Filler or Fat Transfer? What’s Right for Me?

Dermal fillers and facial fat transfers are effective anti-aging remedies that refine features by restoring lost volume and smoothing the contours of the face. Facial fat transfer removes fat from the patient’s body using a specialized syringe, and then transfers it to their face via injection. Dermal fillers, on the other hand, are ready-to-use injectables that are typically hyaluronic acid-based gels. Both procedures help to smooth fine lines, treat wrinkles, and restore volume in the face. And, for those not concerned with the effects of aging, they are an excellent way to enhance facial features such as the lips, or for a non-surgical alternative to rhinoplasty or chin augmentation. Both dermal fillers and facial fat transfers are popular facial rejuvenation options, and can even be combined to reverse the effects of aging.

Dr. Tehrani understands that each patient has unique needs, and takes the time to recommend the best approach to achieve their aesthetic goals. If you’re seeking an effective treatment that helps you look your best, set up a consultation today with Dr. Tehrani at our Palm Springs, Apple Valley, or San Diego offices by calling (760) 240-2444. We can then determine whether dermal fillers or facial fat grafting is best to achieve your aesthetic goals. 

About Dermal Fillers and Facial Fat Transfer

Both dermal fillers and fat transfers can improve two of the most common age-related concerns: volume loss and the formation of lines and wrinkles. There are numerous factors that lead to these dreaded signs of aging. The natural small compartments of fat that give our face youthfull contours begin to atrophy and descend from gravity’s pull. At the same time, beginning after young adulthood, we experience a progressive decrease in collagen and elastin production – the vital components that keep our skin firm and supple. Although this decrease is gradual – about 1% per year – the effects can be startling as the decades pass.(1) Dermal fillers and fat transfers can fill in hollowed cheeks, tear troughs, temples, lips, and lines and creases such as marionette lines and nasolabial folds, reversing the effects of aging. But that’s not all they can do! If you’re considering either of these treatments, it’s important to know the advantages of each, and work with an experienced plastic surgeon like Dr. Tehrani so that you have optimal results!

Dermal Fillers 

There are so many options when it comes to dermal fillers! Dermal fillers are specially designed biosynthetic formulas that are injected under the skin to restore volume or create a more pleasing contour to a particular area. They range in degrees of permanence and are engineered to mimic naturally occurring substances in the body, or to stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen. Fillers like Juvederm and Restylane contain hyaluronic acid (HA), which keeps the deepest layers of our dermis hydrated and firm. Other fillers like Sculptra use poly-l-lactic acid (PLLA) while Radiesse uses calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA). Both of these promote collagen production for added volume.

Advantages of Dermal Fillers

  • Can be performed in under an hour with no recovery time
  • HA-based fillers can be reversed by injecting hyaluronidase, an enzyme that dissolves the dermal filler and removes it from the body within 24 hours
  • Are cost-effective and can be used in multiple areas of the face
  • Have a firmer consistency than fat, and can be used to sculpt the face
  • Offer a more accurate treatment since an injector can approximate the amount of the dermal filler required for treatment, and results are predictable and consistent

Autologous Facial Fat Transfer

Facial fat transfer (also called “facial fat grafting”) refers to a technique that harvests adipose tissue to inject into the skin. (2) The term “autologous” means that the fat belongs to the same person that will use the fat for skin rejuvenation. Autologous fat is also considered a dermal filler, and one that is extremely biocompatible and possesses low allergenicity. The treatment utilizes a micro liposuction procedure that takes fat from the thighs, hips, and abdomen.

Autologous fat transfer:

  • Is a natural alternative to synthetic dermal fillers
  • May require multiple treatments
  • Is ideal restoring overall facial volume, as well as targeting specific areas
  • Results are softer-looking, and allow natural movement
  • Requires a customized approach, since not all fat will graft successfully

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of dermal fillers and facial fat transfer, and which might be right for you, contact Dr. Tehrani at our Palm Springs office at (760) 240-2444. 


Both facial fat transfers and dermal fillers provide anti-aging benefits. These non-surgical, minimally invasive, same-day treatments can be performed quickly, and don’t require any downtime after a session. Dermal fillers with hyaluronic acid (HA) work to promote collagen production for improvements that can create lasting results, and don’t require the additional discomfort of fat removal. This can be an advantage for patients who don’t have sufficient body fat to harvest, or want to avoid additional needles.
However, fat transfer has the benefit of using a natural substance, so there’s no risk of allergic reaction. The results look and feel natural, because it’s natural fat! And, unlike dermal fillers that only last several months, a fat transfer has long-lasting results that can be enjoyed for many years. However, because it is natural fat, it will respond to fluctuations in weight along with the rest of the body’s stores of fat. Fat also has the advantage of the accompanying adult stem cells and other regenerative properties that leads to the production of healthy new cells to revitalize the area being treated. 

Candidates for Dermal Fillers and Facial Fat Transfer

Candidates for facial fat grafting or dermal fillers will have experienced the effects of aging and desire a solution that reverses the process. They may notice sunken or hollowed areas and creased regions with wrinkles on the face, both of which can be improved by the addition of dermal fillers or a fat transfer. Candidates for each treatment should also be physically healthy, without certain skin conditions in the treatment area or underlying medical conditions, and have realistic expectations for procedural results. Both fillers and a fat transfer offer instant results with ongoing improvement and have little recovery time. Candidates interested in dermal fillers should not be allergic to lidocaine, since certain dermal fillers are formulated with lidocaine to improve comfort.

Personal Consultation

Dr. Tehrani has performed thousands of plastic surgery procedures with beautiful outcomes. He is a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who takes great pride in meeting and exceeding patients’ expectations for every procedure he performs. Dr. Tehrani will help you to put your best face forward and reclaim a youthful, healthy appearance. You deserve to look and feel your best–and dermal fillers or autologous fat transfer can help. If you are ready to take the next step, contact Dr. Tehrani today to learn how dermal fillers and facial fat transfer can help you improve skin tone and texture with realistic, beautiful results. Our blog also offers a great starting point on learning more about additional cosmetic procedures and the results we’ve achieved for past patients.  


Fat grafting is often performed as an outpatient surgical procedure. It can be performed with only local anesthesia. Fat grafting is completed in three steps: fat harvesting; fat processing; and fat transfer.

Fat Transfer Procedure

  1. Fat harvesting
    • Fat is acquired from donor sites, usually the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks. After the area is infiltrated with a wetting solution, a specialized syringe is inserted into the donor site and as the plunger is retracted, it will suction out the required amount of fat. 
  2. Fat processing
    • Fat is filtered or spun in a centrifuge to isolate the viable fat cells. The process filters out dead fat cells, blood, oil, and local anesthetics. Purification improves graft uptake and prevents other side-effects after the fat is transfered.
  3. Fat transfer
    • Processed fat is added to syringes and then injected into the treatment site(s). The fat is then injected at the necessary depth and in the desired locations until the desired effect is achieved.(2)

Dermal Fillers

Many of our fillers also contain lidocaine to reduce discomfort during and after treatment. The procedure is quick:

  1. The treatment area is disinfected, and a topical numbing cream can be applied, if desired.
  2. The dermal filler of choice is injected into the treatment site(s) underneath the skin.
  3. Results are near-immediate, and recovery is fast. Patients may resume most daily activities immediately after treatment. 


Recovery will differ between facial fat transfer and dermal fillers. Facial fat transfer can cause bruising and swelling at both the harvest and recipient sites, but because only thin syringes are used, recovery time is minimal. Dermal fillers are quick, same-day treatments and apart from the usual slight discomfort and mild bruising and swelling from the injection, there are no other side-effects!
After a fat transfer, you may experience bruising and swelling. Bruising will usually go down by the end of the first week. You use an ice compress to ease swelling and any discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Patient recovery is estimated between two to four weeks, at which point any residual swelling will have subsided, and the healthy fat cells will have made a permanent home in the new location. 
Dermal filler
Mild symptoms will vary from patient to patient but usually only last one to two days. Patients can return to their lives immediately after treatment. Avoid exercise in the first day or two after the procedure. We also recommend a cold compress to reduce any swelling.

Cost of Fillers and Fat Transfer in Palm Springs, Apple Valley, and San Diego

The cost of dermal fillers will vary depending on which products are used, and the number of units required. The cost of facial fat transfer depends on the treated areas, and the amount of fat that is required to achieve the desired results. We will be glad to provide an accurate cost estimate upon consultation with Dr. Tehrani. In your consultation, we can determine a cost based on your personal aesthetic goals, recommendations, treatment selected, and any additional fees. Contact us at (760) 240-2444 to set up a consultation today!


  1. Chaudhary M, Khan A, Gupta M. Skin Ageing: Pathophysiology and Current Market Treatment Approaches. (2020). Current Aging Science. 13(1): 22-30.
  2. Vasavada,A., & Raggio, B.S. Autologous Fat Grafting For Facial Rejuvenation. (2022).StatPearls Publishing.
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