Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — Written by Kirsten Nunez on June 26, 2020

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The buccal fat pad is a rounded mass of fat in the middle of your cheek. It’s located between facial muscles, in the hollow area beneath your cheekbone. The size of your buccal fat pads affects your face shape.

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Everyone has buccal fat pads. However, the size of buccal fat pads can vary greatly.

If you have larger buccal fat pads, you might feel like your face is too round or full. You may also feel like you have a “baby face.”

There’s nothing wrong with having bigger cheeks. But if you’d like to make them smaller, a plastic surgeon might recommend buccal fat removal. This surgery is done to reduce the width of round faces.

If you’re interested in buccal fat removal, read on to learn about the procedure and the potential complications.

What is buccal fat removal?

Buccal fat removal is a type of plastic surgery. It’s also known as a buccal lipectomy or cheek reduction surgery.

During the procedure, the buccal fat pads in your cheeks are surgically removed. This thins the cheeks and defines facial angles.

The surgery can be done alone or with another form of plastic surgery, such as:

chin implants
Who’s a good candidate for buccal fat removal?

You might be a good candidate for buccal fat removal if any of the following applies to you:

You’re in good physical health.You’re at a healthy weight.You have a round, fuller face.You dislike the fullness of your cheeks.You have pseudoherniation (small rounded fat mass in the cheek due to weak buccal fat pad).You have realistic expectations.You don’t smoke.

Buccal fat removal isn’t for everyone. It may not be recommended in the following scenarios:

You have progressive hemifacial atrophy (Parry-Romberg syndrome). This rare disorder causes skin on one side of the face to shrink. It’s known to affect the buccal fat pad.

A plastic surgeon is the best person to determine if you’re an ideal candidate.

What’s the procedure like?

Before the procedure

Before the procedure, you’ll talk to your plastic surgeon about your:

expectations and goalsmedical conditionscurrent medications, including vitamins and supplementsalcohol, tobacco, and drug usedrug allergiespast surgeries

This information allows your plastic surgeon to decide the best surgical approach as well as determine possible risks and recovery outlook.

You might need to stop taking some medications or get blood tests before the procedure.

Your plastic surgeon will also analyze your face and take pictures to plan the surgery.

During the procedure

The procedure may be done in a hospital or in a doctor’s office. Here’s what it usually involves:

Your surgeon will make an incision inside your cheek. They’ll place pressure on the outside of your cheek to further expose the buccal fat pad.Your surgeon will cut and remove the fat.

After the procedure

Before going home, you’ll be given a special mouthwash to prevent infection. Your provider will explain how to care for your incision.

You’ll need to eat a liquid diet for several days. You can then progress to soft foods before returning to your normal diet.

After the surgery, your face will be swollen and you may experience bruising. Both should diminish as you heal.

Full recovery usually takes about 3 weeks.

During recovery, follow your doctor’s directions for self-care and eating. Attend all of your followup appointments.

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You can expect to see results in several months. It takes time for your cheeks to settle into their new shape.