Should you choose fat transfer or filler injections? Well I’m gonna get to the bottom of this question in this article.
A lot of people are thinking about fat injections and filler injections. How to choose which one is better for you?
You may have a doctor who I recommend for you injections of fat, whereas another doctor may recommend fillers like Restylane or Juvederm.
To put it very simply, fat grafting or fat transfer typically is done surgically. Often it’s done in the operating room. On the other hads, injections of filler are done in the office.
Let’s talk about fat transfer, their benefits and the negatives.
Table of Contents
Fat Transfer vs Filler Comparison
|Fat Transfer Benefits||Filler Benefits|
|Your Own Tissue||- Quick, in office treatment|
|- Some is permanent (5 - 10 years or more)||- No downtime|
|- Soft and natural||- No recovery|
|Fat Transfer Drawbacks||- Less expensive|
|- Surgery||- Predictable|
|- Scars||Filler Drawbacks|
|- Unpredictable||- Temporary|
|- Downtime||- Expensive in long run|
|- Risk of cysts, lumpiness||- Can feel firmer than regular tissue|
Basically fat grafting or fat transfer is when you take fat from one part of your body and inject it into another, typically into the face but that fats also could be injected into the buttocks or even into the breasts.
Fat Transfer Benefits
The benefit of it – it’s your own tissue. You’re not getting some synthetic substance or a substance from a different person or a different animal.
Also some fat is permanent. That’s a huge thing. If you have injections of fat, some of that fat is gonna stay long-term, five to ten years, even more.
I know people who have done fat grafting 15 years ago and some of that fat is still there. You don’t see that with injectable fillers.
Another benefit of injections of your own fat is that it’s soft and natural. You’re not going to get that firm lumps that you can often get with certain injectable fillers.
So it’s your own tissue, some of it can be permanent and when it heals, it is typically very soft and natural.
Fat Transfer Negatives
Well, it is surgery and not everybody wants to go into the operating room and go under the knife and undergo anesthesia.
You do get scars from it. Now, the scars are small, they’re basically incisions that they create by taking the fat out and injecting it. So they’re not big or anything, but they are scars.
The biggest negative for fat grafting is that it is unpredictable. They can put fat into one person’s cheek and maybe 30 percent of that fat stays. In another person, it may be 50 or even 60 percent.
So the results are unpredictable. Sometimes one side of the face to the other, one patient to another and one doctor to another.
That’s the big negative with fat grafting.
Typical results for fat injections into the face, for example in the cheeks, is anywhere from 30 to 50 percent. For most people, 35 percent sticks around. Whereas in the lips, only about 10% sticks around.
So the unpredictability is a big negative of fat transfer.
There’s downtime because it’s surgery and because it is an invasive procedure. You’re gonna get swollen and probably look pretty funny for a little while, sometimes as long as a couple weeks.
There is also a risk of cysts and lumpiness. This is not something that is seen very often, but it’s definitely something that you need to be aware of if you’re having this operation.
What about fillers?
They’re very quick, in office treatment. For those people who want something where you walk in the office, get done and walk out and go to work the next day, fillers are definitely the way to go.
There’s no downtime with it, there’s no recovery with it, it’s less expensive for the treatment itself and it’s quite predictable. You have an injection of filler, you look in the mirror and you see what you’re gonna get.
There is no waiting several weeks to see your final result with fillers as it is with fat grafting.
What are the drawbacks with fillers?
They are temporary. There are some permanent fillers on the market like silicone and I don’t recommend those because they typically come with permanent problems.
The best fillers, like Restylane and Juvederm, are temporary, which means you got to do it again. In the long run this can get expensive because you may have to have several treatments of fillers over five or ten years, whereas you may only get one treatment with fat.
Fillers can feel firmer than regular tissue. If you’re injecting filler into the lips and if it’s a thicker filler with what we call a higher G Prime, then it could feel thick. When you kiss somebody, that person may feel like they’re kissing a spare tire!
Definitely the right fillers for the right tissues, and if the wrong fillers are used, it can feel quite firm and unnatural.
What are my recommendations?
If you’re thinking about filler and you’re thinking about fat grafting and you’re trying to figure out what to choose, if you’re unsure or you’re new to this type of a thing, start off with fillers.
It’s easier, it’s not surgery and no downtime. Just try it and see what you think.
If you’re looking for small changes, fillers are definitely the way to go. Because fat is a bit unpredictable, because a good portion of the fat that that is injected won’t stay, filler is gonna get you a much more accurate result of giving you what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for something that’s easy, that has no downtime, then go with the filler. Fat injections do have downtime, it is surgery.
If you’re on a strict budget, you can only spend a small amount of money, go with the fillers because surgery is always going to be more expensive.
And if you want a very precise result, if you say “look I know exactly what I want, I want a little part of my cheek filled”, don’t bother with fat, that’s not accurate enough. Go with the filler.
What about if you want a permanent result?
That’s a good reason to go with fat. It does have better longevity, the fat that stays, does stay longer typically than Restylane and Juvederm.
The other person that really can benefit from a fat transfer is when they need a lot of volume. If you’ve got a real thin face, if you’ve lost a lot of weight and you’ve lost a lot of volume in your face, sometimes fat is a better option, because most people have more than enough to use. Whereas if you’re doing filler, you’re paying per syringe and that can get quite expensive.
Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.