What it is

Fat grafting is a rejuvenating transference of fat from one part of the body to another through injection. Fat grafting often targets the face, filling out areas around wrinkles or places that have become depressed; the lips, plumping them for a fuller appearance; and the hands, to create a more youthful look. The buttocks can also be augmented through fat grafting.


Excellent fat grafting candidates may be people with facial wrinkles or creases, smile or frown lines, or crow’s feet. Strong candidates may also have sunken-in cheeks, thin lips, or a loss of fullness in the backs of their hands. People who have had extensor tendon issues, such as tenosynovitis, are not ideal candidates for fat grafting in the hands. Fat grafting may also be an effective treatment for people hoping to improve scarring.


Fat grafting takes one to two hours and can be done with a local anesthetic, with sedation, or under general anesthesia. Fat grafting is an outpatient procedure that can be performed in the doctor’s office. The fat grafting procedure begins by removing fat from the body, usually the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs, with a small needle and syringe. The fat grafting continues by injecting the extracted fat into the desired area, e.g., the face, lips, or hands. Some patients pair fat grafting with a face-lift or receiving an injectable. Fat grafting recipients will be able to go home immediately after the procedure, but will need someone to drive them. Fat grafting results can be permanent, but many patients may require additional fat grafting to achieve the best results.


Fat grafting is a very safe procedure. Infection is rare in fat grafting, and allergic reactions are not an issue as it is the patient’s own fat being grafted.


Fat grafting patients may be asked to refrain from vigorous exercise for a few days after fat grafting. Areas receiving fat grafting may be bandaged after the treatment; also, patients can usually wear makeup the day after a fat grafting procedure. There may be swelling, bruising, and redness in the locations of fat grafting, but any minor discomfort will dissipate a few days after fat grafting. However, the larger the area receiving fat grafting, the longer swelling and redness may endure.