One way cosmetic surgeons add volume to flattened areas of a patient’s face is to use fat that’s been removed through liposuction from the legs, midsection, or rear end. The great advantage this has over other dermal fillers is that it won’t be rejected, the results are longer lasting, and the cost is less when significant volume restoration is needed.
Fat transfer surgery is an outpatient procedure and can be performed using local anesthesia with light sedation. When performed by a skilled facial plastic surgeon, the procedure typically takes about an hour. Facial fat transfer also enhances facelift surgery; to learn more read our related blog post.
Facial Fat Transfer Recovery Time
Here are some things to expect after a facial fat transfer procedure.
There will be swelling and bruising during the first week, both in the face and in the area the fat was harvested. The skin in affected areas may be massaged to help reduce swelling, which is discouraged with other dermal fillers.
Discomfort and swelling can also be eased by an ice compress. Although pain is generally mild following a fat transfer procedure, the physician will prescribe pain medication that can be used as needed.
The reduction in bruising and swelling happens fairly quickly between 7 and 10 days after the procedure. By the second week, bruising has usually gone away, but there’s still some swelling. Many people feel they can go back to work after the first week, but others may not feel ready.
The donor area from which the fat is harvested is typically fitted with a compression garment or bandage to prevent the collection of blood or fluid within the space under the skin. Drains are rarely inserted to help draw out excess fluid or blood in cases where a large amount of fat is harvested.
Patients should see most of the swelling and bruising at the donor site resolve after about 2 to 3 weeks. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to guard against infection. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers additional information about liposuction recovery on its site.
Visibly apparent bruising and swelling in the face will typically resolve within 2 weeks following a fat transfer procedure. By the second week, most patients can get back out in public with a little makeup to camouflage any residual swelling or bruising.
Patients may notice that a small amount of swelling lasts for several weeks. During this time, it’s important to be patient with the recovery process as the swelling gradually resolves, as you can see in our patients’ before and after pictures. If you combine fat transfer to the face as part of a facelift procedure, your recovery may be longer
For more information about autologous fat grafting and how it can complement a full facelift, Dr. Michael Boggess is happy to consult with you. You can use our online form to request a consultation or call us at (615) 942-8016.