What Should I Expect During Recovery from Facial Fat Grafting?

I'm considering facial fat grafting, but I work with the public and can only take off one week from work. I bruise REALLY easily. What can I expect? Bruising? Swelling? Incision wounds?

Doctor Answers 15

Fat Transfer recovery time

The  main issue with fat transfer recovery is swelling. Even minimal area of the under eye area can create a somewhat distorted look. Swelling does not usually last long, but that can vary from person to person. The lips also will often be swollen for a prolonged period of time.  I will generally work with a patient to determine  how much time they need to take away from work or out of the public eye depending upon their lifestyle and how important it is for them to have absolutely evidence of a fat grafting procedure other than beautiful results.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Fat transfer to the face

in reality if you're going to get a good fat transfer performed to the face you can have significant swelling and bruising that lasts a week and in some cases almost 2 weeks. Patients often ask me why something as simple as injecting fat and the face is so traumatic. It's not that it's that traumatic but that the amount of fat required to make a good correction can be significant. Part of the "swelling" that is experienced is actually the presence of fat and fluid injected into those areas. This can be done under local anesthesia and can give great results that last for several years.

I would not have this performed if you have less than seven days of downtime available to you.that being said you can have fat transfer performed with very little downtime but it may be much more subtle in its result.

Chase Lay, MD

double board certified facial plastic surgeon

Chase Lay, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Fat injection to the face

There will be swelling and bruising. If the eye lids are injected expect major bruising.

The rest of the face may not have much bruising, but there will be.

If you do not want any body to notice then give yourself 2 weeks

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Fat Transfer Recovery

Hi Alley,

You can expect to be swollen and bruised for 7 to 14 days after facial fat transfer. It depends upon how aggressive your surgeon is, as well as whether many blood vessels are hit with needles. If you have your treatment on a Friday, you can benefit from two weekends and won't have to return to work for 10 days, at which time make up should cover up any residual bruises. Choose your surgeon most carefully. Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Recovery from fat transfer

Possible swelling, bruising, redness at injection site and some edema can last up to 2-3 weeks to resolve. If you bruise easily, perhaps try to stay away from any things like green tea, omega 3s, ibuprofen for a few weeks ahead of time and try taking a herbal supplement of Arnika and or bromelain (both found at vitamin shops) which help with healing and minimize swelling and bruising prior to your procedure. 

Nicole Schrader, MD, FACS
Princeton Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

What Should I Expect During Recovery from Facial Fat Grafting?

When fat is grafted(transplanted from donor site to recipient site ) as opposed to "injected" like a filler, there is a natural biological process that must occur for graft take.  In my practice, this generally causes much of the swelling, bruising is not as much of an issue. The goal therefore is for the patient to leave the operating room looking as good as possible; "like they can go to lunch." Atraumatic technique in the operating room as well as anesthesia techniques and post-operative blood pressure control have proven themselves to be important independent factors in my experience over the last 20 plus years of doing fat grafting. However, the use of a pulse electromagnetic anti-inflammatory devices have dramatically reduced post-operative swelling over the last five years--perhaps as much as 35%.

Certain areas of the face swell less and therefore have a faster recovery, and of course the opposite is true, certain swell more due natural anatomic circulatory issues. Nothing removes dark circles under the eyes to the degree and consistency that I have seen except fat grafting. Pigmentation issues during resolution can therefore also be a post operative concern. Finally men generally heal faster than woman and young women heal faster than older woman, however this is trumped by the degree of facial aging/ facial bone loss. The greater the rejuvenation required, the longer the recovery.

In general a good rule of thumb is one to two weeks before no one on the street will notice your recovery(depends on the amount and areas of grafting) but your best friends and families will of course notice things for a bit longer. Major events should have a recovery period of six weeks as the camera will see swelling the eye does not.

Hope this helps

Andrew Kornstein, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Facial fat grafts

This partially depends on the areas treated, volume injected and techniques used. In general, there are minimal incisions, burising may be expected for 7-10 days, swelling is worst for the first 3-4 days, subsiding by 7-10 days and much improved by 3 weeks. Pain is minimal. Donor sites may be bruised for 10-21 days.

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

Recovery from fat grafting.

Thank you so much for your question.  With structural fat grafting, small amounts of fat are introduced as micrografts and new blood vessel growth allows it to persist indefinitely.  This will result in swelling and bruising that will take some time to settle.  Depending on the areas injected this may persist for a couple of weeks, but can be camouflaged with makeup.  I would recommend a consultation with a Board Certified Fellowship Trained Facial Plastic Surgery Specialist.

All my best, Dr. Elizabeth.

"This answer has been solicited without seeing this patient and cannot be held as true medical advice, but only opinion. Seek in-person treatment with a trained medical professional for appropriate care."

Elizabeth Whitaker, MD, FACS
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Ways to minimize bruising and swelling after fat graft

All the doctors have excellent valid points.

Unlike synthetic fillers, fat graft can create substantial recovery time due to bruising and swelling, which can last between one to three weeks.

Here are some ways I use to minimize these "recovery" discomfort:

  • ice the face before and after grafting
  • cool down the fat before grafting
  • adequate waiting after local anesthesia with epinephrine is given
  • adding PRP to the fat grafting, both to enhance fat survival and to decrease bruising
  • relax the subject as much as possible
  • slow meticulous serial deposits of fat grafts, in multiple layers, in small volumes, over few stages, within the target muscle layers, or subcutaneous areas.
  • steroids if necessary, if large volume of fat is given
  • antibiotics are essential
  • some supplements such as Arnica may also be helpful.

George Sun, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

Facial Fat Grafting and Recovery.

This is a good question.  My patients generally need about a week, plus or minus.  Every patient is different when it comes to swelling and bruising, therefore, there is no precise answer.  However, the more gentile the technique, the less trauma and therefore less bruising.  My patient's sometimes have no bruising at all, and some may have a small amount.  Every patent is different.  The incisions are tiny and do not leave scras.  Fat Transfer is a great procedure.

Walton Montegut, MD
Newport Beach Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 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.