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1) What is Fat Transfer?

Fat transfer involves the injection of fat to various areas of the human body. The main aim is to increase the volume of fat in those specific areas. The procedure can amplify the treated area. It is typically meant for aesthetic purposes and can be performed on the buttocks, breasts, lips, and face.

The focus of this guide is facial fat transfer. Facial fat transfers are also called facial fat grafting or fat injections.

During the procedure, fat is harvested carefully from one part of the body (donor site) so as to preserve the integrity of the fat cells; laser liposuction, conventional liposuction, and even ultrasound liposuction are used to remove fat cells. Washing and concentration of fat would follow, and the slightest error can lead to complications in harvesting (this is very unlikely).

As you grow older, you will certainly lose volume from your face. This procedure is the perfect way to improve your facial looks without having to opt for a face lift or any other plastic surgery.

It is important that you have an idea of what exactly is involved in facial fat injections.

The process is also called microlipoinjection and is known to restore alluring contours to your, chin, cheeks, your lips, and even beneath your eyes.

2) What is Autologous Fat Transfer/microlipoinjection?

Autologous fat transfer or microlipoinjection involves using your body fat to plump up thin areas of your face. The volume added usually depends on your preference. There are three basic steps involved in the autologous fat transfer.

First of all, a gentle liposuction of excess fat from other body part like; the buttocks, abdomen, thighs and jowls. The second step involves isolating and cleaning the fat cells. The final step has to do with an injection of these fat cells to targeted areas of the face.

Note that this procedure is called autologous because the fat cells used to fill your face are gotten from your body and not another individual or animal.

This is a perfect form of fat transfer to the face, but just like every other medical procedure, there are certain things that must be present or absent before an individual opts in. 

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3) Candidates for autologous fat transfer?

Autologous fat transfer is perfect for eliminating the appearance of facial tear or wear that may appear with age. Things like frown lines, smile lines, hollows on the face, under the eyes and even under the cheekbones.

Facial fat transfers can help cover up acne and other facial scars.

If you have one or all of these conditions, then you will make a good candidate for the autologous fat transfer.

4) Ideal fat transfer candidates?

Adults who want to improve appearance by eliminating or diminishing smile lines, marionette lines, facial depression, crease or furrows can opt in for this procedure. It can also be used for facial augmentation.

Young people may only be eligible for facial fat injections under certain circumstances. When a person has gone through lipoatrophy, (degeneration of the facial layer responsible for forming contours for jawline and cheeks) that person can use this procedure to improve facial looks.

If you are not suffering from any of the above problems, but you still have other problems, and you feel you need facial injection treatment, then it’s best to seek out the services of a dermatologist.

This technique is performed in such a way that there is no allergy related restrictions. On the other hand, you have to book an appointment with some qualified medical personnel. When you do, make sure you disclose every single detail about your medical history. Nothing is too small to be left behind. You must fill the doctor in on things concerning; smoking, use of birth control, blood-thinners, supplements, pills and any other issue concerning your health and lifestyle The information gotten from you, is what the doctor would use to determine whether you can undergo the procedure or not.

5) What parts of your face may require fat transfer?

Certain areas of the face can be improved with this procedure. Doctors can perform a facial fat injections on the cheeks, lips, and under eye hollow. Volumes can be added to these and many other parts of the face as well like between the eyebrows, creases in the forehead. It also improves contour around the nose the temples and the jawline.

These volumes enhance the target area and give you a more enchanting and attractive look. Fat transfer can fill up hollow areas and efficiently.

In most cases, one fat injection is adequate to fill up the required spot. The effects are long lasting but may not be permanent. You may need more than one fat injection to revert the problem adequately.

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6) Fat transfer or other dermal fillers which should you go for?

It is vital that you understand the difference between many other dermal fillers and autologous fat injections. The major difference is that autologous filling doesn’t involve any foreign substance. It is fat from your body that will be used to fill in the required areas. Thus, people with allergies to sensitive products can opt for this filling without any worry.

Another amazing thing about facial fat injection is how long it lasts. Volume enhancement provided by fat last longer than other dermal fillers. Fat injections lasts from several months to a couple of years. In some occasions, it may even last indefinitely. On the other hand, dermal fillers that have hyaluroni?c acid eventually break down and disappear after some months. This would require additional treatment methods.

7) Fat Before and after fat transfer and re-injection procedure?

The procedure is in three steps. It starts with removing the fat from one part of the body followed by the purification process and then the actual fat transfer process. The results manifest immediately after the process.

8) Preparing for the procedure?

The procedure can be performed after administration of any local anesthesia only. There is often no need for general anesthesia that can knock the patient out. Oral sedatives may be offered by some physicians if the patient is apprehensive. The amount and type of anesthesia depend on the amount of fat transfer required. This is the doctor’s choice to make.

It can be performed as no more than an outpatient procedure at the office of your local cosmetic surgeon. Blood thinners like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen are highly discouraged. They should not be used for up to two weeks before the procedure.

The fact that the process would involve your fat cells makes the use of an allergic reaction test unnecessary.

As soon as everything is in check and you have been cleared by your surgeon the procedure will begin.

Step one

Fat removal

The process typically starts with liposuction which involves removing excess fat from a specific area usually the hips, buttocks, saddlebags, jowls or the thigh. Very low suction liposuction is required as anything more may damage some fat cells. The fat cells are usually removed with a special cannula designed to reduce cell injury or a hypodermic needle (small gauge).

Step Two

Isolating fat cells

As soon as the required amount of fat has been removed, it oscillates at a very high speed inside a centrifuge. The essence is to separate the cells for the liquid that may have been removed during liposuction.

Step Three

Re-injection of the Fat 

This procedure is rounded up by injecting the isolated fat cells into the target area or areas. Note that the site for injection would have already been identified. The doctor will run a double check and correct any imperfection, or create a new contour. With a separate syringe (hypodermic) the doctor will add the cells into the target area.

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9) Fat Transfer Recovery, Results and What To Expect?

As soon as the procedure is complete, you would most likely notice slight swelling or wound at the donor site and also on your face.

This will go away within a few days and so will the discomfort. Before then, you can take prescribed medications for pain. Try as much as much as you can not to take any medication that isn’t prescribed.

You will have to follow up postoperative instructions from your surgeon or dermatologist. Most people continue with their daily routine hours after the transfer.

Results should be visible as soon as the swelling has declined. Fat transfer results differ from person to person. After the procedure is completed effect may last for years, or even permanently depending on the individual and the process.

10) Risks and benefits?

Fat transfer in lips, fat injection under eyes and facial fat grafting, in general, all have risks as well as benefits. Apart from correcting aesthetic problems, it is long lasting. What’s more? It’s a 100% natural. Your fat cells alone can be used to give you the contour you need successfully. You don’t need to worry about the risks associated with using synthetic materials. No foreign material is used, whether from an animal or even another human.

It is an excellent alternative to facial resurfacing procedures. However, there is a single risk associated with facial fat injections which is; swelling and soreness. However, this is a common problem and it usually disappears within days.

11) Cost and financing information?

The cost of the procedure varies depending on the patient’s need, the number of syringes used the number of transfers, the extent of revision required, the region where the producers are done and a lot of other factors.

It is important that you inquire from the staff regarding what options are available and which suits you most. They will tell you the physician’s fee schedule.

However, the cost for fat transfer is usually less than the other available types of facial rejuvenation especially surgical options such as a facelift.

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Facial fat transfer FAQs?

The most common questions people ask before they opt for facial fat injection are:

Are autologous fat transfer, microlipoinjection, and fat grafting, the same thing?

These terms all mean the same thing. They are all simply different names for the same procedure. All three terms refer to the three step process of removing fat, purifying it and reinjection it in the face. They can be used interchangeably.

What benefit do I derive from choosing fat injections instead of other dermal fillers?

Using synthetic materials may cause severe allergic reactions. With this method, however, there is no risk of allergic reactions since the fat cell is removed from your body. Other methods of dermal filling may involve the use of animal parts. When a foreign body is introduced into the human body, the possibility of tissue rejection is very high since the body will recognize the tissue as its own.

What parts of the body can fat be harvested from?

Fat can be harvested from any part of your body that contains excess fatty tissue. There’s no clear-cut rule as regards where it should be taken from. However, you and the doctor will work together to find out which part of your body is eligible. In most cases, the buttocks and hips serve as donor sites for the procedure.

Is procedure painful?

You will experience some pain but in most cases, this pain minimal. The pain and discomfort are usually short term and can be handled with the use of oral pain medication. You can discuss the options for pain medication with your doctor before the procedure.

What is recovery like?

The recovery is easy and fast when compared with other cosmetic surgeries. Since there is no incision, the discomfort is minimal, and as such, you are most likely to return to your daily activities in no time.

How long will it last?

There is no defined time frame as regards how long the filling will last. It can last for months, years or even forever. From time to time, more advanced methods are applied to guarantee lasting results.

Do I need multiple fat injections to achieve desired results?

It depends on the extent of change the patient desires, but cosmetic surgeons performing the procedure often recommend multiple fat transfer injections. Breaking up the process into multiple installments allows for more tissue to be transferred with less damage to both the donor site and the injection sites. Your doctor can go over the advantages and disadvantages of various treatment options with you in detail.


The fact remains that facial fat injections are an efficient, nearly painless and incredibly fast way to improve your contours. It is also the safest way to make aesthetic changes. The pain you suffer when you opt for other cosmetic surgeries often make you regret your decision in the first place.

The facial fat injections are 100% seamless. No one will notice that you had any cosmetic procedure. You’ll simply look more beautiful than ever.

If you are considering enhancing your facial volume with an autologous fat transfer, your next step should be to find a certified dermatologist with a good track record near you.

Someone with experience will be more than capable of helping you decide on the best method of fat injection. Your doctor should be blunt with you. You should be briefed on all the health implications, no matter how small. Ask questions when you don’t understand certain things. It will be in your best interest to disclose all previous and present health conditions to your doctor. The doctor can help you get started on your fat injection journey.  Always keep in mind that there are certain rules concerning this procedure. As long as you follow them, you’ll enjoy the benefits of facial fat injection.


Schedule a Consultation Today

Find out how you can improve your contours to restore to a more natural youthful appearance.  Schedule a consultation and let us create a treatment plan designed for you. Call Dr. Sheffield today at our Santa Barbara location (805) 318-3280.


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