What to Know About Buccal Fat Removal

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on May 09, 2023
3 min read

While some people may find their round facial structure to be full and youthful, others may desire to have more defined cheeks and jawline. If you identify more with the second group of people, then you may be interested in finding out more about buccal fat removal.

Buccal fat — more specifically, the buccal fat pad — is the segment of normal fat found in your lower cheeks. It is part of a system of fat that reaches from your temples beneath your jawline.

Buccal fat mainly helps you with chewing, and its amount is consistent from one person to another, regardless of the gender. This remains true over the course of your life, despite changes in body weight or figure.

So, you may find yourself frustrated when you work so hard to shape your body a certain way, only for your facial structure to remain unchanged.

Buccal fat removal is a form of plastic surgery. It can simply be thought of as "cheek reduction surgery," used for exaggerating your facial shape and contour.

This procedure may be done alongside other similar facial procedures, like liposuction or facelift.

When prepping you for this surgery, your surgeon will apply a local anesthetic — the kind you get at the dentist's office. The surgeon will make a small incision from the inside of your cheek, near your upper molars, and delicately remove your buccal fat pads.

The incision will then be sewn shut with stitches, and you'll be sent home with medicines and mouthwash to prevent oral infection and with instructions on how to care for your face during recovery.  

After surgery, you may experience swelling and discoloration on the face. These are normal and will fade in a couple of weeks or so.

The actual results of the surgery may take a few months to show, but with time, you’ll notice that you have developed more slender, well-defined cheeks. 

During recovery, it is important to follow the surgeon's instructions with care. These may include:

  • Tending to the incision site
  • Applying or taking medicine or mouthwash to facilitate healing and prevent infection.
  • Going for follow-up

The most important thing to watch out for is getting too much of your buccal fat taken out — especially if you are very young. This is because as you grow older, your buccal fat pad naturally diminishes and the shape of your face begins to change.

If too much buccal fat is removed, you could end up with “saggy” or “deflated” cheeks decades from now. For this reason, it is best to approach your surgery conservatively.  

Remember that you can always remove more buccal fat later on if you desire, but you cannot replace what you've removed.

A study reported on the more serious potential complications, including the following:

  • abnormal degree of bleeding
  • facial asymmetry
  • trismus (lockjaw)
  • facial nerve damage

That said, this study also found the chance of these complications to be low, without any severe damage.  

Making the decision to undergo buccal fat removal is highly personal. If you grapple with insecurities about the shape of their face and cheeks, this surgery will give you a slimmer, more angular face shape.

The decision to undergo this surgery should be made only after serious deliberation — by you for you and not for somebody else or for adhering to some abstract standard of beauty.

Before deciding on getting this procedure done, make sure of the following:

  • You’re in a healthy shape, physically and mentally
  • You don’t smoke
  • Your expectations from the surgery are realistic

A practical way you can decide whether to undergo buccal fat removal or not is to spend some time looking at before and after photos of patients who have had the procedure done. These can be found via a simple search on the internet.

All in all, buccal fat removal can be regarded as an easy and efficient procedure that can be performed alone or alongside other facial procedures with little additional risk. 

Even if you decide to get the surgery done after all the considerations, you must first consult with your family doctor or a licensed plastic surgeon in your area. These professionals can address any questions and concerns you may have about buccal fat removal.