How Long Will I Be Swollen from Fat Grafting?

I'm on day 6 after having a fat transfer to my cheeks and I'm not sure how swollen I am. I'm hoping that I'm still quite swollen, because my cheeks are too big. I'm also quite bruised. How much longer before I look presentable? I understand that all of the swelling will take weeks to resolve, but I just want to know when I'll look good, not fat. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 11

The worst part about fat transfer is the postop swelling

Fat transfer is a fantastic technique to rejuevenate the face with natural appearing permanent volume.  It is personally my favored technique for facial rejuvenation.  

Advantages: no incisions, minimal pain, exceedingly rare risk of overcorrection, relatively permanent results in comparison to fillers, low rate of complications (as long as the fat is not injected too superfically!)

Disadvantages: trip to the operating room, cost is typically higher than fillers, 1-2 weeks of bruising, 3-6 weeks of swelling

One week after fat transfer is absolutely normal to have some bruising and apparently "over filled" cheeks.  It takes time for the fat grafts to settle down and for the inflammation (that causes the swelling) to subside.  Occasionally if patients are in need of a short term swelling fix for a social situation, a short dose of oral steroids (Medrol Dosepak) can be quite helpful.

Bottom line: be patient- your observations seem quite normal!

Good luck

Austin Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Swelling after fat transfer

This is the most common question asked in my practice and the hardest to answer.  The reason for that is that everyone heals differently.  I could do the exact same procedure with nearly the exact same technique on ten different patients and have each one of them respond differently.  In general, the edema associated with fat transfer to the face is present for a minimum of 3 weeks and has completely resolved by 6 weeks in most of my patients.  

Theodore Diktaban, MD, FACS
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Swelling post fat grafting

The swelling after fat grafting can vary from person to person and from area to area. The lips generally stay swollen for the longest period of time. One school of thought is to overfill significantly, knowing that some of the fat will be reabsorbed. My approach is different. I think overfilling to the point that people look distorted for an extended period of time is just not realistic. I also feel that the amount of reabsorption ios not completely predictable. For this reason, I caution patients that in some cases they may require a touch-up or follow up fat grafting procedure to miantain the ideal results. The priicing for follow up fat grafting procedure is detailed prior to the first round of fat grafting. I find that this aproach makes more happier people with a more comfortable, reasonable recovery period and a more predictable end result. 

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

The FAMI technique of fat transfer to the face heals quickly

The FAMI technique of fat transfer to the face heals quickly. The FAMI technique refers to fat injections using the muscles of facial expression as a guide. Fat grafting randomly under the skin may swell for a longer period of time lasting 1-3 months.

Edward Lack, MD
Chicago Dermatologist
2.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Fat transfer and swelling

Swelling after facial fat transfers takes at least three weeks to go away and you may have some residual swelling for a few weeks to follow. This also depends on the technique used and the amount of fat transfer implanted. Your surgeon should be able to reassure you regarding this matter. You also stated that you were "quit bruised" which will prolong your recovery. You may ask your surgeon about using arnica either topically or orally to help expedite the recovery process. You should be looking good soon and back to your normal schedule. Best regards!

Michael Elam, MD
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 208 reviews

Swelling after Fat Transfer: Whats the down time ?

Hello and thank you for the question.

Swelling after fat transfer has a variable window depending on several issues including the amount of fat transfer that was performed, the "depth" with which the transfer was performed, and how many areas were treated. The time it takes for total resolution of swelling can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. I would recommend following up with your clinician to get a better estimate as to what your post-operative course will most likely be.


Glenn Vallecillos, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Glenn Vallecillos, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Fat injections can take several weeks to reduce swelling

Fat injections may cause different extent of swelling depending on the amount of work involved in the implantation process, and the different levels of introduction of the fat. If muscle is injected, then swelling is greater than if only the fatty layer is treated. Several weeks of swelling can occur.

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

Swelling and bruising after facial fat grafting will resolve in 2-3 weeks.

With less bruising, there is typically less swelling and potentially faster recovery, but the face is very vascular, and some bruising is common. This can prolong swelling to some degree, but most swelling and bruising should be resolved by two to three weeks after placement. Over-correction is typically done to help compensate for the inevitable loss of some of the grafted fat, which reabsorbs over several weeks to months. I believe it takes at least several months to determine just how much of your grafted fat survives, and if additional grafting is recommended.

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

How long for face lift swelling to resolve after fat graftng.

Swelling after facial fat grafting generally takes at least 3 weeks before you can assess fat graft take and another 3 weeks to see if the volume has been maintained.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Swelling after fat grafting.

How long it will take to go away depends on how it was done. Ask your surgeon and he will be better able to tell you.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 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.