May 22, 2024

Trimming the Cheeks: A Comprehensive Guide to Buccal Fat Removal

Trimming the Cheeks: A Comprehensive Guide to Buccal Fat Removal

Looking for a sharper facial contour? Buccal fat removal can transform puffy cheeks into a more chiseled appearance. In this article, we’ll explore if you’re a candidate for this procedure, what to expect during surgery and recovery, and the essential facts to consider before opting in. No fluff—just what you need to know about redefining your facial silhouette with buccal fat removal.

Key Takeaways

  • Buccal fat removal surgery can sculpt your face, offering a slimmer appearance and enhancing cheek contours for those who dream of a more defined facial structure.
  • Proper candidate evaluation for buccal fat removal is essential, taking into account age, facial structure, and genetic factors, with expert consultation from a board-certified plastic surgeon.
  • The results of buccal fat removal are long-lasting, but the process involves a surgical journey, careful planning, and post-surgery care to manage risks and ensure optimal outcomes.

Understanding Buccal Fat and Its Role in Facial Contours

Buccal fat pads are rounded masses of fat tissue located in the hollow area beneath the cheekbone, playing a significant role in facial fullness and symmetry, as well as interacting with facial muscles. Their size significantly affects the appearance of your facial contours, setting the tone for how your face looks. A more prominent buccal fat pad can give you a fuller, rounder face, while smaller buccal fat pads can result in a more contoured, chiseled look.

Buccal fat removal surgery, also known as buccal lipectomy, cheek reduction, or buccal fat pad excision, targets these fat pads. By removing buccal fat, the surgery aims to create a slimmer face, enhancing facial aesthetics, and contouring the cheeks. If you’ve been dreaming of a more defined face shape, buccal fat pad removal might be the key to achieving your desired facial shape through buccal fat reduction.

Evaluating Your Suitability for Buccal Fat Removal

Illustration of a person with fuller face seeking more pronounced cheekbones

While buccal fat removal may sound like a dream come true, it’s important to understand whether you’re a suitable candidate for this procedure. Considering factors like age, body weight, and lifestyle are crucial before taking the plunge. Doctors often suggest waiting until a patient is at least 18-20 years old before considering buccal fat removal, as this allows for natural changes in face shape and fat pad distribution.

In addition to age and lifestyle, your unique genetic factors also play a crucial role in determining your suitability for the procedure. For instance, certain facial shapes, such as a naturally narrow face, might not benefit from buccal fat removal. That’s why it’s so important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can help you make an informed decision based on your unique facial features and aesthetic goals.

The Journey Through Buccal Fat Removal Surgery

Illustration of a person undergoing buccal fat removal surgery

Like any other cosmetic procedure, buccal fat removal involves a carefully planned and executed journey. This journey, which includes an initial consultation, the surgery itself, and recovery, is crucial to ensuring the procedure’s success and your satisfaction with the results.

Initial Consultation and Planning

The first step in your journey is the initial consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in cheek reduction surgery. During this consultation, the surgeon will:

  • Assess your facial structures and fat deposits
  • Understand your unique facial features
  • Plan the procedure to suit your specific needs and desired outcomes

This assessment is crucial for ensuring the best results from your cheek reduction surgery.

In addition to assessing your facial features, the surgeon will also discuss potential complications and customize the surgical plan to suit your needs. This is an essential part of the process, as it allows the surgeon to create a plan that maximizes the procedure’s success and minimizes potential risks.

The Buccal Fat Removal Procedure

Once the plan is laid out, the actual buccal fat removal procedure begins. This surgery, which typically takes around 45 minutes, can be performed using either general anesthesia or local anesthesia, depending on your comfort level and the surgeon’s recommendation.

The buccal fat removal process involves making an internal incision in the cheek. This method, known as intraoral incision, ensures that there are no visible scars on the face post-surgery. The incision is typically made inside the mouth near the upper molar teeth, allowing the surgeon to access and remove the buccal fat pads.

Post-Surgical Care and Recovery

After the surgery, it’s time for the recovery process to begin. While recovery from buccal fat removal typically lasts around three weeks, most swelling subsides after the first week, and patients can usually resume normal activities within a few days to a week.

Post-operative care is crucial to a successful recovery. This involves adhering to a liquid diet for the initial several days post-surgery, gradually transitioning to soft foods, and ultimately returning to your normal diet. Maintaining oral hygiene to manage the incision site is also key, as is following the detailed aftercare instructions provided by your surgeon, to ensure optimal healing and the best possible results.

Life After Buccal Fat Pad Reduction

Illustration of a person with reduced buccal fat pads

So, what can you expect after buccal fat pad reduction? Here is a timeline of the recovery process:

  • Within a week following the procedure, most patients can return to their normal activities as initial post-operative discomfort and swelling begin to subside.
  • After a week, the facial swelling starts to diminish.
  • The initial results of the buccal fat removal become visible after about two months.
  • Full results are observable after about two months.

It’s also important to note that the results of buccal fat removal are enduring, as the fat cells do not regenerate. However, aging and significant weight changes post-surgery can influence the overall facial aesthetic, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to preserving the results long term.

Potential Complications and How to Navigate Them

Like any surgical procedure, buccal fat removal comes with potential complications. These can range from excessive bleeding and anesthesia complications to nerve injury, infection, and dissatisfaction with the results. Serious yet rare complications include severe bleeding from damage to the sphenopalatine artery and accumulation of saliva due to obstruction of the Stenson duct, alongside potential injuries to vital structures such as vessels and the facial nerve.

While these complications may sound daunting, it’s important to remember that with the right post-operative care and open communication with your surgeon, most of these risks can be effectively navigated. Following your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions vigilantly and promptly addressing any issues that arise during recovery can significantly reduce the risk of complications and ensure a smooth recovery.

Aesthetic Outcomes: Before and After Photos

Wondering what kind of transformation you can expect from buccal fat removal? Before and after photos offer an excellent visual representation of the changes you can anticipate. These photos showcase changes in facial aesthetics from various viewpoints, including front, 3/4th side, and profile views, and serve as procedural evidence of the facial changes achievable through buccal fat pad removal.

These photo galleries can help you set realistic expectations for your own results and give you an idea of the kind of transformation you can expect from the procedure. Remember, every face is unique, and the results will vary from person to person.

Financial Considerations: Buccal Fat Removal Cost

Illustration of financial considerations for buccal fat removal cost

One cannot ignore the financial aspect of buccal fat removal. The approximate cost of the procedure typically ranges between $2,000 and $5,000, with an average cost reported at $2,883. However, factors like the surgeon’s level of experience, their geographic location, and the specific method of surgery performed can influence the overall price.

It’s crucial to remember that additional costs such as:

  • anesthesia
  • operating room facilities
  • medical tests
  • x-rays
  • other related expenses

Moreover, while most plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans for buccal fat removal, a type of plastic surgery, such cosmetic procedures are generally not covered by health insurance.

Making an Informed Decision: Risks vs. Benefits

Deciding to have buccal fat removal is a serious choice that requires careful consideration. It’s important to weigh the factors before making a decision. It involves weighing the risks and benefits, understanding how results might change over time, and making an informed decision with the help of your surgeon.

Counseling patients about the pros and cons of the procedure is vital to assist them in making an informed decision. It’s important for patients to be fully aware of the potential risks and complications associated with buccal fat pad reduction before deciding to go ahead with the procedure.


Buccal fat removal surgery offers a clear path to achieving a more contoured, chiseled face for those struggling with a fuller face shape. From understanding what buccal fat is and its role in shaping our face, to evaluating your suitability for the procedure, understanding the surgery process, recovery, and life post-surgery, we’ve covered all you need to know about this transformative procedure.

While this procedure comes with its share of potential complications and financial considerations, the enduring results it offers make it a worthwhile consideration for those seeking to enhance their facial aesthetics. Always remember, the decision to undergo buccal fat removal should be made in consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon, taking into account your specific needs, desired outcomes, and overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is buccal fat?

Buccal fat is a rounded mass of fat that creates fullness and symmetry in the cheeks. It is located in the hollow area beneath the cheekbone!

Who is a suitable candidate for buccal fat removal?

If you have a fuller face and want more defined cheekbones or a less rounded appearance, buccal fat removal might be perfect for you! It's best for candidates who are at least 18-20 years old, have a stable body weight, and realistic expectations.

How long does recovery from buccal fat removal take?

You'll be thrilled to know that recovery from buccal fat removal usually takes around three weeks, with swelling decreasing significantly after the first week!

What are the potential complications of buccal fat removal?

Buccal fat removal can lead to potential complications like excessive bleeding, infection, nerve injury, and dissatisfaction with the results. It's important to discuss these risks with your surgeon before undergoing the procedure.

Dr. Ali Izadpanah, 
Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Ali Izadpanah, a renowned triple board-certified plastic surgeon based in Montreal, is celebrated for his unparalleled expertise and unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional patient care.
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