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Cheeks make up most of the face. Certain people, based on genetic predisposition, tend to put on fat in and around their cheeks. This gives the common “baby fat” or chipmunk cheeks” look. Some people may find this look youthful, but others prefer a slimmer or more “V-shaped” face.
Buccal fat refers to the fat found around the bottom areas of the cheek. In a buccal fat removal procedure, the buccal fat pad (a naturally occurring pad of fat found around the cheek hollow) is removed. The size of the buccal fat pad varies greatly from individual to individual. After removal, the cheeks of the patient will generally become slimmer and more contoured.
In general, people who already have slim faces should not go for buccal fat removal. This is to avoid the risk of looking unhealthy and gaunt when they grow older.
While the idea of a slimmer face is attractive to many, not everyone is a great candidate for buccal fat removal. In fact, many people might get a natural-looking and slim face with a course of dieting and exercise.
Individuals who should consider buccal fat removal are generally people who have chubby looking cheeks even while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping their body fat percentage low.
In a buccal fat removal procedure, the patient is first anaesthetised. The choice of anaesthesia includes intravenous sedation and general anaesthesia.
After that, an incision is made at the area between the gums and the cheeks. This is all done inside the mouth, so there won’t be scarring on the face. This incision is meant to reveal the fascia and fibres of the patient’s cheek muscles.
The doctor then removes the buccal fat pad and use absorbable sutures in order to seal the wound.
Dr Samuel Ho performs this surgery under local anaesthesia and sedation. It takes 30 – 60 minutes to complete the entire surgery, which is a day surgery procedure. The buccal fat is removed with a 2cm intra-oral incision, which is sutured closed with absorbable sutures at the end. There is a compression dressing applied at the end, which is removed after 2 days to minimise the swelling and bruising. The only discomfort is a sensation of having 2 mouth ulcers for about 5-7days, as well as the avoidance of deep-fried, oily and spicy food for 1 week.
Buccal fat removal is permanent.
As you will need time to heal from the treatment, your doctor may require you to stay on a liquid diet for at least a few days. Also, your doctor will prescribe an antiseptic mouth wash for you to keep your oral cavity clear of bacteria.
A course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication will also be given in order to prevent infection.
While it will take several weeks to a month to fully heal from the surgery, most patients are able to return to week after about a week of recovery.