An under-eye fat transfer is a natural type of dermal filler. This nonsurgical facelift can perk up tired-looking eyes, making you look younger and more energized. During an under-eye fat transfer, cosmetic surgeons use liposuction to remove fat cells from your body. Then, they inject the purified fat cells into the skin below your lower eyelids.
An under-eye fat transfer is a cosmetic procedure that uses fat from your body to fill in sunken, hollowed areas beneath your eyes. A fat transfer is a natural type of dermal filler. Your healthcare provider uses liposuction to draw fat cells out of your belly, hips or thighs. They purify the cells and inject them into the skin below your lower eyelids. This cosmetic procedure can make your eyes look less tired and make you appear younger.
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Dermal fillers are a type of nonsurgical facelift. Dermal, or dermis, means skin. Healthcare providers inject dermal fillers (also called facial fillers) to plump up skin that’s losing volume due to aging. Fillers also smooth away fine lines and wrinkles, making them less noticeable.
Most dermal fillers are lab-made substances. These off-the-shelf dermal fillers are ready to use. They’re a nonsurgical cosmetic treatment. A fat transfer is a natural dermal filler that uses your body’s fat cells.
There are more steps when you choose a fat injection over an off-the-shelf dermal filler. The procedure starts with liposuction (a type of cosmetic surgery) to remove fat cells from certain areas of your body. After purifying the fat cells, your healthcare provider then injects the cells into the area below your eyes. Having liposuction increases your risk for problems and makes for a longer recovery than getting a lab-made dermal filler. It’s also uncommon for healthcare providers to harvest enough fat to perform an under-eye transfer.
An estimated 3 million Americans get some type of dermal filler each year. You may want an under-eye fat transfer or other dermal filler to:
To get liposuction and an under-eye fat transfer, you need to have enough body fat for the procedure. People who are extremely thin, exercise intensely or are pregnant may need dermal fillers instead.
People who smoke may not be good candidates either. Smoking can affect how well your body heals from liposuction and responds to the fat transfer.
Results from an under-eye fat transfer may last a lifetime. It can take up to four months to see the complete results. During this time, the grafted fat reestablishes a new blood supply to help it survive. Because your body absorbs about half of the transferred fat, your healthcare provider will inject a larger volume of fat cells than necessary. If you’re dissatisfied with the outcome, they may recommend another fat transfer procedure.
Treating the areas underneath your eyes requires a small amount of fat. You may want more extensive liposuction to remove more fat and shape your figure. During the same appointment, you can also choose to inject this fat into other areas of your body. These procedures include:
Depending on your aesthetic goals, your healthcare provider may recommend cosmetic facial surgery. You may get these procedures in addition to, or instead of, an under-eye fat transfer or dermal filler. These more invasive surgical procedures require a longer recovery. They include:
Cosmetic surgeons or plastic surgeons perform liposuction and under-eye fat transfers. You should select a provider who has experience with this specific type of dermal filler.
Your healthcare provider will examine your face and discuss your treatment goals. This information helps determine the correct amount of fat to remove and inject. Your provider may mark your face to guide the injections. Photographs can help you see before-and-after results.
You should tell your healthcare provider if you:
An under-eye fat transfer is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The procedure may take place in a surgical center or hospital. You go home the same day, but someone else should drive you.
For an under-eye fat transfer that requires a small amount of fat, your healthcare provider:
You may experience these side effects from liposuction or an under-eye fat transfer:
An under-eye fat transfer is a natural way to enhance your appearance. As a bonus, you’ll lose a small amount of fat from your abdomen, hips or thighs.
Compared to lab-made dermal fillers, a fat transfer offers these benefits:
The area underneath your lower eyelids may look overly full due to the excess fat cells. This puffiness will subside as your body absorbs some of the fat cells during the next four to six months. You can apply cold compresses to your face to minimize discomfort. And you should wear sunscreen every day to protect your skin.
Depending on the extent of the liposuction procedure, you may need drainage tubes or a compression bandage while you heal. The liposuction areas may be swollen and tender for several weeks.
You should follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations about resuming activities. Because of the liposuction, you may need to miss a few days of work. You’ll need to take it easy (no strenuous physical activities or heavy lifting) for about two weeks.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If your eyes look sunken, tired or have dark circles, an under-eye fat transfer or other dermal filler may refresh and rejuvenate your appearance. This type of dermal filler uses fat from your own body, so there’s little risk of an allergic reaction. Plus, the fat graft may last for life. However, a fat transfer is more involved than getting a synthetic dermal filler. You’ll need liposuction first to harvest the fat cells. Your healthcare provider can discuss the pros and cons of this type of nonsurgical facelift.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/15/2022.
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