The desire for a more sculpted face with the appearance of higher cheekbones has been on the rise. One of the most highly requested facial cosmetic procedures that helps to achieve the sculpted look is known as the buccal fat pad removal procedure. Celebrities like Bella Hadid, Angelina Jolie, and Margot Robbie are a few examples of the “look” that patients are seeking when they come in for buccal fat pad removal.
What is the buccal fat pad?
The buccal fat pad is a small normal pad o fat that is found in each cheek beneath the hollow area under the cheekbones. The main purpose of the fat pad is to provide a layer of cushioning and to protect the chewing muscles in the lower cheeks. While everyone has buccal fat pads, buccal fat can be more pronounced in some than others. Individuals with fuller buccal fat pads have more volume in the bottom portion of their cheeks. Excess fat storage in this area can be hereditary is mostly hereditary, as you can find otherwise slender people with large buccal fat deposits. Those looking to slim their cheeks while creating a beautiful contour and chisel to the face are considered great candidates for buccal fat removal.
Buccal fat removal is a short surgical procedure where some or all of the buccal fat found in the face is removed for immediate and permanent results. By removing large fat deposits from the lower face, a thinner and more sculpted facial shape, especially in the jaw line is created. Those desiring this procedure must note that buccal fat removal can potentially worsen the appearance of nasolabial folds or smile lines, as it is often the fat pad that helps to smoothen out this area of the face. Additionally, removing too much fat can create a gaunt look due to the extreme loss of fat and collagen, therefore it is important to only have this procedure performed by a board certified plastic surgeon that can best advise you on best outcomes.
Expected results after buccal fat pad removal include
- More slender appearing face
- More pronounced and higher appearing cheekbones
- More chiseled and sculpted facial features
Candidates for Buccal Fat Pad Removal
Ideal candidates for Buccal Fat Pad Removal
- 20 to 40 years old
- Full, round, or “chubby” cheeks
- Men seeking a stronger jawline and a more chiseled masculine look
- Are at ideal body weight. Overweight individuals may not notice dramatic improvement with buccal fat pad removal
- Not planning to lose or gain a significant amount of weight in the future
Buccal fat removal is a permanent, minor surgical procedure that can be performed under local and/or general anesthesia. Recovery is relatively quick and results are immediately.
Following administration of anesthesia, the surgeon will make two small incisions inside of the mouth and then gently remove or “tease out” as much of the fat pad from the incision to create the desired look. Depending on the desired results the surgeon may remove the entire fat pad or just a portion of it. When the buccal fat pads are removed, they present as little globs fat. The incision created is located on the inside of the cheek near the two upper molars and closed with dissolvable sutures that dissolve within 1-2 weeks.
Buccal fat pad removal takes about an hour to perform and can also be performed simultaneously with other facial procedures including rhinoplasty, facelift, or lip augmentation. It is important to only have this procedure performed by a board certified plastic surgeon to ensure proper removal of the fat pad and that the desired look is natural and specific to the patient’s face.
Complete removal of buccal fat pad vs. partial removal of buccal fat pad
The amount of tissue that is removed will differ depending on each patient’s desired look. A partial buccal fat pad removal means that there is still some remaining fat left behind in the lower cheek region. With partial fat pad removal if a patient gains weight the results of their surgery will be diminished. For older patients or patients with moderate size fat pads who still desire the high cheekbone look, a partial buccal fat pad removal may prevent the patient from appearing gaunt after this procedure. A younger patient who has more volume in their face may better benefit from having the whole buccal fat pad removed to ensure more dramatic results.
Are the results of buccal fat removal permanent?
Yes, the results from buccal fat removal are permanent unless there is significant weight gain. The ideal candidate will be at a maintainable weight as gaining 20 or more pounds can create fullness in the cheeks again.
Can liposuction be used to remove the buccal fat pad?
Unfortunately, liposuction is not an option to remove buccal fat due to the location deep in the face and the consistency of fat is different from regular fat.
Cost of Buccal Fat Pad Removal
Factors determining of Buccal Fat Pad Removal:
- Surgeons Fee: $3,500
- Anesthesia Fee: Depends on length of procedure
- Hospital and Surgical Facility Fees: Depends on length of procedure
- Post-Surgery Garments and Recovery Device: Included with surgeon’s fee at The Naderi Center.
- Pre-Surgical Medical Clearance and Lab Tests: Usually covered by medical insurance
- Medication Costs: Usually covered by medical insurance
- Follow-Up Visits: Included with surgeon’s fee at The Naderi Center
Preparation for Buccal Fat Pad Removal
The first step in preparing for a buccal fat removal procedure is having a consultation appointment with a board-certified plastic surgeon to determine whether you are a good candidate for this procedure. Your surgeon may also present other options for achieving a more sculpted facial appearance including facial fillers, fat grafting or sometimes even weight loss.
Pre Operative Timeline
3-4 weeks before surgery
- Obtain medical evaluation and clearance from your primary care physician
- Complete require laboratory testing
- Make work and recovery arrangements.
- Stop tobacco, cigarettes, and nicotine consumption which will cause poor wound healing, longer healing times, and excessive scarring.
2 weeks before surgery
- Surgery Pre Op Appointment: You will come in for your pre op appointment where you will review the surgery plan with your surgeon and go over logistical surgery details with your patient coordinator.
- Avoid foods, drinks, and herbal supplements than can increase risk of bleeding and bruising.
- Avoid aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Motrin, blood thinners, vitamin E, omega-3, fish oil, and alcohol.
- Use Tylenol in place of other over the counter pain medications.
- These may include antibiotics and/or pain medication for after the surgery as well as pre-medication to take prior to your procedure.
1-2 weeks before surgery
- Accumulate recommended items on surgery shopping list
- Review instructions with caregiver. Confirm who will be driving you to and from the surgical center and who will stay with you for at least 24 hours after the surgery.
- Start Arnica tablets two days before surgery.
Night before surgery
DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING AFTER MIDNIGHT OR SURGERY WILL BE CANCELLED.
- If prescribed, take medications with a small sip of water.
Set up home recovery area
- This may include pillows, blankets, books, television, and anything else to assist with a comfortable recovery.
- you can shower but do not apply lotion, perfume, hair product, etc.
Day of Surgery
Wear comfortable clothes
- Dress in comfortable and loose-fitting clothes.
- Do not wear any makeup, jewelry, cosmetic creams, contacts, hair products, deodorant, sunscreen, and remove all piercings.
Surgical facility arrival.
- Have someone accompany you to and from the surgical center. Arrive at the pre-designated time and remember to bring a form of identification.
Recovery after Buccal Fat Pad Removal
Following buccal fat removal, patients may experience soreness and facial swelling that dissipates within 2 to 3 weeks. The cheeks will begin to look thin and more contoured once the swelling has gone down with zero visible scarring. The best results will appear after a few weeks to months and improve with time as swelling leaves the cheeks.
The tissues inside of the mouth need about 7 to 10 days of recovery time, therefore the patient should maintain a soft food diet in the first couple of days following surgery. Ice and over the counter pain medication like Tylenol are recommended to control for swelling and discomfort.
Dissolvable sutures are normally used so there is no need to have sutures removed during follow-up appointments. It is recommended that buccal fat removal patients sleep on their backs with their heads elevated for the first 3 nights to assist with recovery. The first week after the procedure, all strenuous activity and contact sports should be avoided. Most patients can return to their normal activities after about 1 to 2 weeks.
What can I eat following buccal fat removal?
It is recommended that granular and sharp foods are avoided following the procedure as there are 2 small incisions within the cheeks where these types of foods can get stuck in the wounds. Instead, foods like mashed potatoes or a well-blended smoothie are good options during recovery.
Risks, Safety and Potential Complications after Buccal Fat Pad Removal
While baccal fat pad removal is a relatively quick and easy procedure, as with any surgery, there are intrinsic risks. One of the biggest concerns is the large unknown of how you may age with time without the extra volume provided by the buccal fat pad. Some doctors are hesitant to perform this procedure on very young patients since facial volume and structure can change over decades and some patients have reported regretting the loss of fat in the face in their later years.
“During our thorough consultation one of the issues that I bring up with young patients is unpreditablity of what the face may look like 20-30 years down the line. My desire is that patients are content with their decision and their facial structure even as the natural aging process occurs.”Dr. Jessica Kulak Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgery
Other potential complications associate with buccal fat removal can include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding and hematoma formation
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood cloth)
- Numbness around the surgical area
- Facial muscle weakness, facial nerve injury, or paralysis due to facial nerve damage in the surgical area
- Persistent pain, poor healing, prolonged inflammation, salivary duct injury, and seroma (fluid retention) are also possible
Buccal Fat Pad Removal surgeon, Dr. Jessica Kulak
Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Jessica Kulak specializes in exclusively facial procedures. Dr. Kulak is well versed and experienced in the buccal fat pad removal procedure. Dr. Kulak will be able to advise you whether this procedure is ideal for your situation or whether other options exist that can achieve better results.
Schedule A Consultation for Buccal Fat Pad Removal
To find out if buccal fat removal is the right procedure for you, contact The Naderi Center to schedule a consultation. Contact the Reston, Virginia office at 703-481-0002 or the Chevy Chase, Maryland office at 301-222-2020. Although The Naderi Center is conveniently located for patients throughout the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. area, we have many patients from across the United States who travel to our surgeons because they know they are ultra-specialized in their area of cosmetic plastic surgery. Those outside of the immediate area may request a virtual consultation with our specialists.