What is Buccal Fat Pad Removal?

Published: January 19, 2023
Category: In The News

If you have been anywhere near social media in the last few months, you have probably noticed an explosion of celebrities and influencers sharing their experiences with buccal fat pad removal. This cosmetic procedure aims to accentuate cheekbones and slim the face by removing small pockets of fat from the cheeks. But buccal fat pad removal comes with potential risks, some of which may negatively impact how youthful your face appears in the future.

Trends have a place, and it shouldn’t be on your face. Just because celebrities are having a procedure performed doesn’t mean it is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. It is important for patients to educate themselves about trending procedures so they understand the risks associated with them, who can legally and safely perform them, and how they may impact their future appearance. The current social media aesthetic of an extremely sculpted face and angular cheeks may lead some people to have procedures now that will actually make them appear older in the future.

What is Buccal Fat Pad Removal?

The buccal fat pads are located between the cheekbone and the jawbone on each side of the face. Their volume contributes to the uniqueness of each of our faces. When this fat is removed, its absence can highlight the face’s bone structure by hollowing out the area between the cheekbone and jawline. As a result, the face appears more sculpted, angular, and slim.

Buccal fat pad removal isn’t new to plastic surgery. It has been around for decades and is sometimes performed with other procedures like facelift surgery when appropriate. But the recent popularity over the ‘snatched jawline’ and sculpted cheekbones, especially on social media, has younger patients, some even in their 20s, requesting buccal fat pad removal to look like the people they see on Instagram and TikTok. Many plastic surgeons are concerned about this trend because when buccal fat pad removal is performed to on younger patients, it may affect how youthful their faces appear in the future.

How is Buccal Fat Pad Removal Performed?

Buccal fat pad removal is performed in a hospital, surgery center, or surgeon’s office under local anesthesia. A plastic surgeon makes a small incision inside the mouth to each cheek to expose the buccal fat pad. They then cut and remove each fat pad. Dissolvable sutures are used to close the incision.

What are the Risks Associated with Buccal Fat Pad Removal

Like any surgery, buccal fat pad removal comes with potential risks. Some of these include infection at the incision site, injuries to facial nerves and salivary ducts, numbness or changes in sensation in the face, and asymmetry of the face after a patient has healed.

Will Buccal Fat Pad Removal Make a Patient’s Face Look Older in the Future?

A common debate over buccal fat pad removal is that patients exchange a sculpted look in the present for looking older beyond their years in the future. Full, round, high cheeks are typically a visible sign of youth on the human face. If and when too much volume is removed from the cheeks, a patient may be left looking gaunt, hollowed out, and prematurely aged.

When recommending or performing ANY procedure, an experienced plastic surgeon is constantly thinking of how the outcome will look now, and how will it look ten and twenty years from now. Therefore, many have reservations regarding buccal fat pad removal, especially for younger patients. Removing this robust, healthy, youthful fat from the cheeks today may cause a young patient’s face to look ten years older than it should in the future, and there is no way to restore that fat and reverse the procedure. Buccal fat pad removal is permanent.

As we age, facial fat atrophies or shrinks. As a result, our face generally appears flatter, hollowed out, and more gaunt as we grow older. If a younger patient has their buccal fat removed, and whatever is left atrophies over the years, what will they look like twenty years after their procedure? Overly thinned out and prematurely aged?

There are some patients who are appropriate candidates for buccal fat pad removal, or cheek reduction, but this tends to be a small category of people. True candidates have excessively plump cheeks or an overly round face, sometimes to the extent that volume of excess facial fat impedes their facial expressions. But, to have this procedure performed solely to achieve a more sculpted and angular face may place a patient at risk for looking even older as their face naturally ages. Facial fat is precious and can’t effectively be replaced by fat transfer or dermal fillers. Patients in their 20s and 30s are strongly encouraged to embrace the natural, full beauty of their face now and not sacrifice its future youthfulness to a fleeting social media trend.

*Please note, Edina Plastic Surgery does not perform buccal fat pad removal as a stand-alone procedure. If you are interested in enhancing your cheekbones and/or accentuating your jawline and profile, please schedule a complimentary consultation with a Skin Artisans Injection Specialist to discuss dermal fillers. Call (952) 234-8414, text (952) 767-3163, or CLICK HERE to schedule.

Schedule a complimentary consultation with an Edina Plastic Surgery board-certified plastic surgeon by calling (612) 688-3177, texting (952) 925-1765, or CLICKING HERE.

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