What is buccal fat removal?
When we are young, ample, round cheeks are perceived as a marker of good health and many consider the rounded face to be a desirable feature. With age, some may prefer a less rounded face. This is where buccal fat removal or cheek fat removal may be able to help address your concerns. Buccal fat extraction, bichectomy, buccal fat excision, and buccal fat removal involve carefully removing defined amounts of fat tissue from the buccal fat pads in the cheeks. The fat tissue is responsible for the rounded appearance of the cheeks. For some people, this results in prominent cheeks that may be out of balance with the rest of their facial features giving rise to unpleasant nicknames such as ‘chipmunk cheeks’ or ‘hamster cheeks’. If excessively rounded cheeks troubles you, with an associated loss of self-esteem, buccal fat removal may be a solution to help balance your facial features and restore your confidence.
What is included in my treatment package?
- As many preoperative consultations with your surgeon as you like to make sure the procedure is right for you
- Treatment at a specialist day surgery facility recently rated ‘Good’ by the CQC
- Enhanced same-day discharge with the added benefits of recovering in your own home
- 24/7 clinical support from your surgeon for the first 48 hours and our expert postoperative support team
- Your very own dedicated patient coordinator
- In-depth preoperative medical assessment to make sure you are fully fit for the rhinoplasty procedure
- Exceptionally high standards of postoperative care described as ‘outstanding’ by the CQC with regular telephone and face-to-face checks by our expert postoperative support team
RealSelf Top Doctors
RealSelf top doctor status is awarded to less than 10% of the RealSelf doctor community. This status is earned by achieving consistently high patient satisfaction (from RealSelf reviews), getting excellent feedback on expert answers to patient questions, and after investing significant time in Q&A and other doctor activity. RealSelf top doctors are rated among the very best surgeons in the UK.
Buccal fat removal surgeons
What is buccal fat?
The buccal fat pad is located in each cheek beneath the cheekbones and is a normally occurring pad of fat. The buccal fat pad functions to provide a protective cushioning effect and also to enhance the function of the muscles responsible for chewing food in the lower aspect of the cheeks. Although we all have buccal fat pads, the amount of buccal fat differs between individuals with some people having much more pronounced pads than others. These patients will have more volume in the lower part of the cheeks. The presence of prominent buccal fat pads can be genetic with many slim people having quite large buccal fat pads. If you are keen to have slimmer cheek contour with the enhancement of cheek definition then you may be an ideal candidate for buccal fat pad removal.
Buccal fat removal is a minimally invasive surgical procedure where the buccal fat pad is carefully removed either partially or completely which gives rise to permanent results which may be noticed straight away. With the removal of significant collections of fat from the lower face, it is possible to achieve a more slender and defined lower facial shape with particular emphasis on the jawline. An additional enhancement is possible when combined with liposuction of the submental region and jawline. It is important to bear in mind that the buccal fat removal procedure may lead to the increased prominence of nasolabial or nose to mouth lines and also lines when smiling. The buccal fat pad helps to smoothen out these areas of the face. Removing too much fat may lead to a wasted or gaunt appearance which is exacerbated by the ageing process. The removal of the supporting collagen and fat framework may explain why this could happen. This is why it is very important to have the procedure performed by a highly skilled and experienced consultant plastic surgeon who is able to assess you in detail and provide an honest opinion of what can be achieved with the buccal fat reduction procedure.
Expected results after buccal fat pad removal:
- A contoured and more defined lower face
- More prominent cheekbones which appear higher
- More sculpted look especially when combined with liposuction of the lower face
Buccal fat reduction is the process of surgically removing the fat pads within the cheek. This fat sits on either side of the cheek and under the cheekbones. This fat can remain even after a person loses weight, and is often perceived as giving someone a child-like appearance. As such, a buccal fat reduction is often an appealing choice.
Am I suitable?
All patients should be in good health and have realistic expectations about what can be achieved with buccal fat removal surgery.
- We do not treat patients below the age of 18 years of age.
- Healing is better if patients refrain from or quit smoking.
The buccal fat removal procedure is performed for cosmetic and functional purposes, to help improve one’s image and self-esteem and relieve pain and discomfort.
- The ideal candidate for the procedure are people in their mid-20s to 40s who wish to get rid of their ‘chipmunk cheek’
- Also for those who wish to achieve a more delicate, chiselled appearance
Prior to the surgery, you will have a consultation with a surgeon. You will be able to discuss your reasons for wanting this procedure, your wants, needs and desired outcomes, as well as your full medical history to establish whether or not you are an appropriate candidate.
Buccal fat removal is not suitable for everyone and patients who may not be suitable for surgery include:
- People with very thin faces. If you have a naturally narrow face then buccal fat removal may exacerbate the appearance of sunken cheeks which also occur during the natural ageing process.
- Patients who suffer from progressive hemifacial atrophy. This is a rare condition which results in half of the face appearing shrunken and thin with a reduction of the buccal fat pad.
- The natural ageing process results in the loss of soft tissue volume. Removal of the buccal fat pad exacerbates the appearance of jowls and sunken cheeks which may result in a person appearing much older than they actually are. Patients who are over the age of 45 may not be suitable for buccal fat removal.
How can you remove buccal fat?
Buccal fat removal is also known as cheek contouring or cheek reduction surgery. The procedure is designed to make the face look slimmer and enhance cheek contour. Buccal fat pad removal gives permanent results and is a highly effective procedure for getting rid of chubby cheeks. Buccal fat reduction can also be combined with other facial cosmetic surgery procedures such as a facelift or rhinoplasty.
Buccal fat removal can be safely and effectively performed under local anaesthesia so you will be relaxed and comfortable throughout, The procedure takes about an hour for completion.
The surgeon makes a small (2-4 cm) cut between the inner cheek and the gum near the second molar from the back. The outer cheek is then pressed on to enable an adequate amount of buccal fat to protrude through the incision, which is teased out with surgical forceps. Depending on the desired results the surgeon may remove the entire buccal fat pad or just a portion of it. When the buccal fat pads are removed, they appear as small globules of fat. The incision is then carefully closed with dissolvable sutures.
Buccal fat pad removal can also be performed simultaneously with other facial plastic surgery procedures including submental liposuction, rhinoplasty or dimple creation. The procedure is delicate in nature and only a surgeon with significant experience of performing the procedure should be chosen to ensure a careful removal of the buccal fat pad and the final result is one that is natural and in harmony with the patient’s face.
What is the difference between full and partial removal of the buccal fat pad?
During the procedure, the amount of tissue to be removed will vary depending on what the patient would like to achieve. Partial removal of the buccal fat pad will result in residual fat remaining in the lower cheek area. For those who have a partial removal, if they gain weight in future, the results of the surgery will be affected by the potential recurrence of the fat pad prominence. A partial buccal fat pad removal is ideal for older patients who want an appearance of high cheekbones but without the risk of looking gaunt after the procedure. For younger patients with more volume in the lower face. it may be a better option to opt for the total removal of the buccal fat pad to attain a more dramatic result.
Are the results of buccal fat removal permanent?
Yes. The results of buccal fat removal are permanent providing the patient does gain a large amount of weight. The best candidates for buccal fat surgery are those with a stable healthy weight and who are able to maintain their weight over time.
Can liposuction be used to remove the buccal fat pad?
Liposuction cannot be used to remove buccal fat even with the micro liposuction technique. This is because there are many important structures deep in the face that could be injured by a liposuction cannula. The consistency of buccal fat is also different from regular fat in the chin and neck area.
It is possible to combine buccal fat removal with neck liposuction to achieve more definition of the jawline and submental area (area beneath the chin).
Preparation for buccal fat removal
When you have decided to proceed with a consultation for buccal fat removal, the first step is to have a consultation with one of our expert plastic surgeons to assess your suitability for the buccal fat removal procedure. At your consultation, your surgeon will examine you thoroughly and may recommend a combination procedure with submental liposuction.
Before the buccal fat removal procedure
- Stop use of tobacco as smoking increases the risk of wound healing complications
- Have a preoperative consultation to go over the details of the procedure with your surgeon
- Avoid any medicines which could increase the risk of bleeding such as aspirin and NSAIDs
- Use paracetamol for pain relief if required
- Collect your prescription for postoperative antibiotics
- Start taking Arnica tablets 2 days before the procedure
- If you are having surgery under GA, you will be required to fast for 6 hours for food and 2 hours for clear liquids beforehand
- Set up your home recovery area with comfortable bedding and pillows
- Avoid the use of lotions or scented perfumes before the procedure
- Use mouthwash before the procedure
- Wear comfortable clothing on the day of the procedure
- Avoid wearing make-up and remove all face and body piercings
Recovery after buccal fat removal
After the procedure, it is common to experience a mild discomfort and associated swelling of the face but this will rapidly settle within 2 weeks. The appearance of the cheeks will start to look thinner and have more definition once the swelling has settled and there will be no visible scarring as the incisions are made inside the mouth. Final results should start to appear after about 4 weeks to 12 weeks and will continue to improve with time as the swelling fully settles. The incisions inside the mouth require about 7-10 days to fully heal and it is important during this time to eat a soft diet in the first few days after surgery. Ice packs and simple painkillers like paracetamol are recommended for the first 3 days after buccal fat removal.
The surgeon uses non-absorbable sutures as standard and there is no requirement to have the sutures removed at your postoperative appointment. The surgeon recommends that you sleep on your back for the first 3 nights to help recovery. It is important to avoid all strenuous activities including the gym for at least 1 week after the procedure. Patients can return to their normal activities after 2 weeks.
What can I eat following buccal fat removal?
Our surgeons recommend that foods with a granular consistency are avoided after buccal fat surgery as the two small incisions within the mouth may allow foods with finer consistency to get stuck in them. You should focus on soft foods like mashed potatoes or fully blended smoothies which should not affect the incision sites.
One of the significant benefits of having buccal fat removal is that it does not result in any visible scarring as all surgical incisions are made inside the mouth. The incisions are small in length heal very well.
Risks of buccal fat surgery
Although the procedure is considered to be very safe, there are several recognised complications of buccal fat surgery including but not limited to:
- Injury to saliva glands
- Facial nerve injury
If you have been thinking about having buccal fat removal at Centre for Surgery, we would recommend having a personal consultation with an expert surgeon to gain a complete understanding of what the procedure involves and what to expect from buccal fat removal surgery to help achieve the best possible results.
How much does buccal fat removal cost?
There are several factors which will determine the overall cost of the buccal fat reduction procedure and the final quotation will be given after your face-to-face consultation with your specialist plastic surgeon.
- Buccal fat removal alone or combined with submental liposuction
- Local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic
- Primary or revision procedure
Why not call 0207 993 4849 and speak to one of our expert patient coordinators who may be able to give you a rough costing prior to having a consultation for a buccal fat removal procedure?
Always remember that price should never be the determining factor when it comes to choosing your provider. We feel that safety and quality of service should be your number one priority and instil in you the confidence that our team will look after you before, during and after your procedure to the best of their ability.
Are you interested in having buccal fat removal? Make sure to have a look at our finance options if you need assistance.
Where can I get buccal fat removal in London?
Centre for Surgery is the leading cosmetic surgery clinic located in the heart of London. Our state-of-the-art surgical facility is located on Baker Street in Marylebone.
We are home to some of the leading consultant plastic surgeons in the UK with expertise in facial cosmetic surgery. Our practice philosophy is focused on achieving outstanding outcomes and providing the highest levels of service. We are considered the top choice for cosmetic surgery treatments in the UK with many patients travelling from overseas to receive excellent medical care from our consultant specialists.
What is buccal fat?The buccal fat pad is a localised collection of fat which is located in the middle part of the cheek in between the facial muscles just beneath the cheekbone. It is normal for people to have buccal fat pads
and they are found in everyone.
The size of the buccal fat pad difference in size between people and can affect the overall shape of the face.
People with large buccal fat pads may have a rounded or fuller appearance. Patients who have smaller buccal fat pads will generally have a face that can be considered V-shaped.
The buccal fat pad is thought to function as an aid for babies to breast or bottlefeed and improve the efficiency of chewing. They also act as a protective cushion for the underlying facial musculature. The buccal fat pad is not considered to be an essential anatomical structure and can be surgically removed without any detriment to overall facial function.
Can I have buccal fat removal?Buccal fat removal is suitable for those generally in their 20s-40s who are wishing to remove fat within the cheek in order to obtain a more chiselled, defined appearance.
You will need to be in good health.
This is only available to those who are 18 years or older.
How is buccal fat removal surgery performed?The surgeon makes a small (2-4 cm) cut between the inner cheek and the gum near the second molar from the back. This is where the buccal fat is teased out with surgical forceps. The incision is then stitched up with soluble sutures.
What anaesthetic is used for buccal fat pad removal?Buccal fat removal is performed under a local anaesthetic. This means you will be awake for the procedure but will be unable to feel any pain in the treatment area.
How long does buccal fat surgery take to carry out?The procedure takes approximately one hour to undertake.
What are the risks of buccal fat removal?Some swelling and bruising are to be expected for a few days following the surgery and pain medication can be taken. Some have noticed a loss of sensation around the area of the incision, however, this is very rare. Other potential risks include a gaunt appearance or asymmetry but again is rare.
What does buccal fat removal recovery involve?Expect some soreness for a few days following your surgery and there will be bruising inside the mouth. You may be restricted to eat certain foods due to the incision being inside of the mouth.
You may wish to sleep with multiple pillows in order to keep your head elevated; this will help to minimise any swelling.
Does buccal fat pad removal result in scars?No, as the incision is not made on the outer cheek. It is made inside the mouth so there will be no visible scarring after buccal fat pad removal.
Can I view before and after photos of buccal fat removal?At your consultation, your surgeon may be able to show you a selection of before and after photos of similar patients who have provided consent and have undergone the procedure.
Being a procedure on the face, virtually all patients prefer not to have their photos published online for privacy reasons.
Why choose Centre for Surgery for buccal fat removal?- Over 15 years of experience with buccal fat removal
We regularly receive patients from overseas at our facial plastic surgery specialist centre
- Our surgeons are UK-trained NHS consultant plastic surgeons who live and work in the UK. Complications can and do occur and our surgeons are readily available to manage any issues if and when they arise.
- We own and manage our own surgical facilities. Properly performed buccal fat removal takes time and should not be rushed.
What To Expect
The consultation for cheek fat removal
We always recommend a face-to-face consultation with one of our expert plastic surgeons as the first step in your journey towards a slimmer and more contoured face. When you meet with one of our surgeons, your surgeon will take time to listen carefully to what you hope to achieve and give you an expert opinion on what can and cannot be achieved after performing a thorough physical examination.
Your surgeon will also take a number of measurements as part of a detailed facial analysis. Finally, high-resolution photographs are taken in a number of views. Your surgeon will also discuss with you the potential risks and complications of buccal fat removal surgery and what to expect in the postoperative phase during your healing and recovery. It is important to know what medicines you taking as some medicines can interfere with blood clotting and may need to be stopped. Any history of medical conditions or previous surgery will also be recorded and all the compiled information is used to make a decision on your medical fitness for the buccal fat reduction procedure. After a recommended two-week "cool off" period and provided you are appropriate for the procedure, you can then make an informed decision on whether you would like to proceed with the cheek fat removal procedure. If you are unsure about any aspect of the procedure and what it entails then we would invite you to return for as many follow-up consultations with your surgeon as you like to make sure that buccal fat removal surgery is right for you. The consultation lasts about 45 minutes on average. It may take longer if your procedure is going to be more complex. We would actively recommend coming in for a follow-up consultation to ensure all your questions are answered.
Before your procedure
Once you have decided to move forward with buccal fat removal surgery. Our preoperative assessment team will be in touch to assess medical fitness prior to coming in on the day of surgery. There are a number of instructions to follow before your procedure including stopping any aspirin-containing medicines as these can increase bleeding and ideally stopping smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of slower wound healing as well as more chance of wound complications. On the day of your procedure, you must follow the preoperative fasting guidance which includes no food for 6 hours prior. Only clear fluids (water) are allowed up to 2 hours before your procedure. If you have buccal fat removal under local anaesthetic only, there is no need to fast beforehand.
On the day of your procedure
When you arrive for your buccal fat removal procedure, you should aim to arrive on time to allow the admission process to proceed smoothly. One of our nurses will formally admit you and will check a number of items including making sure you have your postoperative medications. You will have your vital signs measured including blood pressure and heart rate. The anaesthetist will then meet you to perform a preoperative airway assessment. Finally, your surgeon will consent you for the planned procedure followed by a detailed preoperative marking of the areas to be treated. Buccal fat removal takes about 1 hour to perform and if you choose GA, our anaesthetists use TIVA general anaesthesia to keep you comfortable throughout the procedure. The surgeon makes small incisions inside the mouth and will then carefully dissect the redundant fat pad followed by repositioning any underlying fat. The cheek lining will then be carefully closed using fine sutures. After the procedure is complete, you will spend time in our recovery suite where you will be prepared for nurse-led discharge once you have met all the discharge criteria. It is important to have a responsible adult such as a friend or family member to accompany you home and look after you for the first 24 hours.
After your procedure
Once you are safely at home, you can be assured of having access to our specialist postoperative team round the clock. You will be given a contact number to contact your surgeon in the first 24 hours after surgery if there is any concern. Buccal fat removal is associated with very little in the way of postoperative discomfort although a swollen appearance of the cheeks is common for the first week after surgery. Internal bruising should start to subside after 7-10 days.
Our postoperative team will look to call every day for the first 2 weeks after your procedure. This is so we can monitor your levels of comfort and can alert your surgeon if there is any concern. Our proactive approach allows the detection of any potential issues early which results in more effective treatment. You are advised to rest for at least a few days after your buccal fat reduction procedure which will also help with pain control. Heavy exercise should be avoided for at least the first 4 weeks. Our postoperative clinical team will assess your face-to-face at your 1-week postoperative appointment to ensure healing is progressing normally and the site of the wound are healthy. You will be booked for your surgeon's follow-up appointment for 6 weeks after your procedure.