Can Fat Injections Around the Eyes Cause Blindness?

An ophthalmologist once told me that fat injections around the eyes, such as in temples, or upper eyes (brow bone area) and lower eyes(underneath area of the eyes) can result in blindness. What causes this? And would having fat grafts instead of injection be a better option?

Doctor Answers 4

Blindness from injections around the eyes

Yes, it IS possible to cause blindness from injections around the eyes by getting materials like fillers or fat into the veins that drain blood from behind the eye and plugging them up and blocking them from working.  This is very rare but a recent article in the most respected American Plastic Surgery journal discusses this very issue.  As a result, I have stopped doing these injections though others will continue to offer them.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Blindness after fat injections

This can occur, and results from accidental injection into a small artery under the skin of the face, travelling backwards through the artery to larger arteries behind the eye,and  then being delivered into the retinal artery with the normal forward flow of blood.  This process can similarly cause tissue injury in skin resulting in severe deformity.  This mishap fortunately is very rare, but the possibility should be considered and precautions can be taken by your surgeon to limit the risk.

Michael Kreidstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Theoretical risk

THere is a theoretical risk for any injectible particle to become unwittingly injected into a blood vessel causing its blockage. The risk depends on the size of the particle and on the instrument used to inject.

The smaller particles injected with sharp needles would have a higher chance of this complication [but still relatively rare]. But fat injections [larger particles] with BLUNT cannulas minimize this risk substantially.

There is only one incidence reported, to my knowledge, of blindness from fat injection around the eyes, and it is uncertain from the article what type of needle was used. I would venture to guess that it was a sharp needle.

A.J. Amadi, MD
Seattle Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Fat injections around eyes

It is extremely unlikely for fat injections around the eyes/brows to cause blindness since blunt cannula are used and the fat is usually too large to be injected into fine vessels of the eyelids.  There are always risks with any procedure but blindness is extremely unlikely for fat injections.  There are higher risks of problems with injecting fillers (restylane, juvederm) but even with the latter, it is very unlikely to cause blindness as thousands of these injections are done every day in the world using these products.

Mehryar (Ray) Taban, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 72 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.