Fat Injection

Fat injection, also referred to as fat transfer, is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which fat is harvested from a distant location, usually the abdomen or lateral thigh, and then injected into selected areas of the face. This effectively restores volume in areas where soft tissue volume loss has occurred as a result of the aging process. The procedure can fill wrinkles and lines, enhance the lips, and improve some scars and other skin depressions to restore a smoother, more youthful appearance.


Fat injection is a good procedure for individuals with volume deflation in areas around the eyes, cheek or mouth. Multiple areas can be performed at one setting, however more than one session is often needed due to partial fat resorption. Patients should also be aware that while fat is removed from the donor area with liposuction, this does not intend to contour the area. As with other types of surgery, patients should be in good physical health and have realistic expectations for improvement.

Dr. O’Mara may perform the fat transfer procedure at an outpatient surgery center or in the office procedure room. Procedural times average one to two hours. Local anesthesia is used for office procedures, and IV sedation is administered at the surgery center. Fat is harvested using liposuction techniques and then placed into a centrifuge which isolates the fat cells. These fat cells are then transferred to small syringes, which are used to precisely place the fat into the specific facial location.


Patients may experience some bruising after the fat injection procedure / fat transfer procedure and this can last one to two weeks. Swelling may also occur, along with discomfort which is generally very minimal. Most patients can return to work within one to two weeks, though strenuous activities and exercise will need to be postponed for about three weeks.


What are some options available for non-surgical alternatives to the traditional facelift? What exactly can be done with less invasive methods and how effective are they?

In patients who have facial wrinkles due to soft tissue volume loss, fat auto transplantation is an alternative to traditional facelift. Fat injection is a significant part of my practice, however I mostly use it to enhance traditional facelift results. I believe that in general, less invasive methods yield less impressive results.

I’m a 50 year old woman, and I’ve been looking into different facial fillers. I recently read about fat transfer procedures, which sound intriguing. I have a little extra baggage I’d like to lose in the love handles anyway. Since the fat would be from my own body, would the results of a fat transfer last longer than from an artificial filler?

Fat transfer procedures can offer a long lasting and natural enhancement to the face. In my experience, fat injection lasts longer than an artificial filler, especially in the mid and upper thirds of the face. Also, I tell my patients that harvesting the fat does not contour or significantly reduce the donor site area because of the small volume that is required to remove.

As a 48 year old, I know it’s silly, but I’m afraid of needles. I’d like to get a facial fat transfer, but I don’t want to be awake during the procedure. Can a facial fat transfer be performed under general anesthesia?

Many fat transfer procedures that I perform are done in conjunction with other procedures, such as brow lift, facelift, or blepharoplasty. Most cases involving multiple procedures are done under general anesthesia or IV sedation, so fat transfer can definitely be performed in this manner. If you require fat injection only, you can still have general anesthesia, although most of my patients tolerate this procedure with mild sedation.

I’ve read that my own body fat can be harvested to fill facial wrinkles and augment lips. Are the results permanent?

I perform fat injection to fill wrinkles of the face.  I usually harvest it from the abdomen.  In my experience, fat injected in the upper portions of the face generally works a little better than fat injected around the mouth and lips, although it can in many cases provide years of results.  Unfortunately, fat can be unpredictable, and touch up injections may be required.