as the fat resorbs the volume will go down to almost baseline. At about 3 months, the fat cells start to “wake up” so that by about 6 months, the results will be permanent. This is in contrast to “off the shelf” facial fillers, such as Restylane or Juvederm, which are temporary fillers. One should emphasize, however, that fat grafting does not stop the aging process, so eventually one may need additional volume. Rather, it merely turns back the clock on the facial volume so that in 7-10 years, a repeat procedure may be needed or can also be augmented with facial fillers.

What are the risks/complications of facial fat grafting?

As with any surgery, there is risk of bleeding and infection. These risks are extremely low, however. More common risks include over or under correction and contour irregularities at the site of injection or the donor site. Technique is extremely important in this regard so that the fat is not injected too superficially. It should be noted that although fat grafting can be an extremely natural and long lasting facial volumizer, a small percentage of patients will have very low retention of the fat and thus may have sub optimal volume augmentation. In these instances, repeat procedures may be considered.

With you from step one

Contact us below or call at 206.599.3223. We’re here to help answer your questions or to get you started with a consultation.

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