The buccal fat pad is a collection of fat in the middle of the cheek, lying between muscles involved with chewing and facial movement. Most clearly visible in the faces of children, loss of volume to the buccal fat pad is a common and natural occurrence. However, in some patients a significant amount of fat can remain, with the excessive fat resulting in a rounded face or ‘chubby cheeks’.
What can buccal fat pad removal achieve?
Buccal fat pad removal is aimed to give a more sculpted and chiselled look. By thinning the cheeks, the more prominent cheek hollows follow the ‘inverted triangle of beauty’, further enhancing the zygomatic prominences for a more aesthetically pleasing shape to the cheekbones. The procedure is not recommended for patients with very thin or narrow faces, as removing the buccal fat pad can cause their faces to look gaunter and older.
Who are candidates for buccal fat pad removal?
Candidates for buccal fat pad removal need to be of good health overall, and have maintained a stable and healthy weight. The procedure is most suitable for:
- Young patients aged 20 – 50 years
- Patients who wish to address chubby or ‘chipmunk’ cheeks
- Patients who desire enhancement of their zygomatic prominences (cheek bones)
How buccal fat pad removal surgery is performed
The surgical procedure can be performed under local anaesthetic, but some patients may prefer general anaesthetic or sedation. In order to prevent visible scarring, the incisions required for the procedure are made inside the mouth, along the upper gum line. If performed in conjunction with a facelift, the incision inside the mouth need not be required. Once the incisions are made, Dr Thomas will then enter the pocket of fat, delicately teasing out the fat through gentle external pressure on the cheek. Dissolvable sutures will be used, which will be absorbed by the body naturally during the healing process.
What to expect after buccal fat pad removal
The amount of fat that is removed depends on the volume that is present. It is important to leave some fat behind as excessive removal can create complications. A minor amount of swelling will be present and the final result will take several months to become evident.
One concern with the procedure is what happens later in life with facial ageing. The amount of fat in the face will generally diminish with time and therefore excessive removal can create more of a skeletal or ‘gaunt’ look when a patient reaches later years. Other rare complications include issues with mouth opening, facial movement, and saliva duct obstruction. Choosing a specialist plastic surgeon like Dr Damon Thomas places you in experienced hands. He will assess you and advise whether you are a suitable candidate for buccal fat pad removal, as well as discuss how much fat can be safely removed for aesthetically pleasing results now and in the future.
Buccal fat pad removal is a safe and lasting procedure for adult patients looking to address excessive fullness in the cheeks. To discover if this procedure may be right for you, contact Dr Thomas at the Melbourne Institute of Plastic Surgery on 03 9034 7738.