Round, chubby cheeks can be cute in childhood and even into adulthood, but some people don’t wish to carry their baby face into adulthood. If you have full cheeks and would like a more sculpted and defined face, the buccal fat pad removal procedure can help you achieve the look you’re after. Patient selection for this procedure is important, as removing these pads can give the patient a hollow appearance if they already have thin cheeks.
Goal of facial rejuvenation surgery should be to create soft transitions between the different subunits of the face (upper face, mid-face, lower face). This approach often involves refining the appearance of the buccal fat pads if they are excessively convex so that this soft transition can be achieved. For patients with overly full, round or chubby cheeks, removing the buccal fat pads results in a more sculpted and symmetrical facial appearance.
Buccal fat pads are located in the lower portion of the face, and typically descend (or slide) into the jowl as we get older, hence the name sliding buccal fat pad. If they are oversized or slide down into the jowl, they can create a “chipmunk cheek” effect. Surgery that removes the buccal fat pads will improve the cheek contour and contribute to a thinner face with accentuated cheekbones and zero visible scars, since it is accomplished through a small incision inside the cheek.
There are 4 components to the Buccal Fat Pad: the temporal extension, the body, the pterygoid extension and the buccal extension. In the procedure known as Buccal Fat Removal, the Buccal Extension, circled above in red, is removed
In general, someone who is considered a good candidate for buccal fat removal is:
- At least 18 years old
- Healthy, with no serious medical conditions
- Unhappy with excess cheek fat (“chubby cheeks”)
- Desiring a more defined or chiseled facial shape
- Someone who has already had a facelift but feel their jowls have persisted
Buccal fat removal surgery is an outpatient procedure that lasts about an hour and uses local anesthesia to ensure maximum patient comfort
The procedure is begun by creating small incisions (about two centimeters long) inside the cheek, starting towards the back of the mouth, near the upper molars. The doctor will then gently extract the fat and use dissolvable sutures to close the incision.
The recovery period for a buccal fat removal procedure is short, much like the period after having your wisdom teeth removed. The cheeks are also typically swollen as if they had their wisdom teeth removed, and are usually able to resume normal daily activities the day after surgery. There will be some swelling, bruising and discomfort for the first few days. Pain can be managed with prescription pain medication. Sleeping with the head elevated is encouraged for at least the first few days post-surgery, in order to alleviate swelling.
Patients should stick to a liquid diet for the first day after surgery, and soft, non-acidic foods for the first five days. They should also make sure their incisions are kept clean by using mouthwash multiple times a day. Most patients are able to return to work within a few days. Exercise can be resumed after two to three weeks. Results are noticeable about four to six weeks after surgery, once the swelling subsides.
Benefits of Buccal Lipectomy
Cheek reduction surgery offers many benefits, including:
- More defined cheeks
- Improved facial contours
- Rejuvenated facial shape
- Enhanced facial appearance
- Increased self-confidence
As discussed before, in many cases buccal fat pad removal is performed in conjunction with several other facial rejuvenation procedures in order to improve the overall appearance of the patient’s face in a natural, youthful and appropriate manner. Some of the other procedures are
- Facelift: With a facelift, an individual can rejuvenate the facial appearance.
- Blepharoplasty: To ensure an overall rejuvenated appearance, blepharoplasty will lift drooping upper eyelids or erase under eye bags.
- Mid-Facelift: A mid-facelift is designed to address visible signs of aging in the lower eyelids and cheeks.
- Neck Lift: The neck lift will address the lower portion of the face including the jowls and neck.
- Chin Augmentation: Commonly referred to as mentoplasty, chin augmentation involves the placement of a small implant in the front of the chin bone to create a more balanced appearance.
Buccal Fat Removal Risks and Complications
No surgery is without some degree of risk and potential complications. The most common side effects of buccal fat removal are bruising, swelling and pain, which are all temporary, and decrease with time.
Potential buccal fat removal complications include scarring, bleeding, infection, and complications related to the administration of anesthesia. More serious possible complications include loss of sensation around the cheeks and jawline, as well as hematoma or seroma.