Facial fat transfer: a natural cosmetic option

Written by: Mr William Townley
Edited by: Cal Murphy

It’s 2019 and in today’s world, there are a multitude of options when it comes to aesthetic treatments. While nose jobs and injections of fillers are still widely performed, a more natural technique for filling out facial volume, which is growing in popularity, is facial fat transfer. Leading plastic surgeon Mr William Townley is here to explain.

What’s the procedure for a facial fat transfer?

Fat grafting is an increasingly popular plastic surgery technique, which permits the doctor to make fine adjustments to the patient’s facial structure in a completely natural way. Fat is harvested from the patient's body (typically thighs, hips or abdomen) by a process similar to liposuction, then purified and injected into the face using small cannulas with pinpoint accuracy. It is a relatively straightforward procedure that can be performed under local anaesthetic for small injections or general anaesthetic for larger volumes.


Why do people opt to have one?

It is commonly used as an alternative to fillers to restore lost facial volume associated with the ageing process (cheeks, brow, and eyelid region) or augment specific areas (lips). As patients age, loss of volume as well as tissue sagging occur. Facial fat transfer is often used in combination with other facial procedures such as facelift surgery to fine-tune the result – the combination helps to address both facets of the ageing process.

What are the advantages of a facial fat transfer?

Fat transfer is an appealing option because, being a natural component of the body, it provides for a natural result. Also, patients like the idea of using their own tissue as opposed to injecting a synthetic material into their body. The beauty of fat transfer is that it is a versatile technique that can be used to adjust any facial contour irregularity, improve symmetry, or just enhance or rejuvenate the face. As with any surgery, there are important risks to consider, which need to be discussed during your consultation in detail.


How long does recovery take and what is aftercare like?

The downtime is about a week but the final result may take several weeks because some of the fat is absorbed by the body. There are no dressings on the face or stitches and patients are able to shower immediately after surgery. Some bruising and swelling is common on both the face and the fat harvest site, but the recovery is generally easier than most other facial aesthetic procedures.

How long does a facial fat transfer last and is it permanent?

Some fat is absorbed by the body – the amount varies, but probably around 50%. The fat that stays is effectively permanent; therefore the maintenance is less arduous than with fillers, for example. However, second or even third stages are sometimes necessary, depending on the amount of fat initially absorbed.


If you are interested in facial fat transfer, visit Mr Townley’s Top Doctors profile and book an appointment.

By Mr William Townley
Plastic surgery

Mr William Townley is a consultant plastic surgeon who runs a busy cosmetic practice in London with a special interest in rhinoplasty and all aspects of facial and breast aesthetic surgery. Practising from his two private cosmetic clinics in London, he strives to provide the highest standard of care to his patients, placing great emphasis on quality, safety and innovative techniques to deliver natural and beautiful results. He is also Head of Department at the largest teaching hospital in London (Guy's & St Thomas'), where he is a core member of both the facial palsy and head and neck cancer multi-disciplinary groups and sits on several national advisory boards relating to facial palsy and complex cancer reconstruction. Mr Townley studied and trained in London, Oxford and Cambridge before gaining further subspecialist training and experience in Toronto, Canada and British Columbia. He has a keen interest in clinical research and improving clinical outcome, publishing almost 30 peer-reviewed articles in medical journals and authoring several book chapters. 

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