everything to know about buccal fat removal

What if you wanted to reshape your whole face without a facelift? Or if you want to remove the fat from your face? But what if we told you that you could rest on the fact that you’re gorgeous already! Some surgeries aren’t necessary, yet the buccal fat removal surgery is available to anyone who wants it. If you have chubby cheeks and don’t find them charming and cute, stick around. You’ll want to see what this buccal fat removal procedure is all about!

All About Buccal Fat

First, let’s define buccal fat, more precisely, the buccal fat pad. The buccal fat pad is the normal fatty tissue found in your cheeks. The buccal fat pad starts at the temple, fills your face on both sides, and goes below the jawline. This fat pad is what we call cheeks. Some people see the cheeks as necessary for chewing, while some people disagree and need more proof of the need for buccal fat. Cheeks, or buccal fat, isn’t a one-size-fits-all ordeal. The cheeks are quite the opposite. They come in all shapes and sizes regardless of gender. In the aging process, the cheeks will naturally shrink and shift up and down, so your once too prominent buccal fat pads will become smaller in size and start to look more sunken. It is the nature of gravity, of course!

woman ashamed of her big cheeks

Why Are We Removing it, Again?

Sometimes a person’s buccal fat pad set is more prominent or sits lower than other people’s, and therefore the self-conscientiousness begins, and self-esteem is compromised in those people. It begins with comparing the cheeks of others to their own, then any sly remarks or ridicule get taken to heart. However, while some see prominent buccal fat pads as adorable and endearing, a person can only be called ‘that kid with the chipmunk cheeks’ so many times before they start searching for a solution.

Besides the naturally cute and plump cheeks, there are the results of not-so-graceful aging in which the cheeks have shifted in a way that leaves the person with facial saddlebags or jowls. In this case, many’ve reached high and low for the best plastic surgeon to give them back their youth!

Finally, we’ve reached the official reasoning behind the buccal fat removal surgery. Younger patients want to have a more chiseled or contoured face ridding themselves of the “chipmunk cheeks” once and for all. Younger at heart patients are typically not ready for a full-on facelift but know if they can get rid of the jowls or even have the jowls lifted, they’ll look younger and refreshed- think of it as a kind of facial rejuvenation.

Who is Buccal Fat Removal Surgery for?

Now, we’ve just described the people who desire the buccal fat pad removal surgery, but not everyone is fit for a buccal lipectomy. A good board-certified plastic surgeon will deny a patient the buccal fat removal surgery under certain conditions. And they’d be right, especially if you’re still younger and have a less plump face.

It all comes down to the board-certified plastic surgeon in charge of the potential surgery procedure. A professional plastic surgeon can accurately diagnose the fullness of your cheeks or the fat reduction thereof and see what type of physical shape you’re in before you sign the skin on your face over to them.

Finally, the buccal fat pad removal or reshaping surgery is a deeply personal decision to make for yourself. If you want plastic surgery and you meet the criteria of the plastic surgeon, it’s totally up to you! Just ask Chrissy Tegan, who’s started a Tic-Toc and Instagram movement to empower all people to live life more transparently, stating that she’s got no shame in her plastic surgery game. So, no one can take that win from you if you get facial plastic surgery! You no longer need to hide behind the stigma of the “shameful” facial plastic surgery. You can live your life out loud.

woman having buccal fat removal surgery performed on her face

Buccal Fat Removal Surgery Vs. Buccal Fat Reduction

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the whole facial reconstructive surgery, it’s important to know your options. While one patient may benefit substantially from buccal lipectomy or buccal fat removal surgery, another patient may not need to remove their chubby cheeks or jowls completely. In many cases of buccal fat removal surgery, the plastic surgeon may see a way only to employ their skills to give the patient a cheek reduction rather than to do a full-on buccal fat pad removal surgery. A good board-certified plastic surgeon can even offer a facial reconstructive surgery to a patient in which the cheeks can be elevated from the lower face area and secured to the upper area of the face to give the patient a youthful and somewhat full look, thereby changing the facial shape of the patient altogether.

There are many ways a great plastic surgeon can reshape the buccal fat, even if it doesn’t involve a total removal of the cheek fat for about $2K to $5K. Plus, if you’ve been chomping at the bit to get another facial procedure done, you can go through with other forms of facial plastic surgery while you get your cheeks augmented. You can ask the plastic surgeon about getting a breast augmentation while you’re there. In the ways that you can undergo some facial rejuvenation start thinking about a nonsurgical rhinoplasty, a dermal filler like Botox, facial contouring, a brow lift, or even a chin implant. Of course, the tummy tuck and the body contouring are done while you’re already going under the knife for the buccal fat removal or cheek reduction procedure.

Why not do a total makeover? It kind of makes sense to get it all done simultaneously, and it will add that WOW factor upon the full recovery of each procedure.

photo of before and after comparison, woman's face buccal fat removal

What Does Buccal Fat Removal Surgery Entail?

After the patient has contacted a board-certified plastic surgeon, they’ll likely set up an appointment to come into the office so that the patient and the plastic surgeon can agree based on the patient’s concerns and advice the surgeon.

If the surgeon sees a surgery that may benefit the patient, they may set up the surgery date. When the patient returns for their buccal fat pad removal plastic surgery, they should ensure they’re thoroughly hydrated. The plastic surgeon may advise that the patient drink a Gatorade the night prior and the morning of the procedure to ensure hydration and that they have the added benefits of the electrolytes. The patient should avoid eating snack foods like Doritos or chips and crackers because the particles in their mouth can pull the dissolvable stitches out.

Finally, surgery day comes, and the patient is looked after by the nursing staff or the plastic surgeon while the room is prepped. A patient typically gets a rundown of the buccal fat removal surgery procedure and policies and the risks associated with the procedure before the plastic surgery gets underway. The plastic surgeon will show you where the incisions will be and why. The incision will be made in the mouth of the patient in the gum on each side. The plastic surgeon does this to eliminate any skin scarring on the face. From the start of the surgery, the patient will either be put into “twilight” or be given local anesthesia. The surgical procedure will be uncomfortable to some patients but doable. The plastic surgeon will use the incision in the cheek to carefully separate the nerves and muscles that hold the cheek in place, working up to the temple. It is a crucial part of the process that the plastic surgeon must be meticulous to ensure no nerve damage is done to the patient. As the plastic surgeon separates the buccal fat pad from the other parts of the innards, they go on to either use a method of buccal fat reduction or use the method of the buccal fat pad removal in its entirety. Once the procedure is finished, the plastic surgeon will sew the incision closed with dissolvable sutures, then move on over to do the same procedure to the other cheek.

woman having buccal fat removal surgery performed on her face

Risks of Botched Results or Worse

Ultimately, you’ll need to understand that there’s some risk involved with the buccal fat removal or the buccal fat reduction surgical procedure. Just like with any other surgical procedure, especially where general anesthesia sedates the patient. With general anesthesia, the patient may need to be put under completely, which can result in coma or death. With local anesthesia, though, this is not so much the concern. But by a local numbing as opposed to general anesthesia, a patient can experience nerve death, wherein the nerves surrounding the injection site have been severely injured or died, leaving the patient a loss of feeling, numbness, or a tingling sensation in the location of injection. or the numbing not wearing off. And that’s just the potential risk of the types of anesthesia for every surgical procedure ever done.

Now, there are many and can be severe when it comes to the buccal fat removal procedure and its risks. Nerves and the muscles the plastic surgeon has to separate from the actual buccal fat pad are very vulnerable. Some facial nerves can suffer severe damage, and you can damage even the muscles in the patient’s face during buccal fat pad removal. Although that is scary all by itself, it doesn’t mean it will happen. Paying a very experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon to help you with all your facial rejuvenation procedures is the key. No one should ever use the services of an underground, potentially not certified even to feed a goldfish type of plastic surgeon. The risks of employing a plastic surgeon who’s not board-certified and experienced will automatically elevate your risk to 100 times higher.

Here is the low-down on the risks of buccal fat pad removal surgery. Although most surgeries are successful, some people’s surgery outcomes they’ve encountered asymmetry of the facial shape, excessive bleeding, deep vein thrombosis (DTV) or cardiac or pulmonary complications, bruising,   Excessive Swelling of the face, injury to salivary ducts as well as injury to facial nerves causing temporary facial weakness, persistent pain,  poor recovery, undesirable results of the surgery, the possibility of a revisional buccal fat removal surgery, and subpar results or minimal effect of the surgery.

A few more go along the lines of the infection potential, and a build-up of bodily fluids called a seroma. The board-certified plastic surgeon will typically account for the risk of infection post-procedure and will prescribe the patient antibiotics to take before and after the surgery or at least after the buccal fat removal surgery. The plastic surgeon may also prescribe the patient medication to mitigate some potentially hazardous side effects of facial plastic surgery to reconstruct the patient’s cheeks beforehand.

photo comparison of woman's face before and after bucaal fat removal surgery

Suppose this list makes you think twice about getting the buccal fat removal procedure. In that case, you can rest assured that as long as you find a well-experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the buccal fat pad removal of the buccal fat reduction procedure for you, these risks are slimmed down drastically. If you talk to the plastic surgeon about your worries or anxiety surrounding the risks involved, you’ll be put at ease to hear or see the success rate of that particular plastic surgeon. By having an open and honest conversation with the plastic surgeon, you’ll then be able to gain their trust and rapport with them. And believe that trust is vital to allowing any plastic surgery to be done on a patient successfully, let alone any facial plastic surgery.

What the Recovery Process Looks Like for Buccal Fat Removal

After the plastic surgeon finishes applying the dissolvable sutures to the inside of the cheeks, you’ll get some specific instructions to follow for the healing process. Patients may be approved to drive themselves to and from the buccal fat removal procedure. If the plastic surgeon only used local anesthesia for the procedure, the patient will likely be able to drive. Otherwise, general anesthesia is responsible for putting a patient in the twilight state of mind. It will require the surgery patient to bring a friend to drive them home afterward.

Once the patient gets home and settled in, they will abide by a liquid diet for the week following the procedure or until the sutures are dissolved. It will typically align with the follow-up visit to the plastic surgeon. During that one-week follow-up visit with the plastic surgeon, they will approve the next phase of the patient’s diet.

surgeon showing patient her face after surgery

The patient should take any medications as the directions state and take the total amount of any antibiotic regimen ordered by the surgeon. It will ensure a healthy surgery recovery and mitigate any instances of infection or excessive bleeding and bruising. It is imperative that the patient only takes the prescription medications as prescribed, especially any pain medication. The overuse can lead to devastating results like overdose or a habit the patient won’t ever see coming until it’s too late.

The buccal fat removal surgery’s aftermath will be mildly painful but not overly painful, so here are a few things to be on the lookout for excessive bleeding or injury to the surgery site, excessive swelling, bruising that seems excessive or is painful as this is a sign of deep vein thrombosis which can prove deadly if not treated immediately, pain that’s unbearable, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting black or bloody stool, or constipation.

If you’re a tobacco smoker, the plastic surgeon may require tobacco use cessation a few weeks before the buccal fat removal procedure for your safety and general health. The plastic surgeon will likely require that the patient not start smoking back up, if not indefinitely, at least for a few weeks after the buccal fat pad excision has healed on both cheeks.

Cheeks or No?

When deciding on the need or want for buccal fat removal surgery, remember, it’s your decision! Any plastic surgery is purely one’s decision to take away or add on to one’s body. While the decision may seem daunting, and you may worry about what the people around you may or not say about it, you have autonomy, and no one deserves to take that from you. You only live once, and a great board-certified surgeon will let you know if the surgery is the right move for you. It’s more important that you feel good in your skin and have the confidence and all the gumption it takes to live life out loud and proud. No matter who you are, know this; everyone deserves to feel incredible about the skin they’re in. 

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