Surgery/Cosmetic

Buccal Fat Removal




Buccal fat removal, also called cheek reduction surgery or buccal lipectomy, is the process of thinning the cheeks and redefining facial angles by removing the “extra padding” in your cheeks. It can be performed as a solo surgery, or be combined with any other number of cosmetic procedures such as chin implant surgery, facelift, neck liposuction, or rhinoplasty.

Edward J. Gross, M.D., is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon at Primera Plastic Surgery and Med Spa. He says that the first questions most patients ask is where is the buccal fat located? Dr. Gross responds that, “It’s located in the cheek in a deep fat pad encapsulated between the buccinator muscle and the masseter muscle.” The masseter muscle is the muscle that helps you chew food.

Why Would I Need Buccal Fat Removal?

Hypertrophy, or buccal fat enlargement, is what makes your face overly round or “cheeky.” It can be a characteristic passed down by families, and it is unaffected by the physical shape the rest of your body is in. You cannot exercise your way to a thinner face!

The goal of buccal fat removal surgery is to thin out the cheek areas and make them more chiseled or less round. The areas of buccal fat on your cheeks can resemble the size of a ping pong ball but the exact size of each buccal fat pad varies by the individual patient, so it’s important to find a skilled facial plastic surgeon to ensure you get the best result. 

If you’re unhappy with the shape of your face, buccal fat removal may be right for you. Dr. Gross says that, “Buccal fat removal is helpful in patients with ‘chipmunk cheeks’ and a baby face or round face.” 

Removing facial buccal fat helps: 

  • Improve the look of facial jowls 
  • Contour the jawline
  • Define the cheeks and cheek bones

You may seek buccal fat removal for several reasons, but it’s common for patients to consider this surgery when they’re looking for a greater depth of maturing in their faces. They may seek surgical slimming of their cheeks, when they grow frustrated that their face doesn’t match the rest of their body after dieting and working out. 

Am I a Good Candidate for Buccal Fat Removal Surgery?

Each buccal fat removal surgery is different because every patient is unique. It can address fat, chubby cheeks or eliminate a baby face on an adult patient. You are a good candidate if you:

  • Are physical healthy
  • Have an overall stable weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Are bothered by your appearance (fat face, full cheeks, chipmunk cheeks)

If your face is already narrow, or if you’re older, the surgery may not be a fit, because as you age your face naturally loses fat.

If you decide to pursue the surgery, the consultation for buccal fat removal typically consists of a health analysis including:

  • A discussion of your goals
  • Any medical conditions or allergies
  • Previous surgeries
  • Your general overall health and preexisting conditions
  • Risks, complications, and the procedure itself
  • What to expect after the procedure?
  • A Computer Imaging session with Dr. Gross

It’s a good idea to ask questions during your consultation. These could include asking about your doctor’s credentials and experience. Some good questions to ask include:

  • Are you board-certified in facial plastic surgery?
  • How many buccal fat removal procedures have you conducted?
  • How should I prepare for the surgery?
  • What are my risks?
  • What will my healing process be like?

The goal in asking these questions is to be sure that you are completely certain you’ve selected the right cosmetic surgeon to perform this cosmetic procedure on your face.

What is Buccal Fat Removal Surgery Like?

Dr. Gross reports that buccal fat removal is a quick one-hour outpatient surgery; and oftentimes, it’s performed in less than one hour under light general anesthetic.

He describes the procedure as follows:

“During the procedure, we make a small incision inside the mouth and remove the encapsulated fat, but not all the fat. There’s minimal to no pain and recovery time is just a couple of days with almost no downtime.”

The small incision inside the mouth is closed with dissolvable stitches so there is no visible scar. There are rarely complications from this short procedure and the results can be dramatic. You’ll be given a special CHG mouthwash to prevent infection and will be given instructions on how to care for the wound. It’s a good idea to eat only soft foods for a few days after surgery then progress to a regular diet. Return to work in 2-3 days. 

Buccal fat removal will cause some minor swelling in the cheek areas. It will take a few weeks for the swelling to reduce, but gradually your cheeks will recontour to your new, more chiseled or angular facial appearance. 

Dr. Gross will give you post-operative instructions that you should follow to speed the healing process. It’s important to select a board-certified facial plastic surgeon with experience in this procedure to make sure your surgery is performed effectively and safely.

If you’d like to discuss the possibility of buccal fat removal, or any other cosmetic procedure, we encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Primera Plastic Surgery and Med Spa. We are dedicated to helping you look and feel your very best. Talk with the team today!

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