Do Cheek Fat Injections Dissolve if I Lose Weight?

I am looking to get my cheeks done, and I noticed that the fat injections are a lot cheaper than implants. I was told they last up to a year. If I get the injections and I lost weight at any time, would my body dissolve that fat? My normal facial structure is long and shallow-faced.

Doctor Answers 31

Fat Grafting should last more than a year, Fat Grafting can be permanent

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Fat grafting has been performed by plastic surgeons for decades. There is no question that fat is the ideal material for soft tissue augmentation, and that the results obtained with fat grafting are the most natural-appearing. However, one problem with this procedure in years past has been resorption (breakdown) of the grafted fat, so that the resulting improvement is not permanent. The grafted fat must gain its own blood supply in its new location in order to persist long-term, and this generally is not possible when large amounts are injected at once and when specialized instrumentation and techniques are not employed.

By injecting small amounts (less than 0.1 cc at a time) of fat are carefully microinjected in a series of discrete layers to gradually 'build' new soft tissue structure. As there is space between each microinjection, new blood vessels are able to grow into the grafted fat, allowing it to persist. If this process of blood vessel ingrowth (neovascularization) does not occur, then the injected tissue cannot truly be considered a 'graft' and is instead just another 'soft tissue filler' of limited duration.

Fat Grafting requires specialized training and specialized surgical instruments, as well as patience and attention to detail on the part of the surgeon. When performed properly, permanent improvements in facial plastic surgery are possible. If enough fat resorption occurs following a fat grafting procedure such that the desired result is not achieved, a second 'touch-up' procedure can easily be performed.

If a person is significantly overweight, they are not an idea candidate for surgery, so anyone considering losing a lot of weight should lose the weight before considering surery. However, mild fluctuations in weight should not impact the longevity of fat grafts.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

The fat remembers where it came from

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If you take fat from the abdomen or thighs and inject it into the face, it will still behave as it would have from its original site. In other words, if it would lose volume with weight loss when it was in the abdomen it will still lose volume when it is in the face.

The opposite is also true. I have seen pictures at a national meeting of a patient with fat injections into the lower lids who gained 50 lbs and looked like a Japanese gold fish!

Long term survival of fat injections, fat transfer, fat grafting.

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TSurvival of Fat Grafting

he long term survival of fat injections is unknown, despite many clinical studies to date. It seems that the fat grafting survival is highly dependent on the technique of injection and the viability of both the grafted fat as well as the recipient site.

Although the scientific literature is replete with anecdotal evidence to support various methods of fat grafting, the majority of plastic surgeons and dermatologists believe that the majority of the fat will not survive over several years.

It is true, nonetheless, that the grafted fat will retain the metabolism of its original site. Thus, it will respond to fluctuations in weight that are consistent with it native state.


Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

The fat will continue to behave just as it did before the transfer.

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Need to Know, The fat will continue to behave just as it did before the fat transfer. So, if you gain or loose weight, the fat with grow or shrink, respectively. It is important that you have the fat transfer when you are at your realistic weight. I hope this is helpful.

Cheek fat grafts do not "dissolve" with weight loss.

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However, if you are under the impression that fat grafts last only a year, then you are talking to someone who is using fat that is non-viable before transfer (because of UAL, SmartLipo, or other damaging harvesting technique), or placing it in a recipient area that has inadequate circulation to support the living grafts. If the grafts survive (a portion of the grafted cells die, a portion develop blood supply, heal, and survive long term), they will provide permanent fullness to the recipient area.

Weight gain or loss affects the grafted fat cells as if they were in their native (donor site) position. In other words, if fat is obtained from the abdomen, injected in the cheeks, and then you gain weight that normally enlarges your abdomen, your facial grafts will enlarge. I have actually had to surgically remove fat grafts that were placed in the lower eyelids, healed beautifully, and then enlarged and bulged when the patient gained weight!

If you factor in the costs of repeat fat transfer procedures, time off work and activities, it may well be less expensive to consider permanent facial implants, or at least fat grafts which are done by someone who expects a portion of the grafted material to survive long term. If you lose weight, your grafts will lose some volume proportionately, which is another reason to consider facial implants that are stable regardless of your weight!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Do cheek fat injections dissolve if I lose weight?

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The answer is, it depends.

You have different fat cell populations in your body. Certain fat cells act like fat depots. That is, they are very quick to take up circulating triglycerides from your bloodstream after you eat. They then turn them into fat but will only release that fat back as energy under starvation circumstances. This is why certain fat bulges are so hard to get rid of, but come back so quick if you gain any weight at all.

These fat depots create your shape, whether it is apple shaped or pear shaped.

Other types of fat cells, or "fast turnover cells" pick up the triglycerides at an easier pace, but will release the fat much more quickly as readily available energy.

That is why when losing weight some areas seem to "melt away", whereas the troublesome bulges seem to stick around forever.

So it is very important to choose WHICH fat is used as graft material. Fat depot cells will stick around the longest, even as you are losing weight. Fast turnover fat cells "disappear" quickly as you lose weight.

You can read a little bit more at the link below.

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

Fat Transfer and Weight Fluctuations

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Hi Need to Know,

When performed properly, fat transfer is a safe, effective, and permanent method of adding volume to the face. Using proper techniques, approximately 50 % to 60% of the fat transferred to the face will re-establish blood supply and live. It has been clinically proven that after 6 months, the fat that is still present will remain permanently, though the face will continue to age normally.

If you plan to lose weight and not gain it back, it is best to have your fat transfer after your weight is stable. If you then have the fat transfer, it is important for you not to gain an excessive amount of weight back as the living fat in your face will also grow.

Fat transfer is a great procedure for permanently restoring volume to your face.

Be well and happy, healthy Holidays.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Fat injections may vary with weight loss or gain.

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Fat taken from one area of the body and injected into another will respond to weight loss or gain according to the area from which is was harvested.  Some parts of the body, such as the belly, gain and loose weight more quickly than other parts, such as the face.  Therefore, if you have fat taken from your abdomen and put in your face, once it has "taken" (at least 6 months), it will respond as if it were still in your belly: if you loose significant weight it will reduce in size, and if you gain weight, it will enlarge out of proportion to the surrounding fat of the face.  I have seen this on several occasions.

Still, for most people who maintain their weight within a reasonable range, this is not a problem.

Kevin F. Hagan, MD (retired)
Nashville Plastic Surgeon

What you need to understand with fat injections

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What you have to understand is that it is the Fat CELLS that we are transplanting. These cells are a storage cell for fat. Therefore, whatever number of cells survive being transplanted to your face (or anywhere) should be there for life. But, if you lose weight, or with aging, you will probably lose volume in this area as these cells will likely shrink.
If the volume is gone in a year, then most likely the cells didn't survive.

Fat grafting changes may occur following weight gain or loss.

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Fat grafting is advantageous because it is 'made by your body for your body'. We usually forewarn patients that typically we see about a 35-40% take of the graft and that re-operation may be required 9-12 months later. Keep in mind that soft tissue fillers are another option.

Thanks for your question.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood 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.