Buccal fat is an encapsulated collection of deep fat in the cheeks located next to the upper molar teeth and deep to some of the facial muscles. It creates a glide plane between the mucles of the jaw when chewing. Present at birth, it is the fat that gives the cherub appearance to babies and may aid in suckling. With facial growth, it becomes less noticeable in most people. When the cheek portion remains full into adulthood, it creates an appearance sometimes referred to as “chipmunk cheeks” or “baby face”. Regular diet and exercise may not significantly impact it’s size but it may shrink with advanced age creating a gaunt appearance in some people. In the right person, removing some of this fat can slim down the face even creating an appearance of higher more defined cheek bones. It is sometimes confused with the jowl fat which is lower down obscuring the jawline. Unlike the jowl fat, liposuction and skin tightening procedures will not improve buccal fat. Buccal fat is deeper and below the facial nerves so it is usually removed safely and more consistently through a small incision inside the mouth. Too much removal can create an unhealthy appearance later in life. It may be helpful to notice if this trait persists in your parents before making the decision to have it reduced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dr. Fink has treated thousands of cosmetic patients in Southern California from surgical centers in Beverly Hills to La Jolla in San Diego. He is Board Certified Otolaryngology and Facial Plastic Surgery. His surgical training and understanding of anatomy makes him an ideal doctor to administer a Buccal fat removal. The natural and youthful results of his patients support this statement. He also has extensive US-accredited training to perform cosmetic brow lifts and other cosmetic surgery procedures.
The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes about an hour. It is usually performed under local anesthesia with sedation. After numbing the area inside the cheek, Dr. Stephen Fink creates a 2-3 cm incision inside the cheek opposite the upper molars. By opening the buccinator (cheek muscle) fibers and applying external pressure, the fat is identified and teased through the incision with surgical forceps removing the desired amount on both sides. The incisions are then closed with dissolvable sutures.
Although the results can be subtle, the face will appear more defined and slim, accentuating the cheekbones and chin. The removal of cheek fat will often make people look more mature and can boost self confidence. The oral approach also means there are no external incisions.
While buccal fat removal is a safe procedure, there are still risks with all surgical procedures. Consideration should be given to how it may affect your appearance as you continue to age. Most of the time the cheek fat thins out over time as the face matures. Removing too much fat can result in sunken or gaunt appearance when you are older. Though it is impossible to predict this, how your parents have aged can give an indication of your genetic tendency. If chubby cheeks are prevalent in your family, you are probably a good candidate.
Short term potential side effects may include swelling, bruising, infection or numbness near the incision. These side effects are usually temporary and may resolve within a couple days to a few weeks. In rare cases, numbness can be long term. More troublesome is lumpiness or scar tissue felt within the cheek, puckering of the skin and asymetry. While this can usually be corrected, it may require subsequent procedures. However, Buccal fat is contained within membranes and once removed, it is not easily replaced.
Immediately following the procedure, it is normal that your mouth may feel tight with mild pain or discomfort for a short time. You will need to chew carefully to avoid biting the sutures or swollen cheeks. Acidic foods can cause irritation so they should be avoided. It is recommended to rinse with a mouth wash several times a day, especially after meals. Although most visible swelling resolves within a week, it may take up to 4 months to see the final stable result.
We Can Help
Having performed over 5,000 facial rejuvenation procedures Dr Fink is the industry leader in facial cosmetic surgery. His attention to detail coupled with the most advanced techniques will leave you with results that exceed anything you could have expected. Let Dr Fink’s 27 years of experience speak for itself.