If you spend some time on social media checking out the latest beauty trends, you’ve probably heard of buccal fat removal, clinically referred to as bichectomy or bichectomy.
Posts about #buccalfatremoval, a cosmetic procedure that removes fat from the hollows of the cheeks to give the face a clearer look, recently surpassed 140 million views on TikTok alone. The topic is also hot on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, fueled in part by a series of unconfirmed rumors about celebrities who have practiced it.
Mouth fat pads sit between your jaw bones and cheekbones and help create your face shape. In-office cosmetic procedures to remove buccal fat pads can help emphasize the bone structure of your face by making your cheekbones look more prominent. This article covers everything you need to know about buccal fat removal.
What is buccal fat removal?
Everyone naturally has mouth fat. The exact size of the buccal fat pad can vary. It may appear larger or contribute to a rounder appearance in some people, but not in others. People who have buccal fat removed may feel that their face is too round and desire a more chiseled appearance. The goal of buccal fat removal is to thin the cheeks and make the facial bone structure more pronounced. Also called cheek reduction, this type of plastic surgery emphasizes the contours of the jawbone and cheekbones.
How does buccal fat removal work?
Oral fat removal is usually done on an outpatient basis, using a local anesthetic that numbs the skin of the face and surrounding areas. Patients generally do not need general anesthesia unless they have to undergo other more complex procedures at the same time. To perform this job, a plastic surgeon makes a small incision inside the mouth, on both sides of the face, to access the oral fat pads. The surgeon then presses on the pads to expose more of this fatty tissue and facilitate the cutting and removal of all or part of the mouth pads. The surgeon then places stitches to heal the incision, which may dissolve or require a follow-up visit for removal.
Who can consider buccal fat removal?
If you are considering buccal fat removal, there are certain things that may make you a good candidate for this procedure. Ideally, you have no serious underlying health conditions and are at a stable weight. You are also a non-smoker.
And if your goal is to achieve results that still look natural, you may be a better candidate for this procedure if you have a rounder face than if you naturally have a long, thin face. This is because removing fat from a naturally thin face can make the face look abnormally sunken.
This cosmetic procedure is also a better option for young adults. This is because middle-aged and older adults naturally lose fat in this part of the face and are less likely to get the results they seek from removing buccal fat. This procedure gives the face a more gaunt appearance, which many people prefer when they are in their 20s or 30s. However, with age, starting in your 40s and 50s, the face naturally loses fat. People who have had this procedure tend to develop a skeletal appearance, much more so than people who have left their mouth fat pads alone.
In fact, many patients who undergo buccal fat removal later return for injectable filler procedures to restore volume to the very area where they had buccal fat removal. This phenomenon occurs in everyone, but it can be more marked in people who are thin to begin with.
What are the potential side effects of buccal fat removal?
Common side effects after the operation may include swelling and bruising on the face and numbness at the incisions. People usually heal after about three weeks, but sometimes it takes several months to see the final results on the face shape. As with any surgery, there are risks.
Here are some of the risks that can occur during buccal fat removal:
Infection at the incision
Damage to facial nerves or salivary duct
Numbness or change in sensation
You should contact your doctor if you experience excessive bleeding, fever or any other signs of infection, changes in your sense of taste or signs of asymmetry in your face which could indicate poor healing. While buccal fat removal is generally considered safe, rare serious complications may include shortness of breath, chest pain, or abnormal heart rhythm. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.