Fat Transfer: Hit or Miss, or Technique Dependent?

I've heard of some awful and deforming fat transfer results. Is this something that is just a risk in general even if I go to the best doctor? Or is outcome based on the technique and artistry implemented? I would like to get a full facial fat transfer, especially under eye hollows, but I'm concerned that there could be a risk of cysts or deformity to that area even if I go to the best. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 5

Fat transfer complications

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There is always a risk associated with any procedure, even minor ones.  There are certain risks that are avoidable and others that are simply a statistical reality.  Fat transfer is one of the trickiest procedures we do. Especially, around the eyes. Getting consistently good outcomes with low complication rates is based on good technique, execution, judgement and experience. In other words, you must go to an expert in this procedure who does several procedures per week and can show you many (>50) examples of near and long term results.  Pick a surgeon with a good track record in fat transfer and this can significantly reduce your risk profile. Even if this means traveling to see someone. When done well, it can be a very rewarding procedure. 


Good Luck. 

San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

Risks associated with Fat transfer

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As with any procedure, there are risks involved, an open discussion with your board certified plastic surgeon is important to put you at ease.... risks are much lower in experienced hands. 

You should not be afraid to ask your surgeon how many of these procedures he/she has performed and what problems or complications they have had. I routinely encourage my patients to ask questions and show them pictures of my most recent and older cases, I am lucky to have lots of pictures to show so am able to have a frank discussion with my patients. 

Dilip D. Madnani, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

Fat transfer risks

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The answer to both your questions is yes...any surgery has risks...even in the "best"  hands...risks are less with proper training, technique, and experience, but if any surgeon tells you he/she never has a complication, they are either lying or do not do much surgery. Make sure your plastic surgeon is board certified, has experience and keeps up to date with new techniques...see examples of their work.

Leonard T. Yu, MD
Maui Plastic Surgeon

Success with fat transfer partly technique dependent

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There are many factors involved in achieving a successful result with fat transfer, the most important one being judgment: how much and where. The specific techniques are well-known, but there is inherent variability in results despite doing everything right. Facial fat transfer in general has a good success rate.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Fat transfer complications

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There are always risks with any procedure, no matter who does your surgery. That being said, successful fat grafting is quite technique dependent. Especially when treating areas such as under the eyes we do want to avoid lumpiness, etc. Some ways I do this is by placing the fat deep to the muscle in that area and by placing the fat in very small droplets during each pass. Focusing on convservative augmentation helps to signficantly reduce the risks of cysts and lumpiness.

Thomas A. Lamperti, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 22 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.