Is Buccal Fat Removal the Answer to Your ‘Chubby Cheeks?’

A woman pinching her cheeks (model)

Chubby-cheeked infants get coos and comments such as, “Oh, isn’t she adorable.” That all changes when we grow up. Sculpted, angular cheekbones are universally considered attractive, and those chubby cheeks no longer seem so cute. Buccal fat removal, sometimes called cheek reduction surgery, is an option that slims chubby cheeks.

While buccal fat removal is a popular choice for slimming the face, other procedures may be good options, too. We’ll explore buccal fat removal and other facial contouring procedures in this blog post so you can weigh the benefits of each.

What Is Buccal Fat?

Buccal (pronounced “buckle”) fat pads are naturally occurring masses located in the lower part of the cheeks–between the masseter muscle (the major muscle that aids in chewing) and the cheek. This fat pad can be overly prominent in some individuals, contributing to a round facial appearance that may not align with their desired aesthetic. Cosmetic plastic surgery removes fat in this area to highlight the bone structure of your cheekbones and the hollowed-out areas between your cheeks and jawline.

How Is Buccal Fat Removal Performed?

My buccal fat removal patients are under a light general anesthetic for the surgery, which typically takes about an hour. I make a small incision inside the mouth, which means there won’t be visible scars. I cut out a small amount of fat from each side of the lower cheek using tiny surgical instruments. The goal is to create a contoured appearance without appearing unnatural.

Healing after the procedure usually takes about 2-3 weeks, but most patients return to work and normal activities within 3-5 days of the surgery. You’ll notice swelling, bruising, and numbness at the incision sites. Because of the swelling, you won’t see results immediately. It can take up to a month or more for residual swelling to fade and the full outcome to emerge.

Exploring Alternatives to Buccal Fat Removal

Even though buccal fat removal is an effective option for those seeking a more contoured face, you should consider alternatives that might be better suited for your situation.

Neck and Jaw Liposuction

Removing excess fat from the neck and jawline using liposuction creates a more defined chin and jawline and smoother neck contour. Combining buccal fat removal with neck liposuction is an option for some patients. Good neck, chin, and jaw liposuction candidates have skin that retains elasticity to “shrink-to-fit” the new contours. You can combine liposuction with a neck lift or facelift if you have sagging neck skin.

Chin Implants

Chin implants are excellent for individuals who want to improve their facial proportions. Enhancing the projection of the chin can improve the overall facial balance. This can make the cheeks appear less prominent, contributing to a more contoured look. I often combine chin implant surgery with neck liposuction to create enhanced results.

Jawline Slimming With BOTOX®

Some people have overdeveloped masseter muscles—the muscles used for chewing—that make the face look round or square-shaped. Injecting BOTOX directly into the masseter muscles serves the same purpose as injecting BOTOX into muscles to reduce wrinkling and fine lines: A few days after the injections, BOTOX relaxes the muscle and limits how much it can contract. Over time, the masseter muscle relaxes, restoring your jawline to a more V-line shape.

Facial Balancing With Dermal Fillers

The idea of using fillers to balance chubby cheeks might seem counterintuitive. After all, why would you add volume when the face already appears full? The key is in the strategic placement of the filler. When injected correctly, dermal filler can sculpt the apex or apple of the cheek, emphasizing the cheekbones. Similarly, we can also use dermal fillers to enhance the definition of the jawline or chin to counterbalance the fullness in the lower cheeks. This produces a more harmonious, slimmer facial appearance.

Which Choice Is Right for You?

As an experienced, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, I help patients understand why one procedure can better achieve desired results than alternatives. Having realistic expectations and discussing your goals openly during your consultation is important.

Some patients may have only recently heard of buccal fat removal surgery because it’s been trending on social media for the past couple of years. It’s essential to understand that—even though it’s a fairly straightforward procedure—it’s an elective surgery that includes potential risks and complications.

Start With a Consultation

Cosmetic procedures to create contoured cheekbones and well-defined jawlines can improve your confidence. Consulting with a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon will help you understand which option is best for you and aligns with your goals. You can discuss your options personally with me by requesting a consultation using the online form or by calling my practice at (407) 333-3040.

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