Buccal Fat Pad Removal Explained: How to get rid of your chubby cheeks.
Despite being an old procedure, buccal fat removal has received renewed interest due in large part to a recent expose by the New York Times. As we are seeing more and more patients who consult for buccal fat removal, it would be helpful for prospective patients to learn more about the surgery and whether they are good candidates for the procedure.
The buccal fat pad is a tubular body of fat that begins in the temple region and courses inferiorly under the cheekbone to the cheeks beside the mouth. The size of the buccal fat pad varies between individuals and is often determined by genetics. Unlike the superficial fat compartments in the face that loses volume as we age or lose weight, the buccal fat pad does not shrink over time.
Although a face that is naturally soft and volumized is considered youthful, some people have natural-born chubby, cherubic cheeks that make their face appear too full. For these individuals, removing a grape-sized amount of buccal fat from each cheek can create a more sculpted look. However, it is important to distinguish patients with lower cheek fullness due to reasons other than large buccal fat pads, such as obesity or soft tissue laxity with jowling, because buccal fat removal will not correct these issues. Additionally, buccal fat removal is typically not performed for those with thin, narrow faces because the results may not age well if these patients may become gaunt with age.
Candidates for this procedure should be healthy, have a stable weight, and do not smoke. As mentioned above, there are multiple causes for lower cheek fullness, and suitable candidates should have realistic expectations of what results could be achieved depending on their circumstances.
Depending on patient preference, buccal fat removal can be performed under local anesthesia or iv sedation. The buccal fat is removed through incisions inside the mouth, so there are no external scars. Healing will continue for several weeks as the swelling subsides, and the final result may take several months as the cheeks contour to their new appearance.
Click here to see photos of patients who've had buccal fat removal.