Facial Fat Grafting | MedStar Health

As you age, your face gradually loses the volume and shape it had in youth. Facial fat grafting, also known as autologous fat transplantation or lipoinjection, can fill in features of your face using fat cells extracted from other parts of your body. This fat may be harvested from your abdomen, thighs, buttocks, or elsewhere. When injected beneath the facial skin, it can fill in sunken cheeks and the eye area, reduce line folds and scars, and enhance lip size. Essentially, if other facial cosmetic procedures level the “mountains” of your face, facial fat grafting fills in the “valleys.”

The grafting procedure can give you results that look and feel natural. It can be used to optimize the results of larger reconstructive or cosmetic procedures or be used as a stand-alone technique for recreating a more youthful face.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

When you first meet with your surgeon, you will have an extensive discussion identifying the areas you would like treated. You will also discuss concerns you have, expectations, details of the operation, and postoperative care.

During the procedure, both the donor and recipient sites of the fat are numbed with local anesthesia. If larger volumes of fat are required, your surgeon may also recommend sedation or general anesthesia. If you elect to use either, you’ll be required to arrange for a ride home after your treatment.

After cleansing and treatment with local anesthesia, fat is withdrawn using a syringe and cannula (a thin tube inserted into the body). Once the fat is purified to remove blood and damaged cells, it’s injected into your face with a needle. Slight overfilling may be necessary to allow for the fact that transferred fat may be reabsorbed by the body over time, reducing the volume gained from surgery.

Recovery after surgery

Most patients resume normal activity the same day as surgery. Patients who had a higher volume of fat transferred may need a brief recovery period. Expect some swelling, bruising, or redness in both the donor and recipient sites. The severity will depend on the size and location of each area. Avoid time in the sun until redness and bruising subsides—this usually takes about 48 hours. Makeup with sunblock protection can help conceal your condition. In some cases, swelling, and puffiness in the recipient site lasts several weeks, especially if a large area was filled.

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for facial fat grafting?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy
    • Your expectations are realistic
    • You understand the risks that come along with surgery
    • You’re unhappy with the volume of your face or you have had reconstructive facial surgery
  • What are the risks?

    These risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications
    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Pain
    • Numbness
    • Swelling
    • Visible lumps
  • How long do the results last?

    While some patients report results lasting one year or more, the majority of patients find that at least half of the injected fullness disappears within three to six months. Therefore, repeated injections may be necessary. Typically, two to three injections are performed in a given area to achieve the desired effect. Your surgeon will advise you on how to maintain your results with repeat treatments.

  • Is fat grafting covered by insurance?

    When fat grafting is reconstructive in nature, it is generally covered by insurance since it is considered medical necessary for facial reconstruction. However, in cosmetic procedures such as facial rejuvenation procedures, fat grafting is considered cosmetic and will not be covered by your insurance. Our staff will review the financing options available and help with any payment questions you may have.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007


MedStar Health: Podiatric Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

106 Irving St. NW
POB North
Ste. 3400
Washington, D.C., 20010

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101