Buccal fat reduction (aka bichectomy) involves slimming your facial appearance by removing excess stubborn fat in the cheek area. This procedure is beneficial for patients who have puffy “chipmunk cheeks” that do not change with weight loss/gain. It can also be beneficial for facial feminization for both women who want a more feminine appearance of transgender patients looking for a softer appearance in the midface area.
Buccal fat reduction is also a common adjunctive surgery for facelift candidates. While facelift surgery can elevate the muscles that have fallen with time and gravity, sometimes there is buccal fat that has descended that can only be treated with a buccal fat reduction. A classic example of someone who would have benefitted from this type of buccal fat reduction was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as she had a sizable amount of buccal fat that descended into her prejowl area.
The term of the procedure Buccal Fat Reduction is named this on purpose- we do not remove all of the buccal fat, just reduce it to get rid of the excess. In this manner, we avoid anyone having the gaunt appearance of an overaggressive and overdone surgery in this area. The goal is to have a natural facial contour such that the cheekbones are the widest part of the midface that gently contours down to the jawline.
Similar to the deep necklift, buccal fat reduction is a potential treatment option for patients of a wide range of ages. This is because buccal fat hypertrophy (excess buccal fat) is highly genetic and is usually present from young adulthood or earlier. Buccal fat herniation and descent is more age-related but luckily can be treated with the same type of procedure.
Buccal fat reduction surgery is an outpatient procedure where you can go home the same day. This procedure is done via a small incision on the inside of the mouth. Because of this hidden approach, there is a very small risk of external bruising or other telltale signs of surgery besides some minor swelling. In this way, patients are able to return to work and their social life very quickly. We still advise limiting any strenuous exercise for a few weeks to allow the tissues to properly heal.
After surgery, you are prescribed an antibiotic pill as well as a mouthwash to use to prevent any infection, as well as pain medication to use only if needed. The sutures used on the inside of the mouth are dissolvable so they are not required to be removed afterwards. For best results, we advise patients to stick to a liquid diet immediately after surgery and gradually introduce softer foods as your incisions heal to ensure comfort and allow proper healing.
If you think you may be a candidate for a buccal fat reduction or have more questions about the procedure, please reach out to set up a complimentary consultation with Dr. Bovenzi.