Buccal fat extraction, also referred to as buccal fat removal, is a cosmetic surgery that recontours the sides of the face to reduce or eliminate the appearance of 'chubby' cheeks. A small incision is made on the inside of the mouth through which a teaspoon-sized amount of buccal fat is removed.
Buccal fat extraction is a procedure that involves the removal of small amounts of fat from the buccal fat pads in the cheeks through intraoral incisions. These are cuts made on the inside of the mouth and fat is removed to create a new contour for the face, providing a more slimline appearance.
In your initial consultation, your doctor will take a full and comprehensive medical history including details of any medications or herbal remedies you may be using. They may ask you to refrain from using any supplements or medications that can increase the risk of bleeding, such as aspirin and ibuprofen for a period of time leading up to your surgery. Your surgeon should also explain in detail the possible outcomes and risks as well as potential long terms consequences. The area around where the fat was removed during the extraction will naturally thin and fall as you age, and not every person will gain that same amount of aesthetic benefit from the procedure.
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will also go through your options for anaesthesia. Buccal fat extractions are usually carried out as an outpatient procedure unless they are being performed as one of many different facelift surgeries. Even as a stand-alone surgery, patients are usually offered a choice between either local anaesthetic or a general anaesthetic
Once you have been sedated with either local or general anaesthetic your surgeon will make a small incision of between two to three inches in the back area of your mouth, generally directly across from the second premolar. They will then make a second incision into the buccinator muscle, allowing access to the buccal fat pads themselves. An application of pressure then forces the pads to protrude a small amount through the incisions, enabling the surgeon to grip and hold them in place with a set of forceps.
Next, they will cut a small amount of fat from each based on the amount required to recontour the cheeks to the desired level. A surgeon with a high level of experience carrying out similar kinds of surgery is desirable for this stage of the procedure as they will be able to accurately gauge the correct amount of fat to remove.
Once the extraction has been carried out, the buccal fat pads are moved back into place and the incisions are closed. Most surgeons will use dissolvable sutures to do this. They may also position gauze soaked in antibiotics along the incisions for a brief period and wrap your head in a dressing to apply pressure to the incisions. You can ask your surgeon whether they apply either of these last two steps beforehand if you are unsure.
Before the surgery has taken place, your doctor should have outlined the possible outcomes and gauged expectations correctly. Most surgeons opt for a conservative approach when it comes to buccal fat removal. They prefer the amount of fat taken to fall on the side of too little rather than too much.
As buccal fat extraction involves incisions made to sensitive regions of the face and the removal of fat, a certain amount of discomfort and pain is to be expected following the surgery. Recovery times can vary, but most swelling and pain will recede in the first few days. Your doctor will likely recommend that you remain on a soft or liquid diet for the first week after the surgery, protecting the sutures and creating an intraoral environment that is more conducive to a quick healing process. It is a good idea to plan a little in advance and have some soft foods already in the house when you come home from surgery.
You can discuss your satisfaction with the results of the surgery with your doctor in the follow-up meetings that they will schedule with you post-operation. However, it is also important to keep in mind that while initial swelling will reduce within the first week, it may be several weeks before it disappears entirely and the final results are visible.