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What Is Fat Transfer to Body?

A fat transfer, also known as a fat graft or lipofilling, is a surgical treatment which involves moving fat from one part of the body to another.

During this procedure, excess or unwanted fat is removed from a part of the body, such as the stomach or thighs, and treated before being reintroduced to a different part of the body, such as the lips, breasts or cheeks, via injection. It is a great way of restoring youthful volume to areas of the body which have become gaunt or sagging as a result of the aging process or weight loss. A fat graft also boosts blood circulation, rejuvenating the overlying skin, and enhancing the overall result. It is also used for healing purposes, including treating various skin conditions and lessening the appearance of scars. The ultimate surgical goal of a fat transfer is to improve or augment the area where the fat is injected.

Fat transfer is a safe and highly effective treatment, producing long-lasting results. The treatment does not involve any implants or fillers, therefore it is a popular choice for those looking for a more natural anti-aging procedure. Between 50 and 70 percent of fat cells survive the transfer process. 

The procedure is minimally invasive and requires very little down time. There is minimal scarring and any scars are usually hidden discreetly in the body’s natural creases and folds.

The Cadogan Clinic surgeons are specialists in this innovative field, and we host the leading conference in the UK on the topic each year. Having performed hundreds of such procedures, we are the leading centre of excellence in the country for this treatment.

At A Glance

Fat Transfer to Body

At A Glance

  • Surgery Time

    1 to 2 hours

  • Exercise Including Gym

    4 - 6 weeks

  • Time Off Work

    1 week (if needed)

  • Bras & Garments

    4 -6 months

  • Hospital Stay

    Day case

  • Sexual Activity

    2 weeks

  • Washing

    Shower after 1 day

  • Full Recovery

    2 weeks

  • Reasonably Mobile


  • Driving

    1 week

  • Sleeping Position

    Sleeping on back recommended for 2 weeks

Aesthetics Awards Highly Commended 2021 My Face My Body Awards Winner 2020 My Face My Body Awards Winner 2019 Highly Commended 2018


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. Edmund Fitzgerald O'Connor

Specialist Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Mr Edmund Fitzgerald O’Connor is a fully qualified Specialist Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon. He focuses on providing the highest quality of care to all his patients. Putting patient safety, patient experience and patient outcomes first in all that he does...

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Mr. Hazim Sadideen

Aesthetic Plastic And Reconstructive Surgeon / GMC: 6143207

Mr. Hazim Sadideen is a Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. He graduated from Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' (London, UK) with double distinctions, the Riker's award, the George Leach Cup and King's College London Laurels...

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Mr. David Gateley

Consultant Plastic And Reconstructive Surgeon / GMC: 2939470

Mr. David Gateley is a Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon with a special interest in facial aesthetics, rhinoplasty and complimentary surgical and non-surgical rejuvenation techniques...

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What does it involve?

A fat transfer procedure is quite straightforward and the process can be broken down into three stages:

  • Fat removal - Liposuction is used to take unwanted fat from a donor area, such as the abdomen or thighs. Small cuts are made in the skin using thin liposuction cannulas which are used to suck out the fat. This method will leave minimal scarring behind. This is typically carried out under a general anaesthetic, but can be done under a local anaesthetic for smaller volumes of fat. It depends on which parts of the body are being treated.
  • Preparation - In the second stage, special equipment is used to eliminate any impurities, preparing the fat to be reintroduced to the body. The fat is placed in a centrifuge which spins to separate the fat from any oil, blood and excess fluid. 
  • Injection - Once the fat has been treated, it can be put back into the body. Small amounts of fat are introduced to the treatment sites by way of injection. Stitches are not usually needed. There is a limit as to how much fat can be injected into the body at any one time. In order to avoid any potential tissue damage, more than one session may be required to produce the desired results.

The whole procedure will take one or two hours, depending on the areas being treated. You may wish to combine a fat transfer procedure with other surgical procedures, such as a mini facelift, neck lift or blepharoplasty. 

What areas of the body can be treated with fat transfer?

There are numerous parts of the body which could benefit from fat transfer.

  • Face: Various areas of the face can be treated with fat grafting, including the lips, cheeks, brow and eye area. This restores the youthful volume lost when our collagen levels deplete during the aging process.
  • Breast: Fat transfer can help restore volume to the breasts which may have been lost through aging, weight loss or breastfeeding.
  • Hands: The skin on our hands gets thinner as we grow older, making bones and veins appear more visible. Most people focus on anti-aging treatments for the face and forget about the hands. If left untreated, your hands can be the biggest give away of your true age. Fat transfer restores a youthful plumpness and rejuvenates tired-looking, aging hands.

But fat transfer can do more than just add volume. This procedure can help help with:

  • Body contouring: Fat grafting can smooth and add contours to other parts of the body, such as the hips, highlighting or restoring feminine curves.
  • Treating skin deformities: Fat grafting is often used to help treat skin deformities such as scleroderma, a condition that results in hard, thickened areas of skin, or facial deformities such as hemifacial atrophy. 
  • Improving the appearance of scars: Fat grafting improves skin quality and contour irregularities. Therefore scarred skin, including acne-damaged skin, will benefit from this procedure. Fat grafting is also used to fill any depressions in the skin created by liposuction or cancer surgery.

Fat transfer is also used in Brazilian butt lifts, or BBLs. However this procedure can be highly dangerous. When a BBL is performed incorrectly,  injected fat can enter the large veins in the buttocks, and then travel to the lungs or heart, with fatal consequences. We do not offer Brazilian butt lifts here at the Cadogan Clinic. Instead we offer a buttock lift, which is a far safer procedure. A buttock lift reshapes the buttock area, reducing volume, rather than adding to it, in order to create a more shapely, firmer appearance.

Get in touch

To enquire about a consultation with a Fat Transfer to Body specialist, please complete the form:

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If you have any questions or queries please call to speak to one of our advisors or request a call back to speak at a time that suits you.

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Why Do People Have It?

Fat transfer is a safe, short and highly effective surgical procedure to enhance the contours of the body via combination of liposuction and lipofilling.

The combinative dual effect of both the liposuction (contouring of the donor site) and the lipofilling (contouring of the treatment site) enables a highly impactful body contouring action.

In the matter of just an hour or so, a stubborn legacy contour can be transformed into an entirely new and modified silhouette.

Who Is Suitable?

Cadogan Clinic considers individuals fit for the procedure, if all of the following are true of them:

  • You are in good psychological and physical medical health
  • You are at your ideal body weight
  • You have a positive outlook and realistic expectations of what can be achieved via surgery
  • You are seeking to improve the contours of your body via a combination of both liposuction and volume enhancement 
  • You are seeking to rejuvenate the appearance of your overlying skin 
  • You are looking for longer lasting results that can be achieved by dermal filler 
  • You are looking for a more natural looking breast augmentation, using fat either as an alternative or adjunct to the traditional implant technique


The Process

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.

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:

  • In the 6 weeks before your procedure we recommend smoking is discontinued as patients who smoke have a higher risk of healing more slowly and complications (see FAQs)
  • In the week before your procedure you must cease taking Aspirin or any medication that contains Aspirin
  • In the 6 hours prior to surgery you must not consume food or any drink, other than small sips of clear fluid (e.g. still water, black coffee, black tea) which are allowed up to 2 hours before admission

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.

On the day of your procedure we ask that you arrive for your admission an hour before the agreed start time of surgery. At this point a nurse will come and record blood pressure and other relevant vitals, you will meet with your anaesthetist and your surgeon who will make the final mark-ups.

The procedure itself takes place under general anaesthetic over the course of one to two hours. Depending on how much volume is being transferred, this procedure may take place under general or local anaesthetic. The fat is first removed via liposuction, then prepared via a centrifuge in order to separate the fat from blood and other oily fluids, and then re-injected to the treatment site with a needle and syringe. The injections are given through tiny holes in the skin, so stitches are not usually needed. If a large area is being treated, your may require 2 or more sessions.

You should not feel much pain during the procedure, but you may have some for a few days or weeks afterwards. You'll be given painkillers if you need them.

Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for between two to three 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.

Why come to The Cadogan Clinic for your Fat Transfer to Body?

The Cadogan Clinic is the leading centre of excellence in the UK for fat transfer and fat grafting techniques.

Each year we host a leading global faculty of the top global practitioners in this cutting edge field at the Royal Society of Medicine in London to discuss and debate the latest innovations in the fat transfer sector.

Our fat grafting conference runs over two days of lectures, talks and roundtables, and represents the largest conference of its kind in the UK with 150 leading specialist delegates from 25 countries including the USA, Belgium, France and Israel.

What are the side effects and risks?

Fat grafting is considered to be a safe procedure. However there are some common side effects you should expect after your fat transfer procedure. 

  • Bruising and swelling (this is only temporary and will settle within a few days)
  • Temporary numbness
  • A small amount of scarring
  • Loss of some of the fat from the injected area during the first few months (ie the reintroduced fat not ‘taking’ in the treatment area)

Although fat transfer is not a particularly invasive form of surgery, just like any surgery, there is the potential for complications. Possible risks include: 

  • Poor healing
  • Bleeding or infection
  • Nausea
  • Blood collecting under the skin (haematoma)
  • Death of fat tissue (fat necrosis)
  • Fat embolism (fat entering the bloodstream)

Your surgeon will discuss these in further detail at your consultation and explain how likely these risks and complications are, and how they would be treated if they occur.

What Can I Expect From My Surgery?

Our Surgical Patient Advisor, Ellie, answers our patients most frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

As your anaesthetic or sedation wear off you will wake up in our recovery facilities at the Clinic. You may feel a little drowsy but this often wears off within a few hours. After several hours in recovery, you will eat and hydrate. At that point, you will be allowed to leave the Clinic by our nursing staff.

It is common to feel a little pain and discomfort in the immediate aftermath of surgery. This will wear off in due course. Our 24/7 on call service is open to all patients for any question or query they may have at this time.

You will not be able to drive yourself home after the surgery. You should arrange for someone to pick you up and take you home. In addition, you will need to ask someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours after your procedure.

One of the major benefits of fat transfer is that recovery is typically very swift and patients can be back at work and active very shortly after the procedure. Whilst the extent of such activity should be gradually phased in, you should be back at work within a week and exercising within two weeks.

We always advise that you return to low impact activities first like walking and cycling before you are able to reintroduce more strenuous activity such as lifting heavy weights and doing intense aerobic activities.

Fat transfer is a straightforward and minimally invasive procedure which is carried out as a day case. As a result, there is minimal downtime required with fat grafting.

Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for a couple of hours before being allowed to leave with a friend or family member.

We recommend you take a week off work if needed and avoid driving for one week. You can expect a full recovery from fat transfer in two weeks.

However, there are various activities you should refrain from in the weeks following a fat transfer procedure.

Sexual activity should be avoided for two weeks while exercise should be avoided for four to six weeks, post surgery. We would advise starting with low impact exercises, such as walking and cycling, before reintroducing more strenuous exercise, such as weightlifting or aerobics.

Depending on which part of the body has been treated, you may have to wear a surgical garment for four to six months following your fat transfer.

It is vital that you follow all the aftercare advice issued to ensure the best possible results from surgery. If you try to do too much too soon, this may impact the healing process.

Your surgeon will discuss this with you in further detail at your consultation.

It can take a while for the final results of a fat transfer to emerge. This is because the new fat has to establish a blood supply. Once the non-viable fat has been reabsorbed into the body and the swelling has subsided, you can expect to see the results of the fat transfer somewhere between six and 12 weeks after the procedure.

However you can expect to see ongoing improvements as the healing process progresses. It can take between 12 and 18 months to see the ultimate result of a fat transfer. This can vary from person to person and depends on which parts of the body have been treated.

Fat transfer is permanent, although this new fat will eventually start to be affected by the aging process.

Of all the fat that is reintroduced to the body, between 50 and 70 percent of these fat cells will survive. If you require a further increase in volume, a fat transfer procedure can be repeated at three-monthly intervals to achieve the desired result.

Your surgeon will discuss this with you in further detail at your consultation.

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.

Autologous fat transfer is a technical term for fat transfer surgery. Autologous fat transfer simply means that the organic fat material is harvested from the same individual into which it is transferred.

All fat transfer surgery techniques are therefore by definition autologous fat transfer procedures.

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.

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