Buccal fat removal is essentially cheek reduction surgery in which, as the name suggests, the buccal fat is removed. The buccal fat pad sits just under your cheek bones and consists of tissue and lobules of fat. This treatment can be performed on men and women and is a good antidote for those with ‘chipmunk’ cheeks or over-sized jowls.
The end result should give your face better proportions leaving it looking thinner and more sculpted. Although it’s typically performed on those in their mid-20s to 40s, the only age requirement is that you are 18+. The operation is deemed inappropriate for patients past their 40s as by this time we all start to naturally loose fat around our faces. The procedure can be performed along side other operations, such as a nose job, facelift or liposuction, but is generally a stand alone treatment.
The operation should take around an hour to 90 minutes, again dependant on the individual in question. It will generally be performed under light sleep sedation or general anaesthetic (both through an IV). However regional or local anaesthetic administered orally is a possible option.
As with all surgical procedures buccal fat removal should be performed by a qualified and skilled plastic surgeon whose background and experience in this procedure you have researched and have had confirmed to you by the surgery. The procedure, as with all surgery, should be performed in a hospital or an accredited surgical suite.
The incisions themselves are only 2-4 cm long, and are made inside the mouth running from the cheek to the gum; so any scarring won’t be visible. This also means that this procedure is relatively un-invasive compared to many other cosmetic procedures. However you’ll still experience some swelling and mild bruising, the extent to which will depend upon your personal health and lifestyle. In terms of pain, you should expect some mild discomfort; but any actual pain should be controlled by the medication prescribed to you. If this is not the case you should contact your surgeon immediately. As is the case with most surgery you also run the risk of infection, which is why it is very important to strictly follow any post-surgery advice given, which will reduce the like-hood of any problems.
Although complications for this procedure are relatively rare it is not risk-free. Previous patients have reported loss of sensation along the incision lines (around the cheeks and jaw-line) which can be long-lasting or even permanent. Other potential risks include asymmetry and a ‘gaunt’ appearance, the only remedy for which is further cosmetic surgery. Some patients have also experienced eye-brow and eye-lash loss due to the medications used.
As with all surgery really you should have someone around to care for you during the recovery period. It is also advised that you remain elevated at all times for as long as two or three weeks, including when you’re sleeping.
Depending on what kind of job you do, you should be able to return to work 3 days to a week after your surgery. This kind of time-scale will apply to any desk jobs that don’t require too much talking. Any more active jobs may require further healing time. This, of course, should be discussed with your surgeon before you agree to undergo the procedure.
You will be prohibited from any kind of exercise for around 3 weeks after your operation and for several weeks it will be very important that you do not raise your blood pressure as this can slow-down the healing process. This means that for 6 weeks, or more, you will be unable to participate in any vigorous activities or sports.
For the first day after your surgery you are advised not to wash your face or wear make-up, but following that you will be able to do this. For the first couple of days you’ll only be able to eat soft foods and for the first 2 weeks following the operation you’ll have to limit the amount you chew. Salty foods should also be avoided in order to keep swelling to a minimum. You’ll also need to rinse your mouth with water after eating to ensure nothing enters the incisions inside your mouth.
You should expect to make at least 2 return visits after your operation. The first will be to remove sutures (unless dissolvable ones are used), around 7-10 days after your surgery, and the second will be a general check-up 3 weeks later to ensure you are able to resume normal activity and gentle exercise.
It’s important that you are realistic with the results of your surgery and also don’t become disheartened if you don’t see an immediate result. Remember: It can take as much as 4 months to see the full outcome. Communication with the surgeon who will be performing the operation is a vital part of this as they will be able to convey a realistic idea of what is achievable in your specific case.
Communication is vital in all parts of the cosmetic surgery process. In disclosing your medical history you should be completely honest as this could affect many factors including your suitability for the procedure and how you could respond to it. Anything, as trivial as being a smoker or on medication, could be important. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure your as thorough as possible in disclosing information that could affect your surgery.
Remember cosmetic surgery is a serious decision and has life-changing consequences. Always do your research thoroughly so the decisions you make are well informed and never agree to anything before speaking to your surgeon and until you are completely happy with everything you have heard and read about buccal fat removal.