Buccal fat removal is a type of plastic surgery. It’s also known as a buccal lipectomy or cheek reduction surgery.
During the procedure, the buccal fat pads in your cheeks are surgically removed. This thins the cheeks and defines facial angles.
The surgery can be done alone or with another form of plastic surgery, such as:
The buccal fat pad is a rounded mass of fat in the middle of your cheek. It’s located between facial muscles, in the hollow area beneath your cheekbone. The size of your buccal fat pads affects your face shape.
Everyone has buccal fat pads. However, the size of buccal fat pads can vary greatly.
If you have larger buccal fat pads, you might feel like your face is too round or full. You may also feel like you have a “baby face.”
There’s nothing wrong with having bigger cheeks. But if you’d like to make them smaller, a plastic surgeon might recommend buccal fat removal. This surgery is done to reduce the width of round faces.
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Before Buccal Fat Removal Surgery
Who’s a good candidate for buccal fat removal?
You might be a good candidate for buccal fat removal if any of the following applies to you:
. You’re in good physical health.
. You’re at a healthy weight.
. You have a round, fuller face.
. You dislike the fullness of your cheeks.
. You have pseudoherniation (small rounded fat mass in the cheek due to weak buccal fat pad).
. You’re seeking facial feminization surgery.
. You have realistic expectations.
. You don’t smoke.
Buccal fat removal isn’t for everyone. It may not be recommended in the following scenarios:
. Your face is narrow. If your face is naturally thin, the surgery might cause sunken cheeks as you age.
. You have progressive hemifacial atrophy (Parry-Romberg syndrome). This rare disorder causes skin on one side of the face to shrink. It’s known to affect the buccal fat pad.
. You’re older. As you age, you naturally lose fat in your face. The procedure might emphasize jowls and other signs of facial aging.
A plastic surgeon is the best person to determine if you’re an ideal candidate.
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Benefits of buccal fat removal surgery
Buccal fat removal surgery offers many benefits, including:
. More defined cheeks
. Improved facial contours
. Rejuvenated facial shape
. Enhanced facial appearance
. Increased self-confidence
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Risks and Complications
Buccal fat removal is generally considered safe. However, like all procedures, there’s a risk for unwanted side effects.
Possible complications include:
. Excessive bleeding
. Negative reaction to anesthesia
. Seroma (fluid accumulation)
. Salivary gland damage
. Facial nerve damage
. Cardiac or pulmonary side effects
. Excess removal of fat
. Facial asymmetry
. Poor results
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It's important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
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How should I prepare for buccal fat removal?
Before the procedure
Before the procedure, you’ll talk to your plastic surgeon about your:
. Expectations and goals
. Medical conditions
. Current medications, including vitamins and supplements
. Alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
. Drug allergies
. Past surgeries
This information allows your plastic surgeon to decide the best surgical approach as well as determine possible risks and recovery outlook.
You might need to stop taking some medications or get blood tests before the procedure.
Your plastic surgeon will also analyze your face and take pictures to plan the surgery.
During the procedure
The procedure may be done in a hospital or in a doctor’s office. Here’s what it usually involves:
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After Buccal Fat Removal Surgery
After the procedure
Before going home, you’ll be given a special mouthwash to prevent infection. Your provider will explain how to care for your incision.
You’ll need to eat a liquid diet for several days. You can then progress to soft foods before returning to your normal diet.
After the surgery, your face will be swollen and you may experience bruising. Both should diminish as you heal.
Full recovery usually takes about 3 weeks.
During recovery, follow your doctor’s directions for self-care and eating. Attend all of your follow-up appointments.
You can expect to see results in several months. It takes time for your cheeks to settle into their new shape.
See a doctor if you notice any of these unusual symptoms
. Shortness of breath
. Chest pain
. Abnormal heartbeat
. Excessive bleeding
. Severe pain
. Signs of infection
What results should I expect after buccal fat removal?
The final results of buccal fat removal usually become visible several months after surgery once all of the swelling has subsided. However, buccal fat removal results vary based on a patient’s diet and other factors.
In some instances, weight gain or weight loss after buccal fat pad removal impacts treatment results. The natural aging process also causes facial wrinkles, sagging skin and other skin issues that may affect buccal fat removal results.