The basics of buccal fat removal

The basics of buccal fat removal

If you follow celebrity beauty trends or are a social media user, you have probably heard the words ‘buccal fat removal.’ What is this, and why is it popular?

“Buccal fat removal involves the removal of fat from the cheek pad, which gives fullness to the face in the mid to inner part of the cheek,” explains Dr. Jolene Andryk, a board certified in otolaryngology, head, and neck surgery and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Aurora Health Care.

The procedure is typically done at a surgeon’s office, where a small incision is made inside the mouth over the location of the cheek pad, often at the height of the corner of your mouth. Fat is removed and the incision is then closed with a few sutures. Once those are removed and after the initial swelling goes down, the volume loss shrinks, which results in a less full face.

“It’s gaining popularity because younger people desire a more sculpted, defined and less full face,” says Dr. Andryk.

If you’re interested in potentially getting buccal fat removal, please know that some people are better candidates than others. Dr. Andryk shared that a good candidate has moderate fullness of the face in their youth and is seeking more definition. In older women seeking a facelift, the buccal pad droops and adds a jowl, so direct removal may be beneficial if there is excess fullness in the pad.

With any procedure, there are side effects involved, including swelling, mild pain and slight risk of infection, explains Dr. Andryk. Removal of too much fat can also make the face look gaunt and aged with time.

“My strongest guidance is to see if there is really excess fat or pronounced fullness in the area,” Dr. Andryk advises. “A sculpted, defined face now may look more aged if it becomes too thin and hollow. Talking with your doctor to see if you are a candidate and carefully reviewing the short- and long-term risks of the procedure are the two most important factors to consider before proceeding.”

Also, keep in mind that this trend has become popular due to social media and may be a fleeting trend.

“Everyone’s face is so unique, and the contours, shape and fullness give each of us our own characteristics,” Dr. Andryk concludes.

The definition of beauty evolves, and trends certainly come and go.

“While this has been a known procedure for many years, it may be one that only stays popular for a brief time,” Dr. Andryk states. “The long-term pros and cons of buccal fat removal with facial aging are not well known, so it may take a while to see if the procedure creates more harm than good.”

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About the Author

Anna Schapiro
Anna Schapiro

Anna Schapiro is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a background in public relations and communications and studied journalism at Northwestern University. When she’s not working on internal communications for the organization, she enjoys cooking, reading and living in Chicago.