Buccal fat removal, also known as cheek reduction surgery or buccal lipectomy, is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to reduce the fullness of the cheeks by removing excess buccal fat pads. These fat pads are located in the lower part of the cheeks and contribute to the roundness and fullness of the face.
The procedure involves making small incisions on the inside of the mouth, usually near the back of the mouth where the cheeks meet the gums. The surgeon then carefully removes a portion of the buccal fat pad. The goal is to achieve a slimmer and more contoured facial appearance, particularly in the cheek area. The procedure is often sought by individuals who feel that their cheeks are excessively round or chubby, and desire a more defined facial contour.
It’s important to note that buccal fat removal is a surgical procedure and, like any surgery, it carries certain risks and considerations:
- Results: The outcome of buccal fat removal can vary depending on factors such as the patient’s natural facial structure, the surgeon’s skill, and the amount of fat removed.
- Age: The effects of buccal fat removal may be more pronounced in younger patients who have more fat in the cheeks. However, as a person ages, their facial fat naturally diminishes, so it’s important to consider how the results might change over time.
- Over-removal: Removing too much buccal fat can lead to a hollowed or gaunt appearance, which might not be aesthetically pleasing.
- Underlying anatomy: The size and location of the facial muscles and other structures can impact the final results.
- Recovery: Recovery time can vary, but patients may experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort following the procedure. It can take several weeks for the swelling to subside and for the final results to become apparent.
- Long-term effects: Like all surgeries, there’s always a risk of complications, such as infection, scarring, or unfavorable cosmetic outcomes.
Buccal fat removal is a personal decision that should be made after careful consideration of the potential benefits, risks, and expectations. If you’re considering this procedure, it’s important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon or a qualified cosmetic surgeon. They can evaluate your facial structure, discuss your goals, and help you make an informed decision about whether buccal fat removal is right for you.
What is the controversy with buccal fat removal?
The controversy surrounding buccal fat removal primarily revolves around several key points:
- Overuse and Unrealistic Expectations: Critics argue that buccal fat removal is sometimes overused, leading to a “cookie-cutter” approach to facial aesthetics. Some patients may have unrealistic expectations about the procedure’s results, and surgeons might not always adequately counsel patients about potential risks and outcomes.
- Long-Term Changes: The aging process naturally leads to a reduction in facial fat, which can result in a more gaunt appearance in older individuals. Critics worry that buccal fat removal can accelerate this process and lead to premature aging of the face.
- Irreversibility: Unlike temporary cosmetic procedures like fillers, buccal fat removal is a surgical procedure with permanent results. Once the buccal fat is removed, it cannot be put back. This permanence raises concerns about the potential for dissatisfaction with the results as a person’s face changes over time.
- Cultural and Ethical Considerations: Some critics argue that the pressure to conform to Western beauty standards, which often emphasize slimness and sharp facial features, can lead individuals to pursue unnecessary surgeries. This can perpetuate unrealistic beauty ideals and contribute to body image issues.
- Complications: As with any surgical procedure, buccal fat removal carries risks such as infection, scarring, nerve damage, and poor healing. Critics worry that these risks might not always be thoroughly communicated to patients, potentially leading to unexpected negative outcomes.
- Lack of Regulation: In some countries or regions, there may be a lack of strict regulation and oversight regarding cosmetic procedures, including buccal fat removal. This can lead to inexperienced practitioners performing the surgery, increasing the likelihood of complications.
- Ethical Responsibility of Surgeons: Some critics argue that surgeons have an ethical responsibility to carefully assess a patient’s physical and psychological suitability for the procedure, and to advise against it if they believe it’s unnecessary or potentially harmful to the patient’s well-being.
It’s important to note that opinions on buccal fat removal are varied. Some patients are very satisfied with the results and experience no complications, while others might have regrets or complications. Like any cosmetic procedure, it’s crucial for patients to thoroughly research and understand the procedure, consult with qualified surgeons, manage their expectations, and prioritize their overall well-being and self-esteem.
Is buccal fat removal a good idea?
Whether buccal fat removal is a good idea depends on several factors, including your individual goals, facial anatomy, expectations, and overall health. It’s important to approach any cosmetic procedure with careful consideration and consultation with a qualified medical professional. Here are some points to consider:
- Personal Goals: If you have been bothered by the appearance of overly round or chubby cheeks and this aspect of your appearance affects your self-confidence and well-being, buccal fat removal might be an option worth exploring.
- Realistic Expectations: It’s crucial to have realistic expectations about the results of the procedure. While buccal fat removal can provide a slimmer facial appearance, it’s not a magical solution to all facial aesthetics concerns.
- Facial Anatomy: The suitability of buccal fat removal depends on your individual facial anatomy. A skilled surgeon will assess your facial structure and determine whether the procedure is appropriate for achieving your desired results.
- Health Considerations: Like any surgery, buccal fat removal carries risks. Your overall health and medical history will be assessed to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for the procedure and can tolerate the surgical process and recovery.
- Alternative Options: It’s important to explore non-surgical alternatives first, such as makeup techniques for contouring or injectable fillers to achieve a more contoured look. These options can provide temporary results and allow you to assess how you feel about the changes before committing to a permanent surgical procedure.
- Long-Term Outlook: Consider how the results might change over time as your face naturally ages and loses fat. What might look desirable now might not be ideal in the future.
- Consultation with a Qualified Professional: Before making a decision, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon or a qualified cosmetic surgeon. They can evaluate your facial anatomy, discuss your goals, and provide professional guidance on whether buccal fat removal is a suitable option for you.
- Ethical and Psychological Factors: Reflect on whether your desire for the procedure is based on your own preferences or influenced by external pressures or unrealistic beauty standards. It’s essential to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.
Ultimately, the decision to undergo buccal fat removal is a personal one. What might be a good idea for one individual might not be the best choice for another. It’s important to thoroughly research the procedure, consult with professionals, and take your own feelings, expectations, and overall health into account before making a decision.
Does buccal fat go away if you lose weight?
Yes, buccal fat pads can become less prominent if you lose weight. Buccal fat pads are pockets of fat located in the lower part of the cheeks. When an individual loses weight, it’s possible that some of the fat in the buccal area could be reduced, leading to a somewhat slimmer appearance in the cheeks. However, the degree to which the buccal fat pads shrink with weight loss can vary from person to person.
It’s important to note that the distribution of fat in the body is influenced by genetics, and different areas might respond differently to weight loss. Some people naturally have more prominent buccal fat pads regardless of their weight, and weight loss might not lead to a significant change in their appearance.
If you’re considering weight loss to achieve a specific facial appearance, it’s important to approach it in a healthy and balanced way. Extreme weight loss or crash diets can have negative effects on overall health and may not necessarily result in the desired facial changes. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or exercise routine. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your face, you might also want to discuss your goals with a qualified cosmetic surgeon who can provide you with personalized advice based on your individual anatomy and desires.
How painful is buccal fat removal?
The level of pain experienced during and after buccal fat removal can vary from person to person, and it’s important to keep in mind that individual pain tolerance, surgical technique, and other factors can all play a role. Here’s a general overview of what you might expect in terms of pain:
- During the Procedure: Buccal fat removal is typically performed under anesthesia, either local or general, depending on the surgeon’s preference and the extent of the procedure. During the surgery, you won’t feel any pain as you’ll be numbed or asleep.
- Immediately After Surgery: Some discomfort and swelling are common immediately after the surgery. Your face might feel tender, and you might experience some pain as the anesthesia wears off. This can be managed with prescribed pain medications provided by your surgeon.
- First Week: In the days following the surgery, you might experience varying levels of pain, swelling, and discomfort. This is usually the period when most of the discomfort is felt. Eating and talking might be uncomfortable due to the surgical site. Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medications to help manage this phase.
- Recovery Process: Over the course of the first week or two, the pain and discomfort should gradually decrease as your body heals. Swelling and bruising will also begin to subside during this time.
- Longer-Term: By the end of the second week, many patients report that the majority of the discomfort has subsided. Some residual swelling might still be present, but it should continue to improve over the following weeks.
Remember that everyone’s pain experience is unique, and some individuals might find the procedure more uncomfortable than others. Surgeons will often provide guidance on managing discomfort through prescribed pain medications, cold compresses, and other measures. Following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions and taking care of yourself during the recovery period can also contribute to a smoother and less painful healing process.
It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your surgeon about pain management and your concerns before the procedure. They can provide you with detailed information about what to expect and how best to manage any discomfort you might experience.
Dr Clara Lee is specializes in aesthetic/cosmetic plastic surgery of the face, nose, breast and body, and is considered one of the best facial plastic surgeons in the world. MD, FACS, is highly qualified and experienced in the field of plastic surgery and aesthetic care and has performed over 10,000 surgical procedures.
Dr. Clara Lee couples his outstanding professional credentials and ethics with a personalized approach to patient care and a keen eye for aesthetic beauty.
Specialties: plastic surgeon, plastic surgery
by Clara Lee
Reviewed by Clara Lee
approved by Dr Clara Lee