Fat injections to the face

A side view photo of a female face with illustrations showing where the fat-injections will be applied.

Fat grafting to the face is one of the best ways to rejuvenate your face to a more youthful look. Patients seeking fat grafting, also known as fat injections, are usually composed of two types:

  • patients whose dermis has thinned due to the aging process and the face looks tired or sagging
  • younger patients who have a volume deficiency in the upper areas of their face

In both cases, these patients have a loss of volume in the face. This makes the face seem tired and aged. Fat injections can restore the volume to your face to give you a youthful glow.

Ways fat injections improve your face

Ways that Fat injections can be used to help you rejuvenate your appearance include:

  • eliminate or reduce bags in the lower eyelids
  • substitute for cheek implants if you are seeking a higher profile in your cheeks
  • increase general volume in the mid face area with a natural distribution of fat
  • substitute for a mid facelift

Regenerative properties of our own fat tissue

In addition to making your facial structure look younger, fat injections can also improve your skin. More than a decade ago, researchers discovered that your own adipose tissue contains adult stem cells. These are cells found in your own fat that have regenerative properties. When the procedure is performed correctly, fat grafting can provide a new source of blood supply for your existing tissue and skin. Thus, the fat not only adds volume to your face, but it also has these natural regenerative properties to make your face look more youthful.

In summary, fat injections are a natural way to make a more youthful you. To read more about regenerative fat grafting please see my video, Stem cells from fat – Plastic surgery’s new frontier.

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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23 thoughts on “Fat injections to the face”

  • Maya Lazich says:

    Hello Dr. Rodriguez, I am interested in having a fat graft in my tear trough area. I had laser done there about a year ago and there is some noticeable volume loss there specifically. -Do you perform fat grafts solely in the tear trough areas? Or do you use HA fillers there? -What is the percentage of success in adding fat to the tear trough area? (Many doctors suggest the lumpiness factor is very high due to skin being too thin and very unforgiving and fat being "unpredictable," a term I read and hear often? -Do you have before and after photos of tear trough grafts? Whatever information you can share with me would be appreciated. Thank you.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Maya: The tear trough is a problem for many surgeons for very specific reasons: 1) They harvest and process the fat incorrectly. There are proper procedures on how to process fat reliably so you don't get lumps. 2) The tear trough deformity is secondary to loss of volume on the upper cheek. When patients come to my office I do a simple test where I inject saline (which goes away in a few hours) in the upper cheek and the tear trough deformity disappears. 3) The injection is not done superficially but deeper into the tissues. If you want more info contact Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net . We have many patients on whom we do fat injections- we do not call it "tear trough" injections for the reasons cited above. I call it fat injection "under the eye" to more clearly represent the fact that the injection is not in one small area but on the upper cheek. And yes we are very reliable. This year I am president of IFATS (International Federation of Adipose Therapy and Science) so Fat transfer is not just "something I do" but a major clinical and scientific endeavor for me.
  • Maria Vanturini says:

    A friend of mine had fat grafted in December 2013, but the fat in the cheeks is not as pronounced as it was initially. What would help the fat grafts remain? Massage? Acupuncture? Acupressure? Would fillers be o.k., or would they interfere? If yes, then which fillers would be most beneficial for the cheek area, given the fact that there are fat grafts there? Do you perform the fat grafting procedure under general or local anesthesia given the extent of time involved? Thank you!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Maria: The final take of the fat graft is never as much as it is in the first 3-4 weeks when there is a lot of swelling from healing. At this point the fat that remains is permanent. She could use Sculptra as a filler because it lasts 2-5 years. I perform the fat graft under local anesthesia, unless the patient does not want to be aware in which case we use twilight. I'll have Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net contact you with details if you are interested.
  • Lauren Ladd says:

    Dear Dr. Rodriquez: I have been saving my pennies for a visit to you, I hope, this winter. i have a couple of questions: Next month I'm scheduled to undergo the Ulthera procedure on my face and neck. This Northern California physican had also recommended some scupltra/radiesse several weeks post-Ulthera to deal with my moderate mid-face lipoatrophy. I haven't heard you comment on the Ulthera procedure. Any thoughts? Also, I've read that some physcians who do fat tranfer maintain that patients who have had previous injectible fillers are less than ideal candidates for fat transfer, as there is the potential for residual filler matierals floating in the treatment site. Any comments?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Lauren: Save your money on the Ulthera. All these procedures base their effect on heat damage to the tissues. All that talk about stimulating collagen deposition is another name for scar. Sculptra itself also works by accumulating scar /collagen around granules of a synthetic compound. I used to do a lot of laser and even had a machine that did radio frequency. I gave VERY subtle results. The problem is you pay a lot for a very mild result that doens't last that long. Fat Grafts when done properly are long lasting. Not only do they fill the tissue but the stem cells actually manufacture a lot of the things necessary to make your skin younger. With all the money you spend on Ulthera and fillers you are almost there to get a fat graft under local anesthesia.Save your pennies, get the fat graft instead. contact Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net and she can get you in touch with patients who have had fat grafting so you can hear first hand. I'm looking forward to seeing you!
  • Stephanie Szabo says:

    Thank you. I took your advice and scheduled an appt with a Hematologist. He is doing thorough blood work and I am waiting for the results. He wants to confirm whether or not I have any other factors. My 2 daughters are also both positive for factor V, so the Hematologist said this will be helpful information for them too.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Stephanie: I am so happy you followed my advice and went to the hematologist! It is truly wondrous how the internet can be of help to people you don't even know. Hopefully everything will turn out OK or at least manageable not only for you, but for your daughters also. God Bless you!
  • Stephanie Szabo says:

    I am considering upper lid surgery and fat injections under my eyes. I have leiden factor V deficiency. How much risk is there with bloodclots with these 2 procedures?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Stephanie: I would recommend a consultation with a hematologist prior to undergoing surgery. They would make a recommendation as to whether yoy need Fresh Frozen plasma before surgery, or any other measures necessary. Since you are heterozygous, it is unclear whether the risk is significant. Have you had surgery before? Do you bruise easily? These are all issues that would need to be decided before undergoing surgery
  • gracie king says:

    I found the info interesting and the pictures looked good. I'm 55 and not sure if I need something more that but what I really like is that the filler is coming from my body, making it natural. For right now my only question would be: Can the fat injections be used for above the lip area to lessen the wrinkles there also?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Gracie: You can, but the results are not as predictable as in other areas. The reason is the lips move a lot, and I don't think the grafts take as well when the area in in motion. You may benefit from a lip lift. See our post on the subject
  • Cosmetic surgery says:

    Nice blog.I am impressed,very helpful information found on this blog.I am Face Lift patient.I was seeking this certain information for a long time.I learned the information about Face Lift Surgeryprocedure.Thank you again and again for posting this blog.
  • Ms. says:

    Dr rodriguez sorry to bother you again, but i had my fat transfer surg as i prev posted, my second one ( my first was three years ago) and i had used fillers to fill in the hollow leftfrom abotchec fat transfer, and thefillers worked nicely, but my dr had to dissolve the filler before my surgery, and i had the procedure done but inoticed that this time my skin did not improve, in fact i hadno bruising at all, it lmost seemedasif my face did not reactothefat, do you think that the fillers have somehow damaged or desentisized the nerve endings in my face? I thought it was strange and the injections were done from inside my mouth, i liked how there was no bruising but why did my skin not improve ?i am 28 and the filler gave my skin better texture than the fatdidthistime, itwas taken frommy flanks, sry aboyt how the words i write are not seperated , i am writing on a keypad. And how much do you charge for facial fat grafting/lower eyelids, face?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ms. I cannot make a judgement on your procedure since I don't know any of the details. If you want me to give you a meaningful opinion, send us some pre and postoperative photos and I can evaluate what your choices are. I usually have Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net answer questions about finances, etc. Contact her, she'd be glad to help you!
  • Anders Cohen, brooklyn, NY says:

    I guess this applies for those who want to have a regenerative skin on their faces. It looks good on them.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Anders Cohen: I think the reason fat grafts work so well in the face is precisely because of the regenerative actions of the stem cells residing in the fat. This regenerative action is as important as the filler role of the fat. Thanks for reading the blog!
  • Cosmetic Surgeons in Mexico says:

    Great to know about fat infection techniques in depth from this blog.This will really help for my forward steps to be taken.And as the video demonstrates it will really help with the help of different cosmetic surgeons.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Thanks for the compliments. I would encourage any Plastic Surgeon who wants to learn this technique to visit someone who does it a lot and really look at the way they do it before they try it on their own.