Medically reviewed by Mr. Omar Tillo — MD, MS, EBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast)
If you’re considering a fat transfer procedure, you may be concerned about the recovery period. In this blog, we will explain the recovery process in detail to put your mind at ease.
Fat transfer Timeline
Fat Transfer Consultation
During your initial consultation, the surgeon will explain the cosmetic procedure to you in detail. They will discuss cosmetic goals, set expectations, discuss your medical history and suitability for the fat transfer procedure, and outline potential risks. The results from fat transfer differ for each person, and after an examination, the plastic surgeon can determine how much fat can be transferred and the shape that can be achieved.
Day Of The Surgery
Fat transfer is usually a procedure that lasts between 1-4 hours. We will provide you with a detailed list of pre-op instructions in advance. In general, you should dress comfortably when arriving at the facility, preferably with clothes that can be buttoned or zipped up to minimise discomfort when getting dressed after the fat transfer procedure. Additionally, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after the cosmetic surgery.
The cosmetic procedure will take place under sedation or general anaesthesia. First, the plastic surgeon performs liposuction to harvest the fat. This involves inserting a thin suction cannula through small incisions in a targeted area. Next, the surgeon will purify and prepare the harvested fat tissue for injection. Finally, the fat is injected into the area that you want to enhance.
The results from your liposuction will emerge within 6-12 weeks as the swelling fades, revealing the sculpting effect of the surgery. The volume from the fat transfer usually takes between 3-6 months to emerge, as it takes time for the body to connect the fat to the blood supply.
You may lose up to 30-50% of the injected fat grafts, although the surgeon accounts for this loss to deliver your desired results. Additionally, it takes a few more weeks for your skin to stretch and accommodate the new fat cells, thus making your results feel natural.
Fat Transfer Recovery Timeline
As the anaesthesia wears off, you will begin to experience some pain and discomfort around the treatment areas, which you should be able to manage with the prescribed pain medication. Any pain and discomfort will usually peak within the first 48 hours, after which it will gradually subside along with swelling and other side effects. Therefore, you should rest as much as possible and arrange for help during this time.
The timeline for a complete recovery varies for each patient. Typically, most residual swelling should fade, and the fat grafts should settle by the sixth month. Thus, you can revert to your normal lifestyle and resume all activities after this period. Your final follow-up appointment will be scheduled between 6-8 months, where your surgeon will assess the final outcome of your fat transfer.
When Can You Return To Work After A Fat Transfer?
The length of time you will need to take off work will depend on the nature of your fat transfer surgery. Typically, most patients require 2 weeks off work before returning to their workplace. However, if you are able to work from home, you may feel well enough to do so after the first week of your surgery.
Additionally, the aftercare instructions will differ for each fat transfer surgery, which you should take into account when planning your return to work. For example, if you are having a Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL), you should bear in mind that you cannot sit directly on your behind for three weeks.
Fat Transfer Recovery Tips
Keep Pressure Off The Treated Area
The fat grafts need time to stabilise and connect to the blood supply. During this process, your body will absorb 30-50% of fat cells. To prevent more fat cells from being damaged, you should avoid applying direct pressure to the treated area for the first three weeks of recovery.
Keep A Stable Weight
To maintain the volume of your transfer, you should keep a stable weight. Since the grafted fat functions like other fat cells in your body, fluctuations in weight will distort the results of your surgery. For this reason, we recommend that patients pursue a fat transfer after they have reached their ideal weight. If you need help losing weight before your fat transfer or maintaining your weight afterwards, you may benefit from a personalised diet designed by our nutritionists.
Take Your Pain Relief Medication As Directed
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to help you through the recovery period. It’s important to take these as directed, avoiding consuming them with alcohol or on an empty stomach. Additionally, you shouldn’t take any other medication during your recovery period without consulting your surgeon.
Don’t Rush Around
Your body needs time to rest and recover after cosmetic surgery, so you must avoid strenuous activities for a few weeks. Furthermore, putting too much pressure on your body too soon can damage the fat grafts and affect your desired results. However, we recommend that you take short walks as soon as you feel able, as this helps blood circulation, which minimises post-surgical risks.
Fat Transfer Benefits
Fat transfer is a versatile cosmetic procedure that can provide many benefits. The primary benefits of fat transfer are the added volume from the fat grafts and the removal of excess fat from liposuction. However, the surgery has many benefits in comparison to fillers and implants, including the minimal scarring from the surgery, the permanent results, and the more organic method of using your own fat, which avoids the risk of allergic reactions.
Is Fat Transfer Worth It?
Many patients consider fat transfer to be a worthwhile solution for adding volume to areas they wish to enhance. In particular, patients are drawn to the more natural method of using their own tissue to contour their bodies. Furthermore, plastic surgeons can extract and transfer fat to and from most areas of the body, thus making it a highly versatile treatment for resolving a range of cosmetic concerns.
Schedule A Fat Transfer Consultation With CREO Clinic
Dr Omar Tillo is a board-certified plastic surgeon in the UK, who specialises in performing fat transfer procedures on multiple areas of the body. In particular, he is renowned for developing the BEST-F technique, which improves the safety of Brazilian butt lifts, and is one of few plastic surgeons performing composite breast augmentation and calf augmentations.
Dr Tillo has performed hundreds of cases, which means he has mastered the techniques and artistry needed to customise the surgery to the patient’s body in order to create natural-looking results.
If you’d like to find out more about fat transfer, book a consultation with Dr Tillo at the CREO Clinic today to discuss your options.