Recovery and Cost of Fillers vs. Fat Grafting

I would like to focus on two specific pros and cons with fillers and fat transfer: cost and recovery. In the younger patient (under 35 years of age), fillers typically are the most affordable way to make a face look more youthful. The reason for this is that the younger face usually only needs very little enhancement. For the more mature face, the reason that fat grafting can be a better option is that the sheer number of syringes that need to be injected into a face to make it look more youthful can be quite expensive when using fillers. That is why the initial upfront cost for fat is easily overcome with the cost that fillers would need over a period of one or two years. Accordingly, someone that has a relatively tight upfront budget, I recommend fillers. Someone that wants a more cost-effective solution in the long run however I recommend fat transfer if one has enough hollowness to justify the more costly upfront expense.

As far as recovery, there is no doubt that a full-face fat transfer leads to a greater initial recovery of the first 7 to 10 days. The reason for this is twofold. First, I use more fat than fillers typically to get the job done. I rarely will put in 20 syringes of fillers at one time mainly due to cost issues. Second, fat needs about twice the number of syringes to get the same result as a fillers does so it leads to more initial swelling. That being said, many individuals do not think that fillers lead to any downtime but that is not the case. Of course, the downtime can be minimal but it can lead to short times of some mild swelling and/or bruising that can last even up to a week. Multiply those little recovery periods 10 to 12 times after filler injections to equal the quality of one session of fat, you can see that you would go through 3 months of smaller recoveries as compared to one big 10-day recovery period with fat transfer.

Balloons indicate recovery and Dollar Signs indicate cost


Sam M. Lam, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon in Dallas, Texas. To schedule a consultation please call 972.312.8188. To Learn more about Dr Lams’ Fat Transfer procedures, filler procedures, or to ask Dr Lam a question please visit his fat transfer forum.