Buccal fat pads, located in the lower part of both cheeks, can occasionally be quite prominent. In some people, they contribute to overly rounded cheeks, commonly known as “chipmunk cheeks.” Sometimes, this is as a result of being overweight but often it can be related to genetic inheritance. They can make a person look chubby even though they may have a thin body.
Most people opt for buccal fat removal because they cannot reduce the size of their cheeks by simply losing weight. For these patients, surgical removal of the buccal fat pads can result in an improved cheek contour and a slimmer facial appearance.
Good Candidates For Buccal Fat Removal
- Should be age 25 years and older as the body continues to develop before this time
- Patients with full cheeks and high cheek bones have the highest rate of success
- Are healthy and have reached a stable weight
- Improved cheek definition and contour with less puffiness
- Facial slimming in patients with full faces
- The procedure is minimally invasive, leaves no scar on the skin, and has very little pain
How Buccal Fat Removal is Performed
Local anesthesia is typically used, but occasionally a general anesthetic is recommended.
A small incision is placed in the mouth on the inside of each cheek. The tissues are gently separated and approximately 3-4 cc of fat is removed from each cheek, depending on the patient. The incision is then closed with dissolvable sutures and a light head dressing is applied.
Before the Procedure
During your initial consultation, board certified plastic surgeon Jonathan Lee, MD, FRCSC will perform a thorough evaluation of your face. He will determine if you are a good candidate for buccal fat removal and make a recommendation tailored to your specific goals. Pre-treatment photos will be taken and any potential risks and complications will also be discussed.
After the Surgery
Patients may experience mild pain along the incision on the inside of the cheek. Dr. Lee will prescribe you a pain reliever. After several days, Tylenol is usually sufficient for any discomfort.
Swelling and bruising is normal and will usually resolve over several weeks. Cold compresses to the cheeks in addition to Arnica can be used to speed the process in the first week.
For the first few days following the operation, the patient should have their head elevated when sleeping by using extra pillows. This will further reduce swelling.
Dr. Jonathan Lee (MD, FRCSC) is an experienced, Canadian and New York fellowship-trained Plastic Surgeon based in Calgary. Well-established, he is board certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and specializes in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
The Long Term Results
A significant portion of the swelling will resolve within two weeks of the surgery but residual swelling can be present for up to four months.