Is Fat Injection a Solution for my Acne Scars?

I have sensitive skin and thus the acne that I had a as teenager has left red, depressed scars on my cheeks. I have been for chemical peels, ND yag, and a session of co2 laser, which was very painful indeed and not very successful. There wasn't a considerable change in my scars. I also have been using Obagi Clear and Blender off and on for about 1 year. I have visited a plastic surgeon and she has recommended fat injections to correct these scars.

Is this a good option for me? Will fat injections correct the redness as well, or should I go for another session of co2 laser? Please suggest... thanks, previous acne sufferer

Doctor Answers 13

Acne Scars and Stem Cells?

Great question.  While I agree with the others here for the most part, I'm not so sure that we completely know the answer to this question. 

Fat transfer is probably not the best first option for treatment of acne scars.  However, there is a great deal of exciting research going on into the effect of the stem cells that are transferred with the fat during this procedure.  Research has shown a rejuvenative effect on facial scars and skin that is independent of just restoring the volume with fat.  Amazingly, one patient who had radiation to the face had improvement in the skin after a fat transfer procedure!  The theory is that the adult stem cells that are transferred with the fat are causing positve changes to the above-lying skin and scar tissue.  In fact, this may be the future of cosmetic facial plastic surgery!

I'd say, that if you've been frustrated by more conventional treatments for acne scarring, give fat a try!

Lone Tree Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Fat injections will not help acne scars.

Acne scars are "depressed" creating a shadow as the skin is anchored to the deeper tissue.  Fat injections do not release this scarring and really don't help much.  Attempts have been made to release the scar and then prop up the skin with a graft of some kind, but I have been unimpressed with this somewhat involved procedure.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Fat injection for acne scars

Although it is possible to inject fat for acne scars there are better solutions. Fat grafting is excellent when the goal is to recount or a portion of the body or to fill significant defects. The scarring that may occur after acne are very small and can often best be treated with injections of fillers or by a small excision of the scar itself

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

Fat injection may help contour but not redness


I have treated acne scars with fat injections.  If acne scars have left the face with loss of soft tissue this can be improved with fat grafting.  I have also done fat grafting with CO2 laser in the same session.  For redness I’d recommend IPL (intense pulse light).

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Ways to Improve Facial Acne Scar

Options to improve non-pigmented facial acne scar depends on the size, depth, skin quality, and skin color of the individual.

Options, which are often combined, are used to tret a facial acne scar:

  • Skin products: use of bleaching and exfoliants such Retin-A are helpful for acne control
  • chemical peeling: chemical peel can further be used to treat active acne and pores
  • micro-needle dermaroller therapy: this option improves pores, small superficial acne scar, while improving skin quality and plumpness.
  • laser resurfacing: this modality works best for deeper scar and mutiple fractionated sessions are still needed
  • long pulse non-resurfacing laser: Yag lasers I have found no much better than dermaroller therapy
  • subcision: very useful for larger areas of acne scar which upon distension or stretching of skin becomes better. Subcision is often used with filler or fat injection.
  • punch excision: primarily used for ice-pick scar.

George Sun, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

Acne Scars

Acne scars require multiple treatments.

Your problem is the discoloration and that will not be improved by fat injections. Although there is enough evidence that with fat injections, there are STEM CELLS which may play a role in improving skin quality.

I would recommend using the full Obaji line, few peels, TCA, then another good CO2 laser.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Fraxel For Acne Scars

Thank you for your question. At my practice, I have gotten excellent results for scarring with Fraxel. This treatment eliminates irregular skin discoloration, and stimulates new collagen production, tightening the skin without prolonged recovery. After a series of 2 to 4 Fraxel treatments, the cumulative cosmetic improvement is near more aggressive lasers, but unlike more aggressive lasers, redness and swelling eliminated within 2 to 4 days after each treatment. Fraxel is outstanding for fine wrinkles, mild skin laxity, irregular pigmentation, acne scars, surgical scars, enlarged pores, stretch marks, age spots and Rosacea. It can be used safely on the face, neck, hands, arms, and chest.

Daniel Shapiro, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

Fat injection for acne scars

Fat injection is not a good answer for acne scars.  Each scar treatment is based on the individual characteristics of the scar.  If facial fillers are to be used, better options are out there which are less costly and more effective.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 163 reviews

Fat will not correct redness

Fat augmentation is an option for improving depressions associated with acne scars. It will not change the redness you are describing. A better option for the redness may be topical creams, IPL treatments, or PDL treatments.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Fat injections for acne scarring

Perhaps it is my inexperience, but I have not found fat injections helpful for acne scarring. I just haven't been able to deposit the fat absolutely precisely underneath each acne scar, due to the globular nature of the fat. The patients I have seen who have had this technique look generally lumpy.

Ice pick scars seem to respond best to direct removal.

Generalized acne scarring seems to respond best to laser resurfacing with the CO2 laser, and, in older patients, a facelift.

Ultralight dermabrasions performed sequentially have also have nice results.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

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.