Facial Fat Grafting

GalleryFat grafting has become one of the hottest and fastest growing areas in all of plastic surgery over the past several years. A source of stem cells, harvested fat is remarkable in its ability to plump and fill unwanted lines, improve the volume of your lips and even improve the quality and the texture of your skin. Fat grafting has been touted as the next big thing and its safe to assume that most of us have a little to spare.

Stem Cells: The Future of Plastic Surgery

San Diego fat grafting surgeon Vince Marin discusses using excess fat after liposuction to make stem cells that can then be re-injected into the body to rejuvenate skin and augment parts for the body such as the face, breasts or butt.

Cast: Vincent Marin, MD

Fat Grafting Candidates

Candidates for fat grafting are quite varied. Our patients who are candidates for fillers such as Restylane and JUVÉDERM who don’t like the idea of regularly coming back for more product, patients who need significant volume of filler, patients who want to use their “own tissue” to achieve their goals, patients who are undergoing liposuction and want to make use of the extra or most commonly patients who are undergoing a facelift and use the fat as the “icing on the cake” to complete and refine their final result.

Fat Grafting Procedure

Fat grafting can be performed by itself under local anesthesia or in conjunction with nearly any other surgery under general anesthesia. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour depending upon the volume injected. Fat “take” or the amount that survives is approximately 40-60 percent of the total volume injected. Usually, about half of what we place will actually remain over time. The portion of fat that survives is yours to keep and should last for years to come. Fat is harvested in a similar manner to liposuction with care taken to not use traditional suction devices to preserve the integrity of the fat. The fat is then processed and reinjected into the areas to be treated through tiny incisions. No sutures are used and the incisions are merely dressed with a simple steri-strip.

Tab Case Breastaug Img


Fat Grafting

1 – 2 hours depending upon the extent of the procedure

Local with oral sedation


Side Effects:
Possible bruising

Incomplete correction, contour irregularities

Back to work: 3 – 4 days
More strenuous activity: 2 – 3 weeks

Final Appearance:
6 – 8 weeks

Duration of Results:
3 – 5 years

Fat Grafting Recovery and Results

Most of our fat grafting patients will experience some degree of swelling and bruising, but this is quite variable. The procedure combined with the local anesthesia and an “over-fill” of the areas (knowing that half of the fat will disappear) combine to produce a noticeable change. This will rapidly diminish or often blend in with the recovery of other facial procedures if performed together. Fat grafting patients regularly see an improvement in age lines, enhanced facial volume and improved skin quality and texture. I often plan a second (and sometimes third) expected procedure to achieve a “complete” correction, as fat grafting is not a technique that we want to “over-do” on the first try. This allows for improved outcomes, with an easier recovery period associated with less swelling and bruising.

Stem Cells and “Supercharged” Fat

Recent research has shown that the use of stem cells has been successful in regenerating many different tissues. Active studies are attempting to determine the effect of using concentrated stem cells in conjunction with fat grafting – this has been termed “supercharging” fat.  Initial results are encouraging that the presence of stem cells are enhancing the survival of fat grafting – making the technique even more successful.  However, the use of stem cells is not yet approved for use in the United States. Thus, although not currently available, this will likely be a technique that is commonplace as we move forward into the future of medicine.

Fat Grafting Consults

If you are interested in knowing more about a fat grafting procedure, contact Dr. Vincent Marin at our office to schedule a complimentary fat grafting consultation and find out more about the procedure – call now (858) 638-9800.

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