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Filler vs. Fat Transfer: What’s Best For You

By this point, you’ve likely heard of, if not have had dermal fillers. However, what you may not know is that there is a more permanent alternative. This technique is called a fat transfer, or fat grafting is becoming increasingly popular in our office and beyond. We know decisions are hard, so we’re here to help… So let’s chat dermal filler vs. fat transfer, and see which is the best for you!

Dermal Filler vs. Fat Transfer

Not to be confused with neurotoxins, like Botox & Dysport, which temporarily reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by paralyzing the muscle responsible for movement. Dermal fillers, such as Juviderm & Restylane, are used to contour the face by restoring volume to areas that show signs of aging. Fillers can also be used to reshape certain features like your nose or lips.

A fat transfer procedure will give the same results, but using fat from another location on your body. Think of it as a two-for-one, losing fat in one place and sending it to a more desirable one.

Procedure and Recovery Process

Dermal Filler

Downtime after fillers is minimal and you are able to return to normal activities within 24 hours. Fillers are often known as a “lunch time” procedure because it takes minimal time and recovery is basically nonexistent. However, it should be noted that swelling and bruising at the injection site is possible, but typically resolves within a week. Results are immediate, but cannot be fully seen until the swelling subsides.

Fat Transfer

Fat transfer, being the more invasive of the two, obviously has a couple more steps. First. fat cells are first surgically harvested from one part of the body, typically the hips, thighs, or stomach. The fat cells are then purified and injected back into the face. Both of these procedures are carried out as outpatient surgery under local anesthesia. Although some patients may prefer going under general anesthesia to control pain.

After the procedure, bruising and swelling can be expected at both the donor and recipient sites. Your doctor will be able to tell you how to manage any pain you may have. As with dermal filler, once the swelling goes down entirely, results will be fully visible, however a difference is noticeable right after surgery.


The difference in results of dermal filler vs. fat transfer are subtle, but the fat graft does tend to look more natural. Additionally depending on which type of filler used, you may need to have it touched up every six to eight months. Therefore, for patients looking for longer lasting results the fat transfer is the way to go.

Fat Transfer Before & After

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We would love to help you pick which option is right for you! Call us today, or check out our work on Instagram.