If you’re considering plastic surgery or non-surgical treatments to look younger, then you probably want to look as close to your natural self as possible after the treatment – minus the remnants of your older-looking features.

Aging produces various effects, including wrinkling, sagging skin, and facial volume loss. Fortunately, there are many effective and safe procedures available to help slow signs of aging.

Two popular options, fat transfer to the face and facial fillers, are a great way to restore youth to the face. How do these treatments differ, and are they right for you?

What Are Dermal Fillers?

Dermal Fillers are artificial gels used to fill in lines and wrinkles and restore volume to the face. There are many types of fillers available, some of which are best suited to wrinkling, and others which are specially formulated for volume loss. All fillers are administered via injection.

What Is Fat Transfer?

Fat transfer is a procedure that takes excess fat from one area of the body for the purpose of injecting it into the face to restore volume and youth to the face. The treated areas are somewhat overfilled, as some of the cells will not survive and be reabsorbed into the body.

Surgical vs. Non-Surgical

While facial fat transfer involves injecting fat harvested from the body into the face, it is a minor surgery; there is only one small incision requiring one stitch from where the fat is harvested. There is some recovery due to swelling and the patient must be willing to accept the small risk involved with minor surgery, as well as a short anesthesia and recovery.

Non-surgical fillers are attractive because they require no anesthesia and little discomfort, but the extent of the results is more limited.

Recovery Time

Fillers require little to no downtime, as they are simply injected and begin to work immediately. There may be some bruising with some injections. Fat transfer requires some mild recovery, but patients should be up and about in a week or two.


Treatments can be expensive, and the longer your results are likely to last, the better. Fillers are unfortunately only temporary solutions to wrinkles, typically lasting from six to 18 months depending on the formula.

A major advantage of fat transfer is its longevity. Because the fat is a natural part of the body, the injected cells can live for years, except for the small number that are reabsorbed.


Because fat transfer is a more in-depth process, the treatment is, naturally, more expensive than fillers. However, the results last longer, since the fat remains in the areas to which it has been injected, unless the body reabsorbs some of the material.

Fillers have a lower initial cost, but because they are temporary, costs can add up over time. It’s a good idea to evaluate how often you will be willing to refresh your fillers when considering the cost comparison.

Added Benefits

There are additional benefits to each treatment. Dermal fillers are great for special events because they are quick and convenient to administer, with no to minimal recovery time. If you’d like to look a bit fresher for wedding or other event, it’s easy with fillers. Fillers are also extremely versatile, with different brands and formulas suited to treating many different signs of aging.

Fat transfer is a great solution for people who would like to look younger and are looking for a more complete approach to volume restoration.  Fat transfer is often combined with other procedures as well.


Of course, when most people seek cosmetic treatments, the most important factor is effectiveness. There’s no point in undergoing a procedure unless chances are the results will be significant. Both procedures produce good results when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. Fat transfer has the benefit of global improvement and the potential for years of benefit. Fillers are more precise, but lack the longevity of fat.

A Combination

Sometimes, the best course of action is simply to combine these two procedures for comprehensive anti-aging. Facial fat transfer does a great job of restoring volume and lift to the face, but is sometimes limited in the amount of improvement that can be made to fine lines around the mouth. By adding dermal filler treatments to fat transfer, the surgeon can address all areas of concern at once.

Not Sure?

Don’t worry if you’re not sure which treatment is right for you. That’s where your facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Buckingham comes in! During your consultation, Dr. Buckingham will assess your candidacy and discuss your goals for facial rejuvenation. He will be able to recommend a specific course of action tailored to your needs.

It’s important to choose an experienced, skilled doctor you trust. You may want to schedule a few consultations before making your decision. When you’re ready to move forward, visit expert Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Edward Buckingham  at Buckingham Center in Austin, Texas, to start planning your treatment. Dr. Buckingham is double board certified, experienced, and offers a range of facial procedures. Call Buckingham Center today at (512) 401-2500 to schedule your consultation.

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