How Does Scarring from Fat Transfer Manifest?

I am six weeks post-op from a fat transfer to the upper cheeks and lower eyelid region. Now that most of the swelling has subsided, the "tunnels" through which the fat was distributed feel hard and are becoming more visible through the skin. Is this normal? Is it scar tissue? Although the procedure was performed by a reputable, board certified surgeon, I fear that the results might be lumpy.

Doctor Answers 5

Fat injection

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There is a period during the healing phase where tissues become firm as blood vessels grow into the healing tissues. This is called induration. It literally results from the leaky capillaries necessary for healing also leaking water, which is firm. Fortunately induration almost always goes away. Your doctor can guide you if steroid injections or massage are necessary, or in some cases warm compresses or ultrasound.

Generally after about six months patients can expect to see the permanent results.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Give It A Little Time

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While fat transfer does sometimes leave lumps, even six weeks is a bit early. You will likely notice some remodeling or fat loss over time which can improve the problems you are feeling. I would talk with your surgeon about his thoughts on massaging the area and in some extreme cases, performing steroid injections to help the lumps and bumps.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

Scarring after fat transfer

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Fat transfer to the face is extremely powerful and effective technique. Whenever we transfer fat from one area of the body to the other, we should expect to see approximately 20% of his fat melt away. For this reason, there is a significant recovery process after this surgery and patients should wait for probably 6 to 8 months until they see their full effect. It seems at this stage, you are very early in the healing. You should expect to have some firmness and swelling which will eventually dissipate. With patients, we encourage that they use cold compresses for the relief of tight tissue and discomfort and weight until there final result is apparent at 6 to 8 months.

Fat transfer

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The tunnels that you are feeling are from the fat transfer. This is performed by passing a blunt needle throught the soft tissue. It is most  likely induration or swelling that will get better over time.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

At six weeks, you can still expect some transient post-operative changes

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As stated by the previous poster, you may be noting persistent post-operative induration. Scar tissue can remodel for many months post-op and during this phase, the changes can be visible. In my practice, post-operative massage can help clear these changes faster. Massage can help align the remodelling tissue and enhance lymphatic drainage.

Reza Nabavian, MD
Santa Monica 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.