Fat Transfer

This procedure is performed at St John Of God Hospital, Geelong


Fat transfer is also referred to as lipofilling and fat grafting. The technique involves harvesting fat from one area of the body and transferring it to another area. Fat can be transferred to almost any area of the body. The most commonly treated area is the face- hollowness of the cheeks and temples can be treated and the upper cheek fat pad boosted to give a more youthful appearance.

As we age, three key things change in the face.

  1. The skin becomes more lax, leading to jowels, deeper wrinkles and laxity of the eyelids.
  2. Volume becomes reduced, particularly over the cheek bones, temples and lower face.
  3. Skin quality lessens, leading to less elastic skin, skin lesions and pigmentation, and of course wrinkles.

Fat transfer is particularly effective at restoring volume to the face, restoring a more youthful and more beautiful facial appearance. Dr Rahdon commonly uses fat transfer in conjunction with other surgical procedures such as facelift and eyelid surgery to address skin laxity, and with procedures to address skin quality and complexion, such as laser resurfacing or TCA chemical peels.

Fat transfer can also be useful as an alternative to hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, for example to cosmetically enhance the lips as a permanent alternative to dermal filler. It is also very effective for revising some traumatic scars, and for rejuvenating aged hands. Dr Rahdon also commonly uses fat transfer to refine the aesthetics in breast reconstruction following mastectomy.

Dr Rahdon prefers to use breast implants for breast augmentation rather than fat transfer as it allows for a better, more permanent shape with less chance of the tissue becoming lumpy. Whilst breast augmentation using fat alone is on the horizon, it is not yet considered a safe procedure by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.



The operation can be performed under local or general anaesthetic depending on the extent of the treatment. If fat transfer is performed as a stand-alone surgery, this can be performed by Dr Rahdon at Body Recon Plastic Surgery as a minor procedure using local anaesthetic. When combined with other facial rejuvenation surgery, it is performed under general anaesthetic at St John of God Day Surgery Centre or St John of God main theatres.

During the procedure, the donor area for harvesting fat is prepared in a similar fashion to performing liposuction. The fat is harvested using a special suction cannula so it is not damaged. The live fat cells are then purified and injected precisely into the treatment areas using a very fine cannula to place tiny amounts of fat in tunnels; this helps the grafted fat to survive its “transplant”. Around 70% of the transferred fat survives. This means a certain amount of overcorrection is required which also contributes to some of the swelling following surgery.

Not everyone is suitable for fat transfer. Suitability is a matter for you and Dr. Rahdon to discuss in clinic, following a thorough analysis of your medical history and a clinical consultation. In general you will need to be in good health and not overweight.

The aims of surgery are to improve the contour of the region receiving the fat injection. The advantage of achieving this using autologous tissue (i.e. tissue from one’s own body) rather than using synthetic implant materials is that it feels more natural and carries less chance of infection. It also leads to long lasting results.

The scars resulting from the fat harvest are all very small (a few mm in length) and where possible hidden in the natural crease lines. The sites for the fat transfer in the face are invisible as the incision is so small.

Fat transfer is not a particularly painful procedure. During the operation local anaesthetic is injected into the site of the fat harvest and fat transfer. On discharge from hospital, any discomfort can usually be managed with simple painkillers such as paracetamol. The level of discomfort will depend on whether additional surgery is performed at the same time, for more invasive procedures such as a short scar facelift more effective pain relief may be provided.

Bruising, swelling and numbness can last for several weeks following surgery. Patients can usually return to work after 1-2 weeks depending on the extent of the surgery.

A degree of over correction is performed with fat transfer to take into account the fat reabsorption rate. There is a moderate level of bruising and swelling which may last for a few weeks. The final result can usually be judged at around 6-12 weeks following surgery. Sometimes the procedure may need to be repeated, as the amount of fat retained can vary. If the fat transfer is performed in conjunction with other facial rejuvenation or a TCA peel, the results and recovery time may be a little longer. Follow-up appointments with Dr Rahdon will be scheduled at intervals to reassess the result.

Dr Rahdon likes to review his patients regularly. You will be called by one of his nurses the night of your procedure or the next day to ensure that you are comfortable and to address any questions or concerns that you might have. You will be required to see Dr Rahdon after one week, then at regular intervals depending on the depth of rejuvenation and if any complimentary surgeries were performed in conjunction with your fat transfer. Dr Rahdon offers 24 hour support both from an on-call Plastic Surgeon and his nursing staff.

You will be asked to complete a registration form and your medical history will be reviewed and assessed. For those considering cosmetic surgery, Dr Rahdon will spend ample time with you discussing your specific concerns as well as the possible procedural options that you may benefit from. Photographs will be taken and you will receive an information pack. It is strongly encouraged that you learn about your procedure/s of interest prior to your first consultation with Dr Rahdon. If you have a date in mind for your surgery, it may be booked during your first or subsequent consultation.

For larger procedures you will often be encouraged to attend a second consultation. This allows time for you to consider all the information you have been given, prepare questions and conduct your own research. It also allows time for a cost estimate to be prepared and sent to you. A suitable date and time for your surgery will be organized.

An initial consultation with Dr Rahdon is $185. The first consultation for fat transfer/ face rejuvenation can generally last 30-45 minutes. A consultation with Dr Rahdon is always required to determine suitability and decide on the treatment method and of course to have all your questions answered thoroughly.

A referral from your GP is recommended but not required ( if you have a referral you will be entitled to the $72 Medicare rebate.

Dr Rahdon commonly recommends dermal fillers for patients not wishing to have a permanent solution. This is sometimes advised before fat transfer for patients to see the type of results they can gain from ‘permanent fillers’- fat transfer.

Any operation carries with it the risk of complication. Major complications, however, are uncommon following a fat transfer. During your initial consultation Dr. Rahdon will have a full discussion with you about the risks and complications of surgery. If you decide to go ahead with surgery, these risks will again be discussed as part of the consenting process. Fortunately, with correct patient selection and appropriate procedure selection, the risks are kept to an absolute minimum. It is important that you should be reassured that Dr. Rahdon will not agree to perform any cosmetic procedure on you unless he feels the benefits significantly outweigh the risks.

Bruising and swelling are a normal outcome of fat transfer procedures. This will take up to two weeks to settle but may take longer if combined with other facial rejuvenation. The correction achieved in the target area may reduce, go down or even disappear if the fat does not survive and is absorbed. This is why Dr Rahdon likes to over correct his patients initially. With fat transfer, unevenness may develop but is rare.

We have a large number of patients who travel to Geelong in order to have their surgery performed by Dr Rahdon. For those that are performed as a day case, you will be required to stay overnight in the Geelong area – we can help arrange accommodation for you. You will be reviewed by Dr Rahdon the day after your surgery before you are able to return home. It is expected that you be available for review appointments when required.

As par of your initial consultation you will be given a written estimate of the costs involved. These costs are based on time in theatre.

Your surgical fee is required two weeks prior to surgery, as is your anaesthetic fee. The hospital fee and any medications you are sent home with will be paid on the day of your surgery to the hospital.

  • Dr Rahdon is a highly skilled plastic surgeon and an expert in facial rejuvenation and fat transfer surgery.
  • We are able to offer you the best facilities- St John of God Day Surgery Centre has been voted the best day surgery centre in Australia for three years running. It also boasts some of the best personnel- nurses, theatre nurses and anaesthetists.
  • We are able to offer you the best post-operative care with on-call cosmetic nurse specialists and regular review appointments with Dr Rahdon to ensure you are 100% happy with your procedure. Geelong also has a plastic surgeon on-call at all times.
  • Post-operative laser scar revision is complimentary at Body Recon Cosmetic Clinic should you require it.
  • We are able to provide you with revisionary surgery where required- a luxury not offered for overseas surgeries.
  • We provide the most up-to-date methods and technology with fat transfer and facial rejuvenation surgery.
  • Dr Rahdon is highly skilled in all areas of facial rejuvenation and can tailor a surgical package that addresses all areas of concern.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.