While cherub cheeks may have been adorable as a child, many people find them less attractive as they get older. In fact, many adults dealing with excess facial fat feel very self-conscious about their appearance. Chipmunk cheeks—as they are humorously referred to—occur when the pads of fat in the lower part of the cheek augment the face, almost as if a person has a mouth full of nuts (hence the nickname). Most cases are not that extreme, but even the slightest protrusion of cheek fat can cause concern. For those looking for a more defined, chiseled face, Buccal Fat Removal may be the answer.
Most people have a layer of fat in their cheeks that naturally reduces with age, but for those who are overweight or have a genetic predisposition to chubby cheeks, Buccal Fat Removal, or cheek reduction surgery, is a great way to get rid of unwanted facial fat. Buccal, pronounced like buckle, removal reduces the size of cheeks, slimming and contouring the face. This relatively quick and simple surgery can enhance a person’s appearance and boost their self-esteem.
Buccal Fat Removal is generally done as an out-patient procedure under local anesthesia and lasts anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes. A plastic surgeon will create an incision about two centimeters long between the cheek and gums, starting halfway above the upper molars toward the back of the mouth. Once the incision is made, the surgeon will locate the buccinator, the main cheek muscle, and apply external pressure. This action causes the buccal fat to protrude through the incision so it can be teased out with forceps or surgical tweezers.
Buccal Fat Removal can be performed with other procedures like mini facelifts and liposuction, but these are only necessary if there is an excessive amount of fat that cannot be removed with cheek reduction surgery alone.
After undergoing Buccal Fat Removal, patients will notice a difference in the overall look of their face. It will appear more defined and slim, accenting the cheekbones and chin. The removal of cheek fat often makes people look more mature and boosts confidence. Also, the technique of removing fat through the mouth means there will be no unsightly scars to worry about.
While Buccal Fat Removal is an advanced and safe procedure, there are still some possible risks associated with the surgery. It is important for people to be aware of any side effects that may occur before they decide to get plastic surgery.
The first thing prospective patients are told to consider is their genetic makeup. Most cheek fat will naturally thin out as a person gets older, which usually occurs after the age of 25. It is possible for a person who receives Buccal Fat Removal to experience natural fat thinning, which can result in a more sunken and gaunt appearance. While it’s impossible to know exactly how your face will look when you get older, your parents are often a good indication. If chubby cheeks run in the family, this surgery may be right for you.
Other potential side effects of Buccal Fat Removal are infection, swelling, bruising, numbness or loss of sensation around the incision line. Usually these symptoms are temporary and subside after a couple days. Immediately following surgery, patients’ mouths will feel tight and tender, and they may experience some mild pain or discomfort. Again, these are short lived and clear up quickly.
Some more serious cheek reduction side effects include puckering of the skin on the cheek, excess scar tissue, lumps or asymmetry. Any dissatisfaction with Buccal Fat Removal usually comes with fat being unevenly taken out from the cheeks, therefore causing one to be larger than the other. This can be fixed, but it might require other procedures to be performed.
Buccal Fat Removal has a short recovery time. Patients are encouraged to stay home from work for at least a week, and avoid any physical excursion for about three weeks. Patients will have difficulty chewing since the incisions are on the inside of the mouth, and they should avoid acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes. It’s important for patients to avoid touching stitches with their tongue, because this can cause irritation and prolong the healing process. Some surgeons will tell patients to use mouthwash multiple times a day to keep incisions clean. Stitches are usually removed ten days after surgery, and patients can return to their normal schedules after a week. Full results of the surgery will be seen in about four months.
The cost of Buccal Fat Removal will vary depending on the plastic surgeon, geographic location and any extra procedures that may need to be done. On average, Buccal Fat Removal costs anywhere between $1500 and $5000. The price will fluctuate based on where people choose to get the surgery, and since metropolitan areas tend to be more expensive, it’s good to look outside the city limits to the surrounding suburbs. Cost also depends on the plastic surgeon, their overall experience and standard fees. There are a number of qualified plastic surgeons who perform Buccal Fat Removal, and they usually offer patient financing to help pay for the treatment.
If your family has a history of excessive facial fat, or you are fighting stubborn chipmunk cheeks due to being overweight, then you may be a good candidate for Buccal Fat Removal. It can significantly decrease the amount of fat in the lower cheeks and increase your overall appearance and level of confidence. However, if you are planning to get plastic surgery, it’s important to meet with a certified surgeon to discuss your aesthetic goals and past medical history. A consultation with a plastic surgeon will provide you with an accurate assessment of your cosmetic potential, and determine if Buccal Fat Removal is the right course of treatment.