Fat Transfer

What is buccal fat removal?

The goal of buccal fat removal is to thin the cheeks, specifically in the area of the cheek hollows. Although a face that is naturally soft and filled out is considered youthful, some people find that their face feels too full, even chubby.

A buccal fat removal removes the buccal fat pad, a naturally-occurring pad of fat in the cheek hollow area. The size of the buccal fat pad varies with each individual patient, and the buccal fat pad in each cheek may be different sizes. Buccal fat pad extraction surgery is typically not performed in people with thin, narrow faces as removal of the fat may cause the face to look more gaunt with age.

Buccal fat removal surgery is a highly individualized procedure. It can address concerns for patients who are worried about full or chubby cheeks. If you are considering this procedure, be sure to do it for yourself, not for someone else or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.

In general, you may be a good buccal fat removal candidate if:

  • You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
  • You have realistic expectations
  • You are a nonsmoker
  • You are bothered by the appearance of your chubby cheeks

If you're considering surgery, spend some time reviewing buccal fat removal surgery photos and learning about what to expect during recovery. Preparation ahead of time helps patients have reasonable expectations and a smoother recovery.


Case Study

In preparing for buccal fat removal surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

Buccal fat removal surgery is typically performed in a hospital, licensed ambulatory surgery setting or in an in-office procedure room. If your buccal fat removal is performed with general anesthesia or intravenous sedation, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.

buccal fat removal procedure includes the following steps:

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

A buccal fat removal surgery requires an incision on the inside of the mouth, on the inner portion of your cheek. Occasionally, the buccal fat pad may be removed during a facelift and not necessitate an incision inside the mouth.

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Sutures close the incisions inside your mouth. Typically, these sutures are absorbable, but each plastic surgeon performs the surgery differently. Be sure to avoid playing with the sutures with your tongue until cleared by your surgeon.

Step 4 – See the results

Your buccal fat removal surgery will result in a slimmer, more contoured cheek, specifically in the cheek hollow area.

 

Specialist

During your buccal fat removal consultation be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
  • Previous surgeries

Your plastic surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Examine your face
  • Take photographs
  • Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of buccal fat removal surgery and any risks or potential complications

The success and safety of your buccal fat removal surgery procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You'll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.

Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon questions. It's very important to understand all aspects of your buccal fat removal surgery. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your plastic surgeon that you can take with you to your consultation.

It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

Disclaimer

The decision to have buccal fat removal surgery is extremely personal. You'll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of buccal fat removal surgery are acceptable.

Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedures you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.

The possible risks of buccal fat removal surgery include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor healing of incisions
  • Hematoma
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
  • Numbness or other changes in sensation
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Injury to branches of the facial nerve, resulting in temporary or permanent facial muscle weakness
  • Injury to a salivary duct
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Asymmetry
  • Suboptimal aesthetic result and/or minimal changes
  • Possibility of revisional surgery
  • Persistent pain

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It's important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Procedure

2. At what age can a buccal fat extraction be performed?

Buccal fat removal can be done at almost any age. However, keep in mind that many people begin to lose facial fat in their 20s and 30s. If their fat reserves are removed before then, they may end up with a gaunt appearance — a face that looks too thin and possibly unhealthy.

3. What does a typical buccal fat extraction consultation entail?

During your buccal fat extraction consultation, your surgeon will discuss your aesthetic goals, review your options and explain what can be realistically achieved with buccal fat extraction. He or she will also discuss the risks and complications of the surgery, anesthesia choices, fees, and what to expect postoperatively. This consultation is when you can ask questions about the surgery and determine if the surgeon is a good choice for you. Do not hesitate to ask lots of questions.

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