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 14

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

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Recovery from fat grafting

Bruising and swelling are typical after undergoing facial fat grafting. It may take two weeks before most of the swelling and bruising have subsided. Any residual bruising can usually be camouflaged with makeup.

Vito C. Quatela, MD
Rochester Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

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.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 98 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 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."

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 19 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Mostly Bruising and swelling, not much pain from facial fat grafting

 Although bruising can vary, I would say that it is probably the most concerning thing to patients during the first few weeks after surgery. I have seen it last for a minimum of 7-10 days and up to 3-4 weeks for it to be entirely gone. Swelling can also vary, but most people are presentable in 2-3 weeks with makeup.

Fat Grafting Recovery

 I agree with Dr. Persky.  The recovery is around 7 to 14 days, typically with swelling, maybe some bruising but minimal discomfort in my hands.  Fat then can dip a little in a result as the fat cells shrink then improve again over a period of a year when blood supply matures.  See the link for sequential time photographs below and video link below.


dr. sam lam

Samuel Lam, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 53 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.