Fat Transfer for Permanent Lip Enlargement?

Is it possible to enlarge or augment the lips permanently though fat transfer? Some people have mentioned that once the fat cells die, the will lips look horrible. Is this the reason why a lot of people don't undergo fat transfer on the lips? Does this procedure also leave bad scarring and lumps?

Doctor Answers 16

Fat Transfer is a live graft

Fat Transfer is a live graft. It requires;

1- lots of live cells

2-small pearls of fat for maximal in growth of blood supply. If fat does not get blood supply in a timely manner it will die. The larger a pearl is, the less blood will supply the inner part of the pearl. Large liposuction cannulas make very big pearls that almost always die.

3- relatively immobile area to reestablish blood supply.

The Viafill system gets lots of live cells, in small, non-lumpy pearls where it has to be, but the lip moves a lot, making it less than ideal spot for fat transfer. Fat transfer is better for cheeks, under eyes, temples, necks, hands, breasts and buttocks.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Lip Augmentation with Fat Transfer?

Lip augmentation has become very popular over the past few years. When lip augmentations are done correctly they can add a very youthful, attractive appearance to the face. One of the common complaints of lip injections is that they tend to go away faster then patients would like.

Fat is a great alternative to fillers as it is going to last much longer. The benefit of the fat is that it is going to last for years to come rather than the six to nine months that the majority of fillers last.

I would not say that they will replace fillers as fillers and fat all have their place. Fillers are a great start for patients so that they can get feel for the rejuvenation that they can expect from adding volume. Also fillers are a great quick fix as they can be done in the office in as little as ten minutes.

Fat grafting give patients more options if they want a more long-term solution or I have many patients that like fat because it is natural and from their own body.

I hope this helps, please consult your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.

Johnny Franco, MD, FACS
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 114 reviews

Fat transfer for lip enlargement

It is definitely possible to enhance the lips with fat transfer. I believe its always a good idea to start with temporary fillers like juvederm to make sure you like that look. Fillers are temporary, but when the effect of them is desired fat can be used as a more permanent solution. Fat is injected carefully into the lips as a graft--meaning it has to "take" in the area its placed. But once it does, it remains there permanently. Fat injected into the lips does have a higher resorption rate because the lips are always moving and may require multiple sessions until the desired effect is reached. If large clumps of fat are injected, they can die and leave nodules that usually are removed. Some scarring is always involved with injection of any material. This procedure is becoming more common as people search for a more permanent way to enhance their lips. Be sure to find a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in fat grafting to answer your questions and guide your decision making process.

Kendall Roehl, MD, FACS
Webster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Fat transfer does not guarantee a long-lasting effect

Fat injections are very effective for many patients in the cheeks and other areas of the face, but it does not tend to have much longevity in the lips, in my experience. There are different techniques of injecting fat into the lips and very tiny amounts injected into the lip muscle might produce a longer effect but there usually is a lot of swelling for several weeks after such a procedure. The lasting of effect is not guaranteed and is very inconsistent.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Fat Transfer is a good procedure


Yes, it is possible to achieve permanent lip fullness by fat transfer. I have not seen bad scarring or effects of dead cells in my patients or among patients done elsewhere.

There are other reasons more people do not undergo fat transfer. In the last few years, injectable fillers such as hyaluronic acid products (HA, Juvaderm and Restylane) have been popular, affordable, and do not require a surgical procedure or donor site. With these products there is less swelling and less need to over-correct. You should be aware that the only FDA approved use for them is the nasolabial groove, but experienced physicians commonly use HA fillers in other areas.

I do advise patients that a single fat transfer treatment session may not give as much fullness as they wish. A second treatment, months later may be useful. We cannot guarantee permanence, but some patients achieve it.

I think fat transfer is an excellent choice in experienced hands, after careful discussion with the patient, particularly when you are having other procedures under anesthesia (facial or body procedures).

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Fat transfer for lip augmentation

Fat transfer is a commonly performed procedure for the lips. In highly trained hands, the procedure is reliable but the permanance of the graft material may be low, leading the fat to dissipate, sometimes unevenly. If the fat does not leave symmetrically, the inconsistent takes in the fat can lead to an uneven appearance postoperatively.

Some doctors would prefer non-traumatized fascial fat grafts (LiveFill) for lip augmentation.

These differ from fat injections in that the grafts, taken from the patient's own tissues, are completely untraumatized, unlike fat injections which are aspirated through a negative pressure syringe and then injected through a needle.

The net result in our studies has been greater permanence in LiveFill lip augmentation patients than with fat injection.

Because the graft material has a high survival rate, we do not exaggerate the amount we inject. This translates to less swelling experienced by the patient.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Fat transfer

I don't like the results as much as it could be difficult to reverse if you ever would like to reduce the size.  It could also be firmer than your natural lips.  This could be best for some one with very tapered lips and is very much candidate dependent

Afshin Farzadmehr, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Fat transfer to lips

Fat transfer is a viable option for lip enhancement. Fat has risks such as clumping, uneven resorption and asymmetry. We have a technique to break down the fat into a very smooth paste, making it less viscous and more even. This allows more accurate placement of the fat with less clumping. In theory, it should increase the amount of fat staying behind, however, that needs to be determined by studies. We usually recommend fillers initially if you haven't tried it already.

Fat should stay permanently after the initial resorption. Best of luck. Dr. Michael Omidi

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

Fat Lips from Fat Hips

It is possible to enlarge and augment lips permanently through fat transfer. Not all fat lives, probably less than 50% in the lips.. In my experience the fat that does not survive has not resulted in any disfigurement, just a patient that wishes her lips were bigger. I have not seen bad scarring or lumps. It is not uncommon therefore in my practice to have to re-inject lips with fat until patients are satisfied. I think that is why it might not be as popular because it is less predictable, despite being successful and long lasting.

There is a significant learning curve and my biggest suggestion I can give you is to use a board certified Plastic Surgeon skilled in the art of fat transfer. Just because a doctor wears a white coat doesn't make them an expert.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Fat transfer to the lips is possible...

Fat transfer to the lips is possible but usually not long lasting.  When done correctly you can achieve great results, temporarily making the lips look larger and also natural at the same time.  If you are not comfortable with fat injections to the lips there are other options such as Juvederm or silicone that can be performed, resulting in a nice enhancement.  Be sure to discuss all the options with your surgeon. 

Shain A. Cuber, MD
Edison Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 83 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.