What Should I Expect During Recovery from Facial Fat Grafting?

I'm considering facial fat grafting, but I work with the public and can only take off one week from work. I bruise REALLY easily. What can I expect? Bruising? Swelling? Incision wounds?

Doctor Answers 10

Fat injection to the face

There will be swelling and bruising. If the eye lids are injected expect major bruising.

The rest of the face may not have much bruising, but there will be.

If you do not want any body to notice then give yourself 2 weeks

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Fat Transfer recovery time

The  main issue with fat transfer recovery is swelling. Even minimal area of the under eye area can create a somewhat distorted look. Swelling does not usually last long, but that can vary from person to person. The lips also will often be swollen for a prolonged period of time.  I will generally work with a patient to determine  how much time they need to take away from work or out of the public eye depending upon their lifestyle and how important it is for them to have absolutely evidence of a fat grafting procedure other than beautiful results.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Fat transfer to the face

in reality if you're going to get a good fat transfer performed to the face you can have significant swelling and bruising that lasts a week and in some cases almost 2 weeks. Patients often ask me why something as simple as injecting fat and the face is so traumatic. It's not that it's that traumatic but that the amount of fat required to make a good correction can be significant. Part of the "swelling" that is experienced is actually the presence of fat and fluid injected into those areas. This can be done under local anesthesia and can give great results that last for several years.

I would not have this performed if you have less than seven days of downtime available to you.that being said you can have fat transfer performed with very little downtime but it may be much more subtle in its result.

Chase Lay, MD

double board certified facial plastic surgeon

Chase Lay, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Mostly Bruising and swelling, not much pain from facial fat grafting

 Although bruising can vary, I would say that it is probably the most concerning thing to patients during the first few weeks after surgery. I have seen it last for a minimum of 7-10 days and up to 3-4 weeks for it to be entirely gone. Swelling can also vary, but most people are presentable in 2-3 weeks with makeup.

Fat Grafting Recovery

 I agree with Dr. Persky.  The recovery is around 7 to 14 days, typically with swelling, maybe some bruising but minimal discomfort in my hands.  Fat then can dip a little in a result as the fat cells shrink then improve again over a period of a year when blood supply matures.  See the link for sequential time photographs below and video link below.


dr. sam lam

Samuel Lam, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Fat Transfer Recovery

Hi Alley,

You can expect to be swollen and bruised for 7 to 14 days after facial fat transfer. It depends upon how aggressive your surgeon is, as well as whether many blood vessels are hit with needles. If you have your treatment on a Friday, you can benefit from two weekends and won't have to return to work for 10 days, at which time make up should cover up any residual bruises. Choose your surgeon most carefully. Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Facial Fat Grafting Recovery

The recovery from facial fat grafting can be several days (as compared to dermal fillers which is almost immediate). You should expect some swelling and possibly some bruising. We have medications to give you that will help reduce both swelling and bruising. However, it is difficult to predict how an individual patient will reaction. Fat grafting is a great procedure and can lead to very natural results. Good luck with your procedure.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Facial fat grafts

This partially depends on the areas treated, volume injected and techniques used. In general, there are minimal incisions, burising may be expected for 7-10 days, swelling is worst for the first 3-4 days, subsiding by 7-10 days and much improved by 3 weeks. Pain is minimal. Donor sites may be bruised for 10-21 days.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Fat inection convalescence

the results and the side effects of fat injections vary from patient to patient of the same doctor, and from doctor to doctor.  Some patient will bruise more because they need more inections, or at different planes. Some doctors will inject fat into the fat compartment and others inject it into the muscle. If it is the latter, then more weeks of swelling can be expected.  Bruising, when it does occur, can be in a small area near the site of the injections, or a very large area, several inches below the area treated, and this may only be seen a few days after the procedure. Swelling can last a few days to as much as four weeks, especially if the muscle is injected.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Ways to minimize bruising and swelling after fat graft

All the doctors have excellent valid points.

Unlike synthetic fillers, fat graft can create substantial recovery time due to bruising and swelling, which can last between one to three weeks.

Here are some ways I use to minimize these "recovery" discomfort:

  • ice the face before and after grafting
  • cool down the fat before grafting
  • adequate waiting after local anesthesia with epinephrine is given
  • adding PRP to the fat grafting, both to enhance fat survival and to decrease bruising
  • relax the subject as much as possible
  • slow meticulous serial deposits of fat grafts, in multiple layers, in small volumes, over few stages, within the target muscle layers, or subcutaneous areas.
  • steroids if necessary, if large volume of fat is given
  • antibiotics are essential
  • some supplements such as Arnica may also be helpful.

George Sun, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.