Buccal fat removal, also known as buccal fat pad removal or cheek reduction surgery, is a facial contouring procedure that aims to create a slimmer and more defined appearance. By taking out a small portion of the facial fat, you can achieve a model-like look that accentuates your jawline and cheekbones. Patients can also expect improved facial symmetry as a result of this procedure. As the excess fat is removed and the facial contours are redistributed, any asymmetry in the cheeks can be corrected, leading to a more balanced facial appearance with less roundness and chubbiness.
At Scottsdale Plastics, each of our patients receives thorough and individualized care under our highly accomplished, board-certified surgeon, Dr. Robert Bonillas. After you schedule your appointment with him, you will be able to discuss your cosmetic concerns and desires freely. He meticulously follows up with each patient post-procedure to ensure they have a healthy recovery and the best results possible.
Before and After Photos
- 1 Before and After Photos
- 2 About Buccal Fat
- 3 Candidates for Buccal Fat Removal
- 4 Personal Consultation
- 5 Preparation
- 6 Procedure Steps
- 7 Recovery and Results
- 8 Corresponding & Complementary Procedures
- 9 Cost of Buccal Fat Removal in Scottsdale, AZ
- 10 FAQ
- 11 References
About Buccal Fat
Although the buccal fat pads do serve some purpose, some of the tissue can be safely and strategically removed for cosmetic enhancement. The fat pads lie within both cheeks, between the buccinator and the masseter muscles. While the buccinator allows you to swallow, the masseter aids in chewing. A portion of the pads allows these muscles to move smoothly during these movements. With his vast knowledge of facial anatomy, Dr. Bonillas preserves the structural integrity of all facial muscles and surrounding tissues, including the parotid gland and duct, which are responsible for releasing saliva. (1)
Many people with excessive amounts of buccal fat attempt to lose them with weight loss, but unfortunately, this area is highly resistant to change. As you enter adulthood, the same amount of fat stays within the face, but the face matures- leading to a loss of relative volume. (2) For some people, this roundness remains, making them excellent candidates for this minimally invasive procedure. Since these fat pads do not regenerate, the resulting facial sculpting is completely permanent.
Buccal fat procedures also have a long history of research behind them. In 1980, Dr. Leonard Epstein was the first to study and publish his findings. From its inception until today, these procedures have been continually shown to have low complication and high satisfaction rates with patients, so long as an appropriate amount of buccal fat is removed. (3)
Candidates for Buccal Fat Removal
We require our patients to be at least 20 years of age with a healthy BMI. Age is an important factor, since your buccal fat must be fully developed at the time of your surgery. You must also have extra buccal fat already present within your cheeks to be considered for the procedure. Patients with slimmer faces to begin with are at risk of looking more gaunt as they age.
During your consultation, Dr. Bonillas will take the time to listen to your specific concerns and goals. He will explain the buccal fat removal procedure in detail, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of what to expect. As a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive training in facial contouring, Dr. Bonillas can provide you with expert advice on the procedure. He will discuss the risks and benefits, as well as any alternative options available to achieve your desired facial slimming results.
If you’re looking for sleeker, slimmer facial contours, it’s important to fully prepare for the surgery and the responsibility of closely following recovery instructions. Prior to any procedure, Dr. Bonillas will order certain blood tests to ensure that you are in good health. He will then advise you to pick up your prescription medications beforehand. At home, you should stock up on doctor-approved over-the-counter medications; while Dr. Bonillas can provide you with prescription medications, many buccal fat removal patients recover well without them.
Roughly 2 weeks prior to your procedure date, you should stop taking blood thinning and anti-inflammatory medications to prevent bruising and/or bleeding. If you are a regular smoker or vaper, you should refrain from doing so for at least 1 month- doing so will drastically improve your blood circulation and the way your body heals. You should also abstain from drinking alcohol at least 2 days before since it acts like a blood thinner. Finally, you will need to arrange for someone to take you home afterward and plan on taking at least 4 days of downtime from work and other activities.
Buccal fat removal is considered a minimally invasive procedure since it only requires tiny incisions on the inside of each cheek. After anesthesia, Dr. Bonillas will create two short incisions inside the mouth. He will then navigate around the incision to locate the buccal fat pad and gently remove the portion that lies between the buccinator and masseter muscles. He will be careful to avoid affecting the functionality of the parotid duct and gland as well as essential facial nerves. After removing it, he will then cauterize the incision, effectively preventing bleeding and infection. Next, he will use a few dissolvable sutures at the incision sites. Within just 1 hour of surgery time, this approach can completely transform your facial symmetry and contours.
Recovery and Results
Immediately after the procedure, you will have a lot of swelling in your cheeks, but this is a completely normal and temporary reaction. Even with this swelling, you’ll likely be able to return to work after just 2 days. Although this inflammation is a necessary part of your recovery, you will be able to relieve some of it with ice packs and over-the-counter medications approved by Dr. Bonillas. You should only use an ice pack for roughly 10 to 15 minutes at one time. If you use it for longer, be sure to take 15-minute breaks in between. Many patients don’t need prescription medications, but Dr. Bonillas may order them if you are concerned about any possible discomfort.
For the first week of your recovery, you’ll be required to eat mushy, non-acidic foods with low sodium to prevent any damage to your incisions. Over the course of the next 3 weeks, you’ll begin to notice your final results settle in gradually. Buccal fat removal won’t change your unique features, but it will enhance the definition of your facial structure.
Corresponding & Complementary Procedures
With one small incision, Dr. Bonillas can insert the thin FaceTite instrument and administer radiofrequency (RF) energy to the subcutaneous tissue. This is a type of thermal energy that works to melt fat and provide rejuvenating effects such as mild skin tightening and increased collagen production in the skin. This unique procedure can sculpt more definition in your face while also helping your skin heal and look youthful from within.
Juvéderm Voluma XC
This dermal filler serves to volumize sunken areas of the face as well as accentuate certain facial features. It utilizes hyaluronic acid (HA), a substance that is naturally produced in the skin, so it is completely biocompatible. While Juvéderm Voluma XC won’t remove the fat itself, it is a non-invasive option that can serve to highlight the cheekbones and/or jawline to reduce the chubby cheeks appearance.
Cost of Buccal Fat Removal in Scottsdale, AZ
The cost of buccal fat removal can vary depending on several factors. Dr. Bonillas understands that each patient is unique, and therefore, requires an individualized treatment plan. We believe in complete transparency when it comes to pricing, which is why you will receive an accurate estimate during your personal consultation. This allows you to have a clear understanding of the financial investment involved in achieving your desired aesthetic goals.
Read the Scottsdale Plastics Beauty Talk Blog for more information about our services.
At what age should I get buccal fat removal?
Your surgeon can remove buccal fat at any point after you are 20 years old; this is the age when buccal fat is fully developed.
Will buccal fat removal make me look old?
Highly skilled surgeons with years of experience only perform this procedure on those who have a significant amount of buccal fat and will benefit from the procedure long-term.
Is buccal fat removal permanent?
Buccal fat removal procedures are permanent because the body cannot regenerate new fat cells, including the buccal fat pads.
Is buccal fat pad removal reversible if I don’t like the outcome?
The results of buccal fat pad removal can be reversed temporarily with dermal fillers or permanently with facial fat transfer.
- Davis B, Serra M. Buccal Fat Pad Reduction. PubMed. Published 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK576413/
- Weniger FG, Weidman AA. The Buccal Fat Pad. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open. 2019;7(7):e2328. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/gox.0000000000002328
- Moura LB, Spin JR, Spin-Neto R, Pereira-Filho VA. Buccal fat pad removal to improve facial aesthetics: an established technique? Medicina Oral, Patología Oral y Cirugía Bucal. 2018;23(4):e478-e484. doi:https://doi.org/10.4317/medoral.22449