Is it Normal to Harvest Fat but Not Transfer the Fat Until a Later Date?

Is it ever the standard of care to harvest fat for fat grafting and not inject at the same session? My doctor wants to freeze the fat and inject it in two months.

Doctor Answers 12

Direct transfer of fat.

I have always transferred the fat directly. If the fat is frozen it must me done in a specified way or the fat won't last.

Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Saving Fat for later Transfer

   In my personal experience and research fat is best transferred the same day as the harvest. Fat cells are very delicate and need a good blood supply in order to survive.  Fat cells can be frozen, although the chance of healthy cell survival decreases greatly with freezing. Overall if you are thinking about a fat transfer for yourself, I would choose a doctor that will transfer the fat same day as harvest, for better fat survival and better results for a younger looking you!

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Save the fat for transfer later?

There's certainly some debate about this.  Personally, I think the science clearly demonstrates that the best results come with the use of freshly harvested fat.  So that's what I do - use the fat right away.  Frozen fat - even if it's just been frozen for a single day - is much less likely to survive after injection.

Yes, it would certainly be more convenient for everyone if we could do this successfully....but for now, no one really knows the best way to keep the fat viable without a major reduction in fat graft take.

In our area, one surgeon is promoting the idea of freezing the fat for later use....but I haven't seen any solid data showing his success rate with this approach.


All the best,

Thomas Fiala, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 80 reviews

Freezing Fat for Later Reinjection

I think that the results with Sculptra are more likely to be predictable and reproducible than freezing and re-injecting fat.  As has previously been mentioned, there are too many variables in saving fat in an autologous frozen state and saving the tissue for future use to make it a procedure I would recommend.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Fat transfer. Can you do liposuction to store it and use it later?

Fat is a fragile living cell.  Everything we do with fat grafting is related to how to move it to a new place and have it live in the new site.  Just like a new blade of grass, it has to be handled with care, moved to a new fertile environment, and watered. 

From our experts who have studied such things, freezing fat cells decreases the rate of viability.  In English, it means when fat has been frozen and then thawed out, there will be a lower degree of fat "take."  You know it makes sense-  freezing anything changes its fresh quality. 

Some cells freeze better than others.  (In IVF an embreyo freezes better than an unfertilized egg.)  They are refining techniques to improve how things are frozen.  It may be commonplace in the future, but I don't know we are there yet.  Until then, most doctors would recommend fat removal and transfer in the same operation.


Lauren Greenberg, MD
Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Fat harvesting delay

Attempting to store fat for future injection greatly decreases the success of transfering fat because many of the fat cells will die during the freezing and thawing process.

It is done in research but not practical for everyday use.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 183 reviews

Fat Transfer Timing after Harvest

As other fat transfer specialists have stated, a patient's own fat may be frozen and stored for use at a later date. However, it's always preferred to transfer and inject the fat immediately after obtaining the fat. The fat is healthier and in much better shape to survive after the injection. Frozen fat is a higher chance of absorption and other problems. Touch-up fat injections may still be required with any fat transfer technique. Only after a comprehensive evaluation can a fat transfer surgeon help determine appropriate options for you. Best of luck.

Dr. Chaboki



Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Freezing fat

Although it is likely that frozen fat is not as viable as fat that is harvested on day of surgery, it is an option that can be helpful if addition volume is required.

As you probably know,  all of the fat that is injected on the day of surgery  does not remain viable. Some of it will atrophy [or shrink]. Most fat grafting surgeons estimate that about 40-60% of the fat remains viable, and obviously every patient is different. In some, more of the fat will atrophy than in others. Some of it may be technique dependent on the part of the surgeon.

The goal of the surgery is to "get it right the first time", so even surgeons who do have fat freezing technology [-80 degree freezer] available, their goal would be, not to NEED any additional volume added.

But in our opinion, having the option certainly is better than not having the option. Obviously the storage has to be done with proper technique. And revisions are usually done at minimal cost to patient, if needed.

Good luck


A.J. Amadi, MD
Seattle Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Fat Transfer

As you can appreciate from these experts, most people do not freeze fat for later injection.  Successful fat transfer is dependednt on using live fat cells.  Freezing by even cell culture techniques can result in a lareg percentage of fat cells dying.  Thus most Plastic Surgeons do not follow this technique.  To learn more about fat transfer, visit the following web page.

Siamak Agha, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Harvest and inject fat at same session

Harvesting the appropriate amount of fat and injecting it during the same surgical session should maximize the success of the fat transfer results. There are too many issues and variables and not enough scientific evidence that make freezing the fat only to be injected at a later date not a very prudent choice.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 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.