Buccal Fat Removal: The trending facial cosmetic surgery that you didn’t know existed.
When you think of cosmetic surgery, what first comes to mind? A Rhinoplasty? Breast Implants? Liposuction? The Lip Lift? These are all common and popular cosmetic surgeries that have had their place in the sun, or in other terms, what has been “#Trending”. Thanks to Instagram, the newest surgical cosmetic procedure on everybody’s lips (or cheeks) is Buccal Fat Removal; a low-downtime day surgery that is known to help slim the face, highlight cheekbones, and assist in creating that desired “heart-shaped” face.
But what exactly is Buccal Fat and what does removing it look like? While we describe this as “low-downtime” and a “day surgery”, it is still a complex procedure in which not everybody may be an ideal candidate. As with all surgeries, it is important to understand the procedure as much as possible, so you can make an informed decision and one you will be happy with five/ten/twenty years down the road. So Buccal-up, and let’s take you through the ABC’s of Buccal Fat Removal: cosmetic surgery’s newest trend.
The ABC’s of Buccal Fat
What is Buccal Fat?
Of course one of the most common questions, because before hearing about the surgery, or even reading this, you may not have ever even heard of “Buccal Fat”? Well, Buccal Fat refers to the Buccal Fat Pad, which is a rounded mass of fat that is located in the middle of your cheek, between facial muscles, in the hollow area beneath your cheekbone. If you suck in your cheeks and make a “duck pout” then you have just found your Buccal Fat Pads!
What does it look like?
How Buccal Fat appears as a part of your face depends on (genetically) how large these fat pads are, but essentially they fill out your cheeks which can sometimes present themselves as “chubby” or “baby” cheeks that may continue into adulthood. This can be a great area of distress for people, as it can make quite fit or petite people look overweight, or can give older adults a more infantile appearance.
What does it do?
The exact function of Buccal Fat hasn’t been definitively determined, but there are a few strong leading theories, the primary one being in relation to chewing and suckling, especially in infants. This theory derives some support from the loss of volume over time (from infancy to adulthood), which would be most directly involved in chewing and sucking.
Another proposed function of Buccal Fat is that it acts as gliding pads that facilitate the action of chewing. The Buccal Fat Pad may also function as a cushion to protect sensitive facial muscles from injury due to muscle action or exterior force.
When does Buccal Fat go away?
Buccal Fat Pads store the baby fat in the face, and this usually starts to diminish at the onset of puberty. For some, Buccal Fat may not greatly reduce in volume and can persist well into adulthood, which can create the appearance of a “baby face”.
The causes of persistent buccal fat can be narrowed down to two factors, and this is when the question of “who is an ideal candidate” comes into play. The first factor is weight, where those who have a higher body mass will result in their face having a greater volume due to larger fat stores in the face. The second is the impossible to avoid factor of good old genetics, which is the explanation that fits most people with buccal fat pads that stubbornly remain regardless of weight, diet, and exercise. Ideal candidates for Buccal Fat Removal tend to fit into the second factor.
Am I a Buccal Fat Removal Candidate?
So, you’re now probably sitting there, asking yourself “am I a candidate for Buccal Fat Removal?” Well, there is a fun little activity you can do to see how you would look without Buccal Fat.
This activity may seem like a fun novelty, but determining the ideal candidate for Buccal Fat Removal is almost as simple as that, with just a few catches; you want to be sure that the reason for your voluminous Buccal Fat Pads are due to genetics, and not just due to weight. Looking at your parents, or older siblings, do they also have large Buccal Fat Pads that haven’t reduced much as they aged?
Does the volume in your cheeks and face change when you gain or lose weight?
These are important things to be honest about, because by removing your Buccal Fat Pads prematurely, if you do lose weight or your face volume naturally diminishes with age, this can result in your face looking more hollow or gaunt.
While Buccal Fat isn’t the only part of your face that adds volume, it is important to discuss these factors with your surgeon to ensure that Buccal Fat removal will provide the results you are looking for.
How is Buccal Fat Removal done?
So now that we know all about what Buccal Fat is, it’s now time for the “Removal” part of this blog. Buccal Fat Removal is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, and is done under local anesthetic. At 8 West Clinic, our Facial Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Thomas Buonassisi will place a small incision on the inside of the cheek just above the upper molars. The tissues of the cheeks are gently separated to expose the Buccal Fat Pads. He then will expertly decrease the fullness of the cheek by removing a portion of fat in the precise amount that best suits your individual goals. Dr. Buonassisi will then close the incision with dissolvable stitches and repeat the process for the other cheek.
The beauty of this surgery, which you may have already discovered, is that there is no noticeable scar to try and disguise as the procedure is done from inside the mouth. Buccal Fat Removal is also permanent; once the fat is removed from the cheeks then it doesn’t reaccumulate. Of course, you can revisit the area if you wish to have additional fat removed, depending on what was taken out the first time and your desired results.
How Buccal Fat Removal surgery itself feels like is often compared to a dental procedure – and before you cancel your consultation because you hate going to the dentist – this is purely because you will spend the surgery in a reclined position with your mouth open (don’t worry, we won’t touch those pearly whites).
Buccal Fat Removal Post-Surgery
You’ve had your pre-consult, you’ve been approved as a candidate, and you’ve had your surgery – so what next? What is the downtime of Buccal Fat Removal? When do you see results?
As a minimally invasive procedure, the downtime and recovery is very little, and while the visible results after Buccal Fat Removal are immediate, patients should expect a normal amount of post-operative swelling for 7 to 10 days after surgery.
If you have a job that doesn’t require you to constantly talk, you can typically resume your usual activities the day after the surgery. However, if you’re a stand-up comic or motivational speaker, you may wish to take a few days before returning to work or social activities to allow most of the swelling to subside.
Your full Buccal Fat Removal results are usually seen after 2-3 months post-surgery as your skin settles into its newly-hollowed home; the area in which the buccal fat once was.
Like any cosmetic surgery or beauty trend, it is hard to resist the call to jump on board, especially with procedures that are minimally invasive. When it comes to Buccal Fat Removal, it is really important to not only do your research, but also be honest about your candidacy and if your desired results are realistic. Buccal Fat Removal certainly does create that instant slimming of the face, and highlighting the cheekbones – but once the fat is gone, it’s gone for good. If there is a risk of your face looking hollow or gaunt in the long-run, based on the reasons we have highlighted, it’s worth considering other options to achieve similar results; such as cheek or chin filler.
Buccal Fat Removal is not only an Instagram trend, but a life-changing surgery for people who experience genetically fixed fullness in the cheek. If you would like to speak with one of our Patient Care Manager’s to discuss if you are a candidate for Buccal Fat Removal, feel free to call us (604 733 1669) for a pre-consultation, or complete this form. Dozens of patients, including one of our very own Patient Care Manager’s have had satisfactory results with Dr. Buonassisi, leaving them feeling more confident and settled in their own self and in their cheeks.