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Fat transfer to face, also referred to as facial fat grafting, is a surgical treatment which sees fat taken from another area of the body and processed before being reintroduced to the face. By placing this naturally-occurring fat in the face, this treatment will add volume to aging areas of the face and simultaneously rejuvenate the overlying skin.
As we age, our bodies produce less and less collagen, the protein which keeps our skin plump and youthful. As our collagen levels deplete, the skin loses its elasticity, causing it to wrinkle and sag. Fat transfer to face is an excellent way to fill defects, improve contouring and help to restore volume to the face, particularly in areas which have become sunken with age.
If you are looking for a long-lasting solution to aging facial features, a facial fat graft would deliver better results than a non-surgical treatment, such as dermal fillers. Due to the nature of the donor material, the fat from your own body, a fat transfer to face is a more organic approach than dermal fillers.
Between 50 and 70 percent of fat cells survive the transfer process, establishing a blood supply, meaning the results are permanent. The results of dermal fillers tend to fade after six months and there is only so much that can be injected at any one time.
Fat transfer to face is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning a minimal recovery time.
A facial fat graft can be combined with other procedures to further enhance the result. This could include a mini facelift or blepharoplasty, a procedure which targets common signs of aging that develop around the eyes.Get in touch
30 - 45 minutes
Time off work
a few days (if needed)
1 to 2 hours
After 1 day
2 - 4 weeks
After a few days
Sleeping on back
A few days
Cadogan Clinic considers individuals fit for the procedure, if all of the following are true of them:
Words from our clients:
"I was extremely satisfied with the care and treatment I received at the Cadogan Clinic. My surgeon was friendly and informative and explained the procedure fully. My procedure went very well and with the excellent care of the nursing staff, I made a speedy and full recovery. Would recommend to anyone."Eva Berry
"At the beginning before the operation the nurse taking care of me made me feel so comfortable. The surgeon and anesthetist helped me feel so calm. Fantastic before and after treatment"Scarlett Elliott
"The girls on the reception at the clinic were very pleasant and professional. The nurse who took out my stitches after my surgery was just lovely and took me through step by step what she was doing and she also recommended a great cream to use to help with healing."Georgina Nolan
“I was treated with care and provided with thorough knowledge about the procedure I was undertaking. My surgeon was very methodical (a perfectionist) and I felt I received A class treatment."Courtney O'Sullivan
"Outstanding experience from the first appointment to being discharged. Very professional, friendly and a fantastic outcome."Gemma Stevenson
"Reception staff very welcoming and efficient. Both nurses who I dealt with were fantastic, and the whole team (anaesthetist, surgeon etc) were friendly but professional, and really put my mind at ease. That I was able to stay later than I perhaps needed after my surgery to fit in with my husbands schedule was greatly appreciated."Emma Davies
Included in this treatment
Up to two 60 minute consultations with a leading specialist plastic surgeon at our award-winning premises in Chelsea
Your procedure carried out at London’s leading specialist cosmetic surgery centre of excellence
24/7 on call nurse assistance
Dedicated Patient Co-ordinator, as a personal point of contact through your journey with Cadogan
A pre-operative medical assessment to ensure you are fit for surgery
Comprehensive post-operative aftercare courtesy of our specialist cosmetic nurses
The procedure involves the removal of fat from areas where it is either unnecessary or unwanted via liposuction, and the re-injection of it into the face.
Fat cells are first removed by liposuction from the donor area – usually the stomach, thighs or buttocks. These cells are then cleansed and processed via centrifugation, before being injected into the facial area – a process that's very quickly carried out by your expert surgeon, and takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
It is performed under local anaesthetic and is a day-case procedure, with no need for an overnight stay. Results are long-lasting, natural and immediate.
Fat transfer to the face can successfully treat common signs of facial aging, including fine lines, eye bags, frown lines and sunken cheeks. The procedure will leave a gaunt and tired face looking fresh, plump and rejuvenated. A facial fat graft will restore volume to the cheeks, lips and eyes.
There are several areas of the face which can be treated with fat transfer.
The procedure is a popular choice for restoring sunken cheeks, a common side effect of aging, caused by the resorption of bony and fat deposits. A fat transfer to cheeks will help to restore the prominent cheekbones associated with youth. Facial fat transfer can also be used to fill the hollowness left at the temples and forehead which is also caused by the aging process.
A fat transfer under the eyebrows will lift the brows and the upper eyelids, resulting in a more youthful, wide-eyed look.
In older people, facial fat grafting is an excellent way of restoring tissue loss and correcting the shape of a pointed chin.
Not only can facial fat transfer be combined with other treatments, but it is worth considering having the procedure if you are already having liposuction to sculpt and contour other parts of the body, such as the stomach or thighs.
This means the excess fat which has been extracted can be used rather than thrown away after liposuction.
We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.
Mr. David Gateley
Mr. Garrick Georgeu
Mr. Georgios Orfaniotis
Mr. Hazim Sadideen
Mr. Tunc Tiryaki
Mr. Paul Tulley
Below you will find some key information to help you prepare for surgery and make necessary arrangements to ensure you have the support you need and that everything runs smoothly on the day.
The first step for all of our fat transfer patients is to meet with the surgeon we feel is best placed to perform your procedure for a consultation. At the consultation you will be able to discuss with your surgeon what your hope to achieve from the procedure, as well as discuss in detail what may or may not be possible given your existing anatomy.
Your surgeon will take you through the options available to you, and which is the most preferential for you given your stated ambitions. Having established this, several key measurements will be made and standard clinical photography will be taken.
One of the key considerations at consultation for fat grafting involves making an assessment of the volume of fat required—approximately twice the volume of fat needed for injection needs to be harvested as the volume is reduced by half during preparation.
Donor sites (where the fat is taken from) will also be assessed and agreed on with you. This may involve taking fat from more than one area; typical donor areas for fat grafting are the flanks, abdomen, lateral thighs ('saddle bags') and inner thighs, but fat can be taken from anywhere with excessive deposits.
Finally a comprehensive discussion regarding risks and complications will take place, alongside a discussion regarding what to expect in the post procedure and recovery phase. Your previous medical history will also be recorded (including previous surgery, medications, allergies etc.) and an assessment of your fitness for surgery.
If your surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, you are then invited to consider whether you would like to proceed for surgery or otherwise following a two week 'cooling off' period.
Within this period you are welcome to come in and discuss your potential surgery with your surgeon as many times as you like.
02.Leading up to procedure
If you choose to proceed with surgery, the next time you come into the Clinic after your final consultation will be the day of your procedure. Before admission the following behavioural changes are recommended / required:
We advise all of our fat grafting patients that smoking is a particular contra-indication to this procedure (even more than with other surgical procedures) as fat viability is materially reduced after transfer in smokers, and the effectiveness of the procedure is significantly reduced.
03.On the day
On the day of your facial fat transfer procedure, you should arrive at the clinic an hour before the start time of the surgery. On your arrival, a nurse will record your blood pressure and other relevant vitals before you meet with your anaesthetist and your surgeon for the final mark-ups.
Fat transfer to the face is a minimally invasive procedure and is carried out under a local anesthetic or sedation. The procedure usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. It will take longer if the fat transfer to face is combined with other treatments.
The first thing the surgeon will do is extract the fat from elsewhere on the body. This could be anywhere, but common areas include the thighs and tummy.
The fat is then processed by filtration and centrifuge spinning, separating the fat from blood and other oily fluids. Once this is complete, the fat is put into small syringes ready to be injected into the area of the face which is being treated, such as the cheeks, chin or brow. Stitches are not usually required.
You should not feel any pain during the procedure, but you may have some for a few days afterwards. You'll be given painkillers if you need them.
Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for between one and two hours, dependent on the scale of the procedure. Once our specialist nursing team are happy that your initial recovery is complete and you are safe to return home, you will be allowed to leave the Clinic accompanied by a friend or member of your family.
Once home you will have access to our dedicated on-call nursing team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This team of specialists are dedicated to your comfort and pain control, and are there to field any questions you may have in the immediate post operative phase.
We ask that you come in and see our nursing team 1 week after surgery to ensure your incision sites have been properly reviewed. At this juncture we also recommend you meet with one of our on site aestheticians to discuss ongoing treatment to support the healing and scarring process.
We ask that you come in to see your surgeon after 6 - 8 weeks for a final check up.
The Patient Journey. A breakdown of what you can expect on your journey with us
We are deeply invested in ensuring that every step of your surgical journey with us is as informative and reassuring to you as it can be. This article outlines what you can expect at each stage of the journeyThe Patient Journey
What is fat transfer to the face?
Fat transfer to the face is an advanced surgical treatment which involves harvesting and filtering unwanted fat cells through liposuction techniques, then reinjecting them to either help rejuvenate and restore lost volume in the face.
The same technique can be used to improve the natural contours of the body and do the breast. This is most usually performed under either a local or general anaesthetic depending on the patient and surgeons' preferences and suitability.
How long does the fat transfer to face procedure take?
Fat transfer procedure times vary according to the amount of fat that needs to be harvested and then injected to deliver the desired results.
In practice, this is typically between 30 minutes and 1 hour for treatments to the face that do not require large volumes of fat to be harvested.
There is a technique available at the Cadogan Clinic where a large quantity of fat is taken and then frozen and stored. Small amounts can then be taken from the store over months or even years to layer the fat, building up the contour. Each of these injection sessions can be carried out swiftly in a matter of minutes.
Why transfer fat to the face?
Fat obtained by liposuction can be grafted to the breasts, buttocks or anywhere in the body, but the commonest, and by far the most important area, is the face. But why the face?
Gravity was thought to be the major factor in facial ageing, with all soft facial tissue descending vertically as a result of thinning and sagging of retaining ligaments. In recent years, surgeons have now understood that the majority of the volume loss actually occurs at the bone and deep fat compartment level, which causes the ligaments loosen and the superficial layers to sag since the existing bony structures are no longer there to support them.
Fat is therefore an excellent volumizing resource to restore both structure and volume to the face. The ligaments face and skin in the mid face can be lifted back upwards, to rest on these restored structures.
Whilst fillers deliver a similar action in the early stages of ageing, such solutions are only temporary corrections given the dissolvable nature of dermal filler. By contrast the patients own fat is not only permanent, but it is often enriched with stem cells, meaning it can permanently replace volume and have regenerative effects on the overlying skin.
Some common treatment areas in the face include
Fat grafting (fat transfer) of the face can be carried out as a procedure on its own or combined with other procedures on the face, such as face and neck lifting and blepharoplasty (upper and lower eyelid reduction). A useful thought is to consider fat grafting if you are having liposuction elsewhere since this fat can be usefully employed elsewhere in the body, and not simply thrown away.
Where can fat be harvested from for my fat transfer procedure?
The fat is taken from anywhere convenient or somewhere that you would like reduced. Generally, we use the lower abdomen, inner and outer thighs.
We only need small amounts for the face but may have to search harder for the larger amounts for augmenting the breasts or buttocks. Very slim patients may present a problem.
These donor areas will be bruised for three weeks and completely settle over three months.
How much fat is required for fat transfer to the face?
Large amounts are of fat are not required, but it is nevertheless an opportunity to remove unwanted or stubborn fat from your body if you have some.
The fat is processed and sometimes enhanced with extra stem cells also obtained from fat to ensure a better take of graft, which will be important in smokers and those with poor healing.
Is there a minimum amount of fat required for fat transfer to face?
To deliver the best results a certain level of fat is required and your specialised surgeon will be able to assess this during your initial consultation and examination.
The volumes required a very minimal however for an effective solution to the face, so it is very rare that we are unable to find sufficient deposits somewhere in the body.
On the rare occasion, very slim patients can present an insurmountable problem, but you will be advised by your surgeon at your consultation.
Is liposuction always required before fat transfer to the face?
Obtaining (harvesting) the fat usually from the tummy of thighs is usually required before fat transfer to the face, and will be a required stage of your procedure.
The only instance when this is not the case is for those who have previously had liposuction or fat transfer procedures and who have stored their own fat stored from this previous procedure. In which case it is simply defrosted and injected without loss of potency.
Is fat transfer to the face painful?
Fat transfer is not a painful procedure. You will be under the influence of anaesthetic or fully sedated during the procedure and will not feel anything.
Afterwards you will be given paracetamol to manage any mild discomfort you may experience.
For patients worried about pain, it is always possible to have the procedure either fully sedated or under general anaesthetic.
What can I expect after fat transfer?
After your surgery, you will be asked to come in for a post-operative appointment to come back and see our nursing staff at the Clinic between 1 and 2 weeks after your surgery. At this point your incision sites will be reviewed, and your preliminary healing will be assessed.
After 6 weeks your surgeon will personally review your progress – again at the Clinic - and make sure you are recovering as expected. In addition, they will remove any stitches and advise you on the need for further dressings.
Throughout the recovery period you will have full access to our 24/7 on call nursing service, and full access to the Clinic and our post-operative facilities.
Our aim is to make you feel as comfortable as possible during the entirety of your recovery period.
Is there any downtime after fat transfer to the face?
As a facial fat graft is a minimally invasive procedure, minimal downtime is required. We suggest a few days off work to allow for the swelling to settle. You should be back at work within a week and you will be able to return to exercise in two weeks.
We always advise that you return to low impact activities first, such as walking and cycling, before you are able to reintroduce more strenuous physical activity such as lifting heavy weights and doing intense aerobic activities. A potential risk of facial fat grafting is the fat not ‘taking’, hence we ask you not to do any exercise in the first couple of weeks to allow the fat graft to take up its new blood supply.
You can start driving again a few days post-surgery. Restricted sexual activity can resume after a few days. You can discuss this in more detail with your surgeon.
It is important that you follow the aftercare instructions issued by your surgeon. A failure to follow these could impact upon the results of the facial fat transfer and delay the healing process.
When will I see the final results of my fat transfer surgery?
Final results are typically first seen a few weeks after your procedure, with ongoing improvements beyond this point likely as the healing process fully completes over the coming 3 to 6 months, and as your fat continues to re-distribute itself and settle.
Your surgeon will be able to give you specific guidance at your consultation.
Are the results of my fat transfer permanent?
Fat transfer to the facial areas is also a long-term solution which will last for many years as your consultant will discuss with you in your consultation.
Between 50–70% of the transferred fat is retained long term, and will last just like normal fat. It will even grow with weight gain. With time however, it will begin to wane alongside your other fat deposits. This should not happen before many years, however.
Some factors will impact the longevity of your results:
Generally, fat survives best when put into areas with its own abundant blood supply. The face, which is so well vascularised, picks up a new supply quickly and the majority of the fat survives. Results are often at their best in the facial region, as a result.
What results can I expect from my fat transfer to face procedure?
As your anaesthetic or sedation wears off, you will wake up in our recovery facilities at the Cadogan Clinic. Any drowsiness will wear off within a few hours. After you have had something to eat and drink, our nursing staff will allow you to leave with a friend or family member. We advise that someone should stay with you for 24 hours after the surgery.
It is common to feel mild pain and discomfort in the immediate aftermath of surgery, but this will wear off in due course. You will have access to our 24/7 on call nursing service for any questions or queries you may have during this period.
One or two weeks after your surgery, you will be asked to return to the clinic for a post-operative appointment with our nursing staff, who will review your incision sites and assess your healing.
After six weeks your surgeon will personally review your progress and make sure you are recovering as expected. In addition, they will remove any stitches and advise you on the need for further dressings.
There may be a little swelling and bruising after surgery, but you should be back to your daily routine within a few days.
What effect can smoking and alcohol have on my fat grafting results?
Certain lifestyle factors can increase the risk of complications during and after your surgery. These include smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight and taking drugs (for medical or recreational use.)
The most common impact of smoking before your surgery is that it increases your chances of developing an infection and inhibits your body's natural healing processes. We insist that all patients stop smoking and using nicotine products at least six weeks before surgery. Reducing alcohol intake is also strongly advised. This is particularly important for fat grafting surgery in which the fat's viability post-procedure is materially reduced in a smoker population.
Your doctor will discuss your current BMI and drug use at your consultation and advise you further on this.
What are the benefits of using fat for volume filling?
Not only is the fat relatively easy to harvest via liposuction, but the transferred fat is biocompatible, non-allergenic, non-toxic and relatively easy to obtain in meaningful volumes.
More recently surgeons have used the therapeutic and rejuvenating benefits of fat grafting in the healing of wounds and scars, as well as fat's ability to repair damage to breast tissue following radiation treatment.
The rejuvenative effects are due to the high concentration of mesenchymal cells present in the fat tissue.
This natural 'autologous' resource is therefore readily accepted in the treatment area, is easily topped up and can provide additional rejuvenating benefits.
How safe are fat transfer procedures?
Whilst there are always risk that present during surgical treatment, fat transfer procedures are generally a very common and safe group of procedure.
Please see our risks and complications section for more information about risks and side effects.
Your surgeon will be delighted to talk you through these comprehensively at your consultation.
Founded in 2004 by world renowned plastic surgeon Mr Bryan Mayou, we now work with over 100 leading consultants and successfully treat over 20,000 patients each year. We have been winning industry awards since inception.About Us
Best in Class Facilities
All of our treatments take place at our beautiful boutique premises in Chelsea. We have six consulting rooms and five operating rooms, as well as a dedicated pre and post-operative suite, and a full team of specialist nursing staff.Our Clinic
A Strong Tradition of Innovation
We were founded in 2004 by world renown plastic surgeon Mr Bryan Mayou, best known for his pioneering work in the area of liposuction, lasers and microvascular surgery. We continue to collaborate with pioneers in our field.Our History
At Home in Sloane Street, London
We are proud that our state of the art award-winning clinic is located in one of the best neighbourhoods in the countryWelcome to Sloane Street
We offer surgical consultations in London, Chelmsford and Bristol, and attract international patients from all corners of the globe such as as the USA, the Middle East and Europe.Get in Touch
Facial fat grafting is a very safe, low-risk procedure, as the patient’s own tissue is used, rather than implants or artificial filler. However, there is still the potential for complications.
Common side effects include:
As with all surgical procedures, fat transfer to face carries some risk. You may experience the following complications:
The most significant risk of facial fat transfer is the fat entering the bloodstream, otherwise known as fat embolisation. The fat interrupts the blood supply, which could lead to blindness, stroke or even death. This is a rare complication. The Cadogan Clinic surgeons will avoid injecting in certain areas and use safer cannulas to minimise this risk.
We believe in the delivery of excellent outcomes and results, and exceptional levels of service. Our outcomes are natural and long-lasting, and we remain the premier choice for cosmetic surgery treatments in the UK.
Fat Transfer to Body
Fat Transfer to Breast
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