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What is Buccal Fat Removal?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 25 May 2015 | comments*Discuss
Buccal Fat Fat Removal Chipmunk Cheeks

If you’ve spent years worrying about how to get rid of your “chipmunk cheeks”, worry no more. A relatively new cosmetic procedure is designed specifically to get rid of those fat pads on the face, making your visage appear more sleek and stream-lined.

Known as buccal fat removal, this procedure is not for the squeamish, although it usually is performed using only a general anaesthesia. But the recovery time is quick, and most people are happy with the results.

What is Buccal Fat?

Buccal fat (pronounced buckle) is the fat that is underneath the cheekbones, making you look as if you are a hamster with a large cache of nuts and berries stuffed inside.

While having chipmunk cheeks may be adorable in small children, many adults with oversized cheeks choose to ditch the look. Keep in mind that many people lose this fat naturally once they grow up – in other words, over age 20. For that reason, buccal fat removal is not recommended for people who are still in their teens.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some people naturally lose fat in their face over time. If you don’t want to look overly thin and skeletal when you’re in your fifties, this procedure may not be for you. Heredity plays the most important role in determining the appearance of facial fat in later years in individuals of normal weight.

How it Works

Buccal fat removal, also known as buccal fat pad reduction, is a fairly straight-forward operation. First, a patient will discuss the procedure in detail with his or her plastic surgeon, and decide what type of anaesthesia will be used, including a choice of local or general.

Next, your plastic surgeon will make a neat incision between your cheek and gums, what is known as the maxillary vestibule. This will expose the fat underneath the cheekbones, which then will be squeezed out using small forceps.

The incision on the cheeks is later stitched up, the choice of stitches will determine whether you need to return to have them removed or not. While the whole procedure takes only about 60 minutes, if there are any medical considerations an overnight stay in clinic might be necessary.

Recovery Period

Recovery from buccal fat removal is fairly quick. Most patients report that they are able to return to work in less than a week, although facial swelling might take a few weeks to subside at least, depending on the individual.

Patients will need to take it easy following the procedure, especially in the case of general anaesthesia. Pain medication is usually recommended, and you will need to thoroughly need to cleanse the inside of your mouth regularly, according to your plastic surgeon’s instructions to avoid infection – particularly where the stitches are.

Possible Complications

Any cosmetic operation involves some degree of risk, so make sure you only use a Board-certified surgeon who has carried out buccal fat removal countless times before for best results.

Possible risks of this operation include:

  • Asymmetry of the face, which may need later to be corrected
  • Infection
  • Persistent swelling
  • Permanent loss of sensation in the area
  • Pain

Better Balance

Despite the risks, people who want to achieve a more chiseled facial look might consider opting for this procedure. It is thought that having a face that is too full makes the features appear out of balance, which is why people are choosing buccal fat removal to bring their eyes, nose and mouth into better balance.

If you are considering having this procedure done, think long and hard about how you look now, as well as how you think you will look in ten and 20 years’ time. If your face is naturally thinning with age, this might not be the right operation for you.

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@Jan - if it annoying you, then there is no harm in having a consultation in order to make an informed decision about whether it is for you or not. Good luck.
ExploreCosmeticSurgery - 9-Apr-15 @ 10:53 AM
When I smile I seem to have chipmunk cheeks above my cheek bones and bulging down the side of my nose. I am 50 this year and as I don't mind looking my age I feel that this high facial chipmunk problem seems to make me look more like 60. Would I benefit from Buccal fat removal, or is it a procedure that is only for lower cheeks.
Jan - 6-Apr-15 @ 8:47 PM
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