Expert Doctor

Fat Grafting in Lip Augmentation

Lip augmentation is an enhancement of the natural or pre-existing lip by having fat transferred from another part of the body into the lips. Lip augmentation replaces volume that has been lost as a person ages as well as to reduce wrinkles and get rid of a thin appearance to the lips. It is also performed so women can get a look that is considered younger and sexier thanks to having plumper lips.

Am I a Good Candidate for Fat Grafting In Lip Augmentation?

A GOOD CANDIDATE is a person who has:

  • Lost volume in the lips due to aging
  • Uneven lips
  • Wrinkles that need to be eliminated due to thin lips
  • A desire to achieve a “pouty look” for a sexier appearance
  • A wish to use organic and natural materials to augment the appearance

People who are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES include:

  • People who smoke on a regular basis
  • Patients who want too much volume added to the point that the lips will look overfilled
  • Those who are not in general good health

How is Fat Grafting in Lip Augmentation Performed?

Fat extraction – The fat is taken from one part of the body, such as the lower abdomen or the sides of the thighs, in an operating room using a hypodermic needle or a cannula that limits any damage to the fat cells. The amount of fat needed for lip augmentation is significantly less compared to some other parts of the body such as the buttocks, calves or breasts.

Fat processing – Once the fat is taken from an area, it is processed and cleansed by being spun at a high speed in a centrifuge. This process separates the fat cells from any liquid or damaged cells removed during liposuction.

Fat injection – Following the cleansing process, the fat is injected into the area of the lips where the enhancement is desired. The area to be enhanced depends on how much the patient wants to augment as well as where the surgeon feels fat needs to be placed to maintain and augment the natural shape of the lip.

The biggest advantage in using fat grafting for lip augmentation is that it is organic and not artificial. It is recycling fat from one part of the body to another part of the body. Because the fat comes from the patient, the body will likely accept it. More than 90% of the surface area of the skin has underlying fat so it is natural for fat to exist in certain areas. If a little more is added to the area, it is not a big deal.

Alternative Methods:

Hyaluronic Acid Fillers – Many patients use hyaluronic acid fillers to augment the lips by adding shape and volume to the area. Some of the most popular choices include Restylane, Juvederm and Belotero Balance. However, the fillers can cause some soreness and bruising after being injected.

Implants – While implants such as GORE-TEX and AlloDerm can add volume and eliminate a thin look to the lips, there is a chance that the implants will be rejected by the body or they might migrate to another area after being placed in the lips.

What is the Cost of Fat Grafting in Lip Augmentation?

The cost depends on a number of factors including where the fat is harvested from, how much fat will be injected and any fees charged by the doctor or the medical facility. Overall, the cost is around $5000-$11,000.

It is an expensive procedure, as opposed to filler injections, since fat is transferred from one part of the body to another. On average, filler cost is determined by the amount and type used by the doctor. The cost of the fat injection procedure can be anywhere between 4 to 5 times the cost of one filler syringe because fat injections are operating room procedures which includes the cost of the anesthesiologist, the nurses, the instruments and the operating room fees.

Recovery and Downtime

The amount of RECOVERY and DOWNTIME depends on how much trauma happened during the time of injection. Many fat injections are done using a blunt tipped cannula which is less likely to cause bruising. If a larger caliber needle is inserted into the skin, this injection comes with a greater risk of bruising after the augmentation. If bruising happens, the patient is looking at seven days of recovery for the bruise to completely go away. Swelling can last for a few days and then it settles.

There are no restrictions when it comes to activities after the injection. People can work out as they see fit.


After fat grafting in the lip area is performed, most of it will be gone after 5 or 6 months. The same thing happens with fillers as well. There are no long-term results from fat grafting but it does improve the texture of the lips. It makes them feel softer and less wrinkly. Fat injections are 99% technique-dependent so the results vary from surgeon to surgeon. The fat can die just like any regular transplant tissue.

Once the volume goes down, the patient can have a touch-up procedure. There is no problem injecting the same area again with fat. Patients can have a touch-up every 6 months or once a year or whenever they prefer. Minor adjustments in the lip are fine with fillers as opposed to doing the whole fat transfer procedure again.

Limitations and Risks of Fat Grafting in Lip Augmentation

The main LIMITATION is the right procedure selection. Most patients can use a filler or fat. If a patient is strictly a fat augmentation case, the decision to move forward depends on their expectations and how much they want to augment the area.

Another big limit is the cost. The cost is higher for fat grafting. Since the doctor is working with the patient’s own fat, there are a lot of instruments used to extract it, cleanse it and make it healthy enough for injection. The whole process takes more time and is more expensive.

When it comes to RISKS, they are similar to ones with fillers:

  • The doctor must know where the major muscles are to make sure he is not injecting fat into the blood vessels as opposed to the skin
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Lumpiness can occur in some patients due to the amount/type of fat injected, the underlying anatomy of the areas and how the fat was cleansed/processed

Patients like the Organic use of Fat

Fat grafting in lip augmentation is a popular procedure because it involves patients using their own fat. They like the fact that it is organic. However, the cost might be a factor in people being able to afford the procedure. Patients should schedule a consultation with an experienced and board-certified physician to determine if fat grafting is the best option for them.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Misbah Khan, MD in New York, NY