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Buccal Fat Removal: Is It Worth It And Are You A Suitable Candidate?

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before and after photo of a woman who has just undergone buccal fat removal surgery

Buccal Fat Removal is quite a hot topic at the moment. So what is all the fuss about? Let’s get into it.

What Is Buccal Fat?

Buccal fat, also known as buccal fat pad, is a type of fat located in the cheeks. It is found on either side of the face, just below the cheekbones, and helps to give the face its shape and volume. Some people may have larger buccal fat pads than others, which can lead to a rounder or fuller appearance in the lower cheek area.

Why Some People Have More Buccal Fat Than Others

The size and prominence of the buccal fat pad varies from individual to individual. Genetics contribute in determining the face’s overall structure, including the amount of buccal fat present. Inherited tendencies towards a rounder or fuller face are often related to the size of your buccal fat pads.

Buccal fat is also somewhat independent of body weight fluctuations. However, significant weight changes can sometimes influence its prominence. 

Ageing might also play a role. As facial skin loses elasticity and volume shifts, the buccal fat pad may become more noticeable even if it hasn’t changed in size.

How Buccal Fat Removal Works

Recently, there has been a growing interest in the topic of buccal fat removal, which is a cosmetic procedure designed to reduce the size of the buccal fat pads. 

While some people may choose to undergo this procedure for aesthetic reasons, it is important to note that it is not suitable for everyone and should only be considered after a thorough consultation with a qualified and experienced Plastic Surgeon (always check for FRACS credentials).

One of the key benefits of buccal fat removal is that it can help to create a more defined and sculpted appearance in the cheeks and jawline. This can be particularly beneficial for people who are unhappy with a round or chubby face, and who are looking to achieve a more angular and chiselled look.

Benefit Of Buccal Fat Removal

Another advantage of this procedure is that it is relatively quick and straightforward, and can usually be completed in around an hour under local anaesthesia. Most people are able to return to work and other activities within a few days after the procedure, and the recovery period is generally quite short and straightforward.

Potential Risks And Complications

However, it is important to note that buccal fat removal is not without its risks and potential complications. These can include infection, bleeding, swelling, and asymmetry, and it is important to choose a qualified and experienced Plastic Surgeon who can minimise these risks and provide the best possible outcome.

In addition, it is also important to have realistic expectations about the results of buccal fat removal. 

While the procedure can certainly help to create a more defined and sculpted look in the cheeks and jawline, it is not a miracle cure and may not be suitable for everyone. 

Factors such as age, skin elasticity, and overall facial structure can all play a role in the outcome of the procedure, and it is important to discuss these with your surgeon before making a decision.

Who is a Good Candidate for Buccal Fat Removal?

before and after photo of a woman who has just undergone buccal fat removal surgery
  • Facial Structure: Candidates with round or excessively full cheeks, characterised by prominent buccal fat pads, are generally good candidates for this procedure. These individuals often desire a more defined and contoured facial appearance.
  • Age: Ideal candidates are typically in their 20s to 50s. This is because the buccal fat pads naturally reduce volume as a person ages. It is important to allow the face to fully develop before considering this procedure to ensure long-lasting and proportionate results.
  • Aesthetic Goals: Candidates seeking a slimmer, more angular facial appearance or a reduction in cheek fullness may find this procedure beneficial. Open and honest communication between the patient and the surgeon is essential to align realistic expectations and achieve desired outcomes.
  • Good Overall Health: Candidates should be physically healthy and free from any underlying medical conditions that may pose risks during or after the surgery. A comprehensive preoperative evaluation will be conducted to ensure the candidate’s suitability for the procedure.
  • Understanding of the Procedure: As with any other cosmetic procedure, buccal fat removal involves potential risks and complications. Ideal candidates must understand everything about the procedure and have realistic expectations regarding the results. 

Is Buccal Fat Removal Also Suitable For Men?

While buccal fat pad removal is often associated with female beauty trends, it’s not uncommon for men to also undergo this procedure. Men can also benefit from the contouring effect this procedure gives.

The suitability of buccal fat removal depends on a person’s individual facial anatomy and desired results. Excess buccal fat can create a rounded or full lower face in men, just as it can in women.

As men become increasingly interested in facial aesthetic procedures, buccal fat removal is gaining popularity among male patients who seek a more defined jawline and more prominent cheekbones.

What To Expect In A Buccal Fat Removal Surgery

Though buccal fat removal is relatively quick, understanding what happens during the process is crucial. Here’s a quick guide on what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

Before Surgery

  • Medication planning: Fill any prescriptions provided by your surgeon in advance and have them ready. Let them know of existing medications you’re taking.
  • Shopping trip: Pick up essentials like a small toothbrush, pain reliever, and over-the-counter mouthwash.
  • The night before: Avoid food and drinks past midnight. Take prescription medications, if any, with tiny sips of water.
  • Getting ready: Shower, but skip lotion, cosmetics, hair products, deodorant, and sunscreen. Remove piercings and jewellery. Wear comfy, loose clothing with button/zip closures.

During Surgery

Your surgeon will likely use local anaesthesia and sedation. This means you’ll be awake but relaxed and pain-free. However, the surgery can also be performed under general anaesthesia. Your surgeon will determine the most ideal option, given your background and preferences.

The surgeon will then create small, discreet incisions inside your mouth to minimise any visible scarring. Using specialised tools, they will carefully expose the buccal fat pad within your cheek.

Following the details discussed during the consultation, your surgeon will then remove a predetermined amount of fat to achieve your desired look. Finally, they close the incisions with dissolvable sutures for easy healing.

After Surgery

Anticipate some swelling and potential bruising in the days following your buccal fat removal. Focus on rest and gentle movements throughout the day. 

Sleep with your head elevated on 2-3 pillows for the first week or two. Make sure to maintain good oral health and hygiene by rinsing with diluted mouthwash several times a day. But, you’ll want to avoid brushing your teeth for the first 48 hours post-surgery.

Your surgeon may also ask you to avoid taking NSAIDs as these medications may increase the risk of bleeding. Try to relax and do not aggravate the incision site by opening your mouth wider than an inch. 

Finally, avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, or bending for the first week. Resume light exercise after 2-3 weeks (or depending on your surgeon’s instructions), understanding that swelling might temporarily increase with activity.

Buccal Fat Is Not Inherently “Bad”, It Actually Has Uses

While there’s a growing trend in social media on removal of buccal fat for aesthetic purposes, it’s important to remember that it has its own functional roles in the body.

  • Support for infants: In infants and young children, the buccal fat pad is proportionally larger because it needs to support the suckling action which is crucial for nourishment.
  • Gliding function: Throughout life, the buccal fat pad assists in the gliding motion of various facial muscles required for chewing, swallowing, and showing facial expressions.
  • Cushioning: The buccal fat pad also protects individuals with sensitive facial structures, which help absorb impact from external sources.

Buccal fat serves structural and functional purposes within the face. The decision to remove it for aesthetic reasons needs careful consideration on an individual basis. 

Consult with a Certified Plastic Surgeon

Overall, buccal fat is an important and often overlooked aspect of facial anatomy. While buccal fat removal may be a viable option for some people looking to achieve a more defined and sculpted appearance, it is important to approach the procedure with caution and to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon who can provide the best possible outcome. 

With the right approach and a thorough understanding of the risks and benefits involved, buccal fat removal can be an effective tool for achieving the look you desire, given that you meet the general criteria for suitability.

For more information on buccal fat removal, consult with Artiste Plastic Surgery’s Dr Jack Zoumaras, a Trained Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Sydney. His specialisations include face, eyelids, nose, & breast procedures.

Book your consultation with Dr Jack Zoumaras.

Disclaimer: At Artiste Plastic Surgery, our Plastic Surgeons led by Dr Jack Zoumaras have been trained to the highest possible degree. All plastic surgery has risks and it is always advised to get a second opinion. Risks are very real and we cannot guarantee any result. Recovery varies between 1-4 weeks. Results are illustrated as a guide only. All risks are managed and any need for revision surgery or complications (1-5%) can be managed by our specialist plastic surgeons. More information on our website. 

Any statements on how you will feel is based on Level V Evidence:

Level V:  How you will feel after plastic surgery varies between individuals, depending on psychological and physical factors. Our internal research is based on how patients in our practice feel after surgery.

The blogs are not a substitute for a medical consultation and do not form as part of the doctor to patient relationship.


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