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Buccal Fat Removal: Sculpting Cheekbones through Surgical Contouring
What Is Buccal Fat Removal?
Buccal fat removal helps create a more pronounced cheekbone by reducing fat in the lower face. During the procedure, a plastic surgeon removes a strip of fat, the buccal fat pad, from inside the cheek.
The buccal fat pad is located deep inside the cheek in the back of the mouth, surrounded by muscle, near the second upper molar. It extends right along the mid-cheek area and is thought to act as a cushion for sensitive nerves of the face and in babies, it aid chewing and sucking.
The surgery takes about an hour, and is usually performed under sedation with local anesthesia. The doctor makes a small two to four centimeter-long incision through the cheek and thin muscle. “You press on the cheek from the outside and the fat comes right out,” says Dr. Richard Swift, a plastic surgeon based in New York City.
It is important to note that buccal fat reduction is not liposuction. Use of liposuction in the face can cause linear marks or bumps, so it’s not done. But in addition to buccal fat removal, a doctor may use liposuction to slim a double chin to complement the slimming effects of buccal fat removal.
The surgery cost ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, varying by location.
Who Is It For?
Do either of your parents have very round cheeks? Have you ever been told you have a baby face or chipmunk cheeks? As anyone with a round facial structure will likely know, this fullness cannot be reduced through diet or exercise.
But buccal fat removal might offer a solution. Since fat removal surgery eliminates the fat which creates volume in the lower face, the result is a slimmed down cheek and consequently, a more defined cheekbone. Some cheek fullness may resolve by the late 20s, so it may be wise to wait until after that to get the procedure.
With the allure of sculpted cheekbones being so strong, it’s worth emphasizing who is not a good candidate for buccal fat removal. There are other diet and exercise resistant forms of excessive facial fat, and those types shouldn’t be treated by this surgery.
If you have other conditions that might contribute to fullness in the face, like an under- or over-active thyroid or Graves disease, it’s unlikely buccal fat removal will help.
There is also some controversy surrounding the procedure, as many doctors recommend the procedure for only a very specific patient type—those with truly full, round cheeks. In that sense, buccal fat removal isn’t a guarantee of Naomi Campbell cheekbones for all.
If you have average facial fullness and are simply hankering more defined, high cheekbones, there are better options for you. More on that next.
Are There Any Side Effects or Risks?
Doctors caution removal for those who do not have excessive fullness, because doing so may cause a sunken appearance years down the road.
“Think about someone like Nicole Kidman, in her twenties — that face shape. If you took the buccal fat out, and in 20 years if she’s still a size two, she might look sunken in,” says Dr. Swift.
Here’s why: when you think of facial aging, think “layers.” Our faces are three-dimensional structures with bone, muscle, fat and skin. As we age, the bones of the face shrink and change shape. We lose collagen and most important for this conversation, we lose fat. And not just superficial fat, but the deep fat that supports our faces also slide and thins.
If a patient who doesn’t have very full cheeks removes her buccal fat, she’s in some ways setting the stage for a fat deficit later. Hallow, sunken cheeks maybe appear later in life, even as early as the mid to late 40s.
“The procedure should be reserved for who have fullness in the lower face or a ‘baby face.’ If a patient has no fullness in the lower cheek and wants more cheek definition, the best treatment is filler injections such as Voluma,” says Dr. Rowe. For those people, the focus should be on making the cheekbones a bit more pronounced with a highly viscous filler.
As is typical of any surgery, doctors stress the importance of going to a plastic surgeon who has performed many buccal fat reductions. “It’s not all or nothing,” said Dr. Swift. “We certainly don’t have to remove the entire fat pad. You need to go to someone who knows what to do in order to achieve the desired look and has an awareness of facial anatomy.
The bottom line: if you think you may want buccal fat reduction, consult with an experienced plastic surgeon to figure out your options.
What Should I Expect after Surgery?
Days after the surgery, patients should expect some swelling, bruising, and mild pain and discomfort. You may need to sleep with your head elevated for a several days, but most patients can return to work the next day or after a weekend off.
Recovery typically occurs over a few weeks, with stitches falling out after seven days and swelling subsiding after about two weeks. And since buccal fat removals are performed with an incision inside the cheek, there is no visible scarring.
“I usually give people a mild steroid to blunt the inflammatory response,” says Dr. Swift. Avoid acidic food for the few days, to ward off irritation at the incision. You’ll see some result almost immediately, but won’t see the full effect until after swelling has gone down, beginning at about two weeks post-operation.Having “chipmunk cheeks” can lead to awkward social situations. But there is a solution to a “baby face” by getting an aesthetic appearance that will give you more defined facial angles and contours. Our top Buccal fat removal Beverly Hills surgeons are able to remove fat from the cheek area and provide you with a more mature facial definition.
“This procedure is my number one choice for facial fat contouring in younger patients, and it has a high level of patient satisfaction
Having “chipmunk cheeks” can lead to awkward social situations. But there is a solution to a “baby face” by getting an aesthetic appearance that will give you more defined facial angles and contours. Our top Buccal fat removal Beverly Hills surgeons are able to remove fat from the cheek area and provide you with a more mature facial definition.
What is Buccal fat removal?
Buccal fat removal is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes excess buccal fat pad in the lower cheek areas and reduces facial fullness like puffy and chipmunk cheeks. Also known as cheek reduction, buccal fat removal decreases prominent cheeks and results in a more sculpted facial shape, including in the jawline area.
A chubby and rounded appearance can be attributed to large buccal fat deposits in the lower face. It can affect how your lower jawline appears, including the nasolabial folds from your nose to the corners of your mouth. These large buccal fat pads can make the appearance of those facial lines look worse. A buccal fat removal in Beverly Hills will thin your cheeks, especially in the area of the cheek hollows.
Ideal Candidates for buccal fat removal
A person who is in good physical health, a non-smoker and at a stable weight is a good candidate for our Beverly Hills buccal fat removal procedure. It is also important to have realistic expectations for the surgery and have no allergies to the implant material. Anyone who is bothered by chubby or baby cheeks can benefit from a cheek fat removal.
Buccal fat removal extraction can be performed at almost any age. Every person is different with some people beginning to lose facial fat as early as their 20’s. Fat reserves should not be removed before then or risk ending up with a thin or gaunt appearance.
About the Buccal Fat Removal Procedure
Buccal fat pad removal is a quick procedure that usually takes less than an hour to complete. You can choose between an intravenous sedation, a local or general anesthesia for your procedure. Small incisions are made on the inside portion of the mouth and cheeks so that the fat pads can easily and safely be removed. Depending on your anatomy and facial contour, part of or the entire fat pad will be removed. The incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures. A cheek fat removal can be done at the same time as other cosmetic facial procedures.
What to expect
You can expect the best Beverly Hills buccal fat removal to get rid of excess fat from your cheek pads and give you a more contoured face. Here are some of the great benefits:
- Face will appear to be slimmer
- Fast procedure, often completed in one-hour
- Get a more chiseled appearance
- Improves the contours of your lower and upper cheeks
- Increase self-esteem
- Limited downtime
- More defined cheeks
- No scars visible after surgery
- Results are permanent
- Safe procedure
Buccal Fat Removal FAQs
What are the Risks of Buccal Fat Extraction?
Like any major surgery, there are some potential risks, including bad reaction to anesthesia, bleeding, hematoma, infection, numbness, poor healing of incisions, scarring, seroma, skin loss or discoloration, swelling and thrombosis. There is also the risk of injury to a salivary duct or branches of the facial nerve.
Does it hurt?
Your lower face and mouth will be sore and swollen from the surgery. It may be difficult to eat as you normally do following your Beverly Hills buccal fat extraction. There will be bruising inside your mouth so you will likely have to go on a special diet for at least a week or so. You should avoid acidic food for a few days as you slowly regain strength in your mouth. You may also have to sleep with your head elevated to help with the swelling, which can take up to two weeks to heal.
What about scarring?
Since all incisions are made inside the mouth, there is no visible scarring.
Recovering from Buccal Fat Removal
Following a buccal fat removal surgery, you may experience some discomfort and pain as well as some swelling and light bruising. Pain medications and cold packs can alleviate the soreness. Bandages or gauze dressings might be applied to your incisions to reduce swelling and aid your cheeks to heal. If you receive an incision inside your mouth, a temporary liquid diet and a special mouth rinse may be necessary.
If you have any stitches in your mouth, they will dissolve within 10 days. It can take several weeks for the swelling to go down. Some people return to work within a few days depending on the type of work that they do. Normal activities are usually resumed after a week or so. Everyone heals differently but, in general, it can take up to four months to be fully healed.
When will I see the results?
You will see instant results after your cheek fat removal surgery but it can take up to four months to witness the final results once all the redness and swelling have subsided and your cheeks gradually contour to their new appearance.
Are the results permanent?
The result of a Beverly Hills buccal fat pad removal procedure is permanent and will redefine the shape of your face.
How much does buccal fat removal cost?
The cost of a buccal fat removal Beverly Hills procedure depends on the extent of what is needed to correct. There are surgical, facility and anesthesia fees that affect the final cost of your procedure. The experience of the surgeon also comes into consideration. Make sure to choose a board-certified Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who understands what you want and how the buccal fat extraction will benefit you.
You can also consider the CareCredit program, which is an affordable healthcare financing program often used by patients for healthcare-related expenses. Because many cosmetic surgery procedures are not covered by insurance and credit cards have high interest rates, CareCredit can be a great choice with a line of credit that offers no interest if you pay the full payments.
During your Beverly Hills buccal fat removal consultation, it’s important to talk about your surgical goals, previous surgeries and your current medical condition. You will be asked about any medical allergies and medications, vitamins and herbal supplements you currently take on a daily basis. The risks and complications of the procedure will be discussed with you. The surgeon will evaluate your health, your pre-existing health conditions, examine your face and take photographs in order to recommend the best cheek fat removal in Beverly Hills and get rid of chubby cheeks.
What is buccal fat removal?
Also known as a buccal lipectomy, buccal fat removal surgery removes fat from your cheeks, slimming your face and giving your cheekbones more definition. (Buccal comes from the Latin word bucca, which means “puffed cheek.”)
“The buccal fat pad sits deep in the lower cheek, under some muscles,” says Dr. Raymond E. Lee, a plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, California, in a RealSelf Q&A. The size of these pads varies from person to person, regardless of weight. In fact, large buccal fat pads are often hereditary, and they aren’t affected by diet and exercise.
While liposuction isn’t recommended for buccal fat pad reduction (because it can damage nerves), buccal fat removal is paired in some cases with liposuction to remove fat and sculpt other areas of the face. It may also be combined with facial fillers, to give cheekbones even more prominence, or Kybella, to reduce a double chin and sculpt the jawline.
What are the pros and cons of buccal fat removal?
- You’ll have no visible scars from the cheek reduction, since the work is done inside your mouth.
- “When done properly, buccal fat removal gives the face a model-esque look,” says Dr. Lara Devgan, a plastic surgeon in New York City and chief medical officer at RealSelf.
- Final results are permanent, even if you gain weight.
- It’s a fast surgical procedure: cheek fat removal typically takes just about 20 minutes.
- Downtime is relatively minimal, and most patients return to work after three days.
- This cheek-slimming surgery can create a more mature facial contour in adults who still have a “baby face” look.
- Your buccal fat pads naturally shrink with time, so your cheekbones could look too hollow as you age. There’s a lack of published data on how results evolve over time, but some doctors say they avoid operating on patients in their 20s and 30s because of this risk.
- If the surgeon removes too much fat or you lose weight post-procedure, your face may look too gaunt.
- Your face may look asymmetrical afterward, if your surgeon doesn’t extract the right amount of fat from each cheek.
- You’ll have swelling for a couple of weeks. RealSelf patients have described it as having “chipmunk cheeks,” similar to after having dental work done.
Who’s a good candidate for buccal fat pad removal?
“Buccal fat removal is a nice procedure for patients who feel that their face is overly round or chubby,” says Dr. Devgan. “It creates a slimmer, contoured, and more sculpted lower third of the face,” she says. Optimal candidates are within 20 pounds of their goal weight. While you can have chubby cheeks or an overly round face shape and not be overweight, you want to make sure it’s the buccal fat pads causing the roundness and not fat under the skin from weight gain.
You can also have wide cheeks from overdeveloped jaw muscles. In that case, buccal fat removal would not necessarily help.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you already have a thin face, you run the risk of looking too gaunt without these naturally occurring fat pads.
RealSelf Tip: Buccal fat removal may help reduce the appearance of jowling. Excess cheek fat can push the skin downward, contributing to the saggy-skin look.
“No matter how much diet and exercise I did, my cheeks were chubby. I am very fit, but I had fat cheeks.”
What happens during buccal fat removal surgery?
The surgical procedure starts with a topical anesthetic (or oral sedation, if you’d prefer to be in a light sleeplike state). The surgeon then makes small incisions, about a half-inch long, on the insides of your cheeks. “We then use fine-tipped surgical tools to tease out and dissect a walnut-size amount of fat,” says Dr. Devgan. The incisions are then stitched up with dissolvable stitches. “Most people tolerate the procedure very well and compare it to a dental procedure where you’re hanging out with your mouth open,” says Dr. Devgan. You’ll be sent home with a chin strap for support, antibiotic medication, and a medicated mouthwash to prevent infection.
What should you expect during buccal fat removal recovery?
At home, you’ll need to keep up a regular ice regimen, to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. “Apply ice packs to your cheeks for three days and drink ice water,” says Dr. Devgan. You’ll also need to wear the chin strap at night for the first two weeks, to give your facial skin some extra support. You can expect significant swelling for about a week. Due to the incisions inside your cheeks, you’ll want to stick to a soft-food diet and avoid anything too hot or spicy for at least 24 hours.
“My cheeks were very swollen for the first week, but everyone at work thought I had my wisdom teeth removed.”
When will you see buccal fat removal results?
You’ll likely have a fuller face during your recovery than you did before your procedure, but most of the swelling will be gone within a couple of weeks. However, it can take up to three or even six months to see your real results, as your skin settles into the space hollowed out by the fat removal.
Is buccal fat pad removal permanent?
Once those fat pads are gone, they’re gone for good: The results are permanent. So what happens if you gain weight? “Nothing unusual,” says Dr. Devgan. Your buccal fat pads won’t come back. However, a plumper face due to weight gain can mask the results of your buccal fat removal procedure.
The bigger concern is what will happen over time. Your subcutaneous fat shrinks with age, so it’s possible your cheeks will appear too hollow at some point. Researchers say there is a lack of studies looking at the long-term implications of buccal fat removal surgery.
Why are some doctors against buccal fat removal?
With buccal fat removal, there is concern about how the results will hold up in the long term. Your subcutaneous fat shrinks with age, so it’s possible your cheeks will appear too hollow at some point. Researchers say there is a lack of studies looking at the long-term implications of buccal fat removal surgery.
“Some doctors are against buccal fat pad reduction or removal because as we age the face loses volume, and having a reduction in facial fatty tissue may lead to a gaunt look over time,” says Dr. Matthew Richardson, a facial plastic surgeon in Frisco, Texas, in a RealSelf Q&A. “I recommend that patients achieve the look they are going for now, and enjoy their looks for as long as they can. If several decades pass and volume loss is an issue, there are many ways to deal with this, and there may be even better techniques and technologies in the future.”
What are the risks of buccal fat removal?
While it sounds relatively straightforward, there are risks to buccal fat removal. In a RealSelf Q&A, Atlanta otolaryngologist Dr. Philip Robb says that the physician removing the pads has to be careful to avoid your facial ducts as well as those that carry your saliva. Because of this, there’s a chance of numbness or other changes in sensation and (in rare cases) partial facial paralysis.
Additionally, studies show that buccal fat removal surgery can have complications, such as hemorrhaging, facial-nerve damage, and trismus (lockjaw). As with any surgery, there’s a risk of infection, bleeding, scarring, and injury to surrounding tissue and structures.
Finding a board-certified plastic surgeon who’s experienced in buccal fat removal is crucial for a smooth, safe surgery. “You want to see someone who’s capable and qualified to do a proper facial analysis and who understands your unique facial structure as well as the results you’re hoping to achieve,” says Dr. Devgan.
How much does buccal fat removal surgery cost?
RealSelf members say they’ve paid an, but it can range up to $6,000. Because removing fat from your face is considered a cosmetic procedure, it’s not covered by insurance.
Your price may be more or less, depending on your location, your surgeon’s level of experience, and whether you get local anesthesia or sedation (both of which are much less expensive than general anesthesia).
What are the alternatives to buccal fat pad removal?
A few noninvasive, temporary treatments can make your cheekbones appear more contoured.
Injectable fillers, such as Voluma, a hyaluronic acid–based filler that’s FDA-approved for cheeks, can create the appearance of more contoured cheekbones and even lift sagging skin around the jowls.
Some doctors achieve this result with fat transfer too. “It may seem counterintuitive to add fat when you say your problem is chubby cheeks, but we can add volume to the highest and most projected point of the cheekbone and taper it to the lower face,” says Dr. Benjamin Caughlin, a plastic surgeon in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, in a RealSelf Q&A. Cheek augmentation with filler typically costs $1,000, and results last for nine months to one year.
In a RealSelf Q&A, Frisco, Texas, facial plastic surgeon Dr. Jordan Cain says that if an overdeveloped jaw muscle is the reason for your fullness, Botox injections in the muscle can make it weaker and slim down your face. The average cost of Botox is $550, and you’ll need maintenance treatments every four to six months. Just be aware that you’ll run the risk of having the Botox spread to nearby muscles and cause your face to droop, which is why it’s important to note that the injectable is not FDA-approved for this part of the face: It’s considered an “off-label” use.