Buccal fat pad removal, also known as a bichectomy (bichectomía in Spanish), is a popular and minimally invasive procedure that creates a slimming look by minimizing the appearance of “chubby cheeks” or “chipmunk cheeks” in the face. This cosmetic surgery is performed through a tiny incision in the mouth on the inside of the cheek, resulting in no visible scars after surgery. Performed by our highly skilled cosmetic surgeon, Joe Gryskiewicz, MD, buccal fat pad removal can enhance the appearance of high cheekbones and produce a more sculpted, chiseled look in the face.
Buccal fat pads are natural pockets of fat located in your cheeks. These pads were originally described by a physician named Bichat, hence they are also referred to by his name: “Bichat’s fat pads.” Buccal fat pads are typically larger during childhood and shrink with age over time. If these fat pads remain prominent into adulthood, they can give your cheeks an overly full or chubby appearance. Unlike fat in some other areas of the body, buccal fat pads tend to be resistant to dieting and exercise.
Recovery after buccal fat removal is associated with little pain, some swelling, and minimal bruising. Mild pain and discomfort usually only last a few days. Swelling often peaks on about the third day of recovery and continues to fade over the next 7 to 10 days. Buccal fat pad removal can offer immediate results after the short one-hour procedure.
Combining facial plastic surgery procedures can lead to a slightly longer period of swelling and/or healing. For instance, combining buccal fat pad removal with a chin implant or neck liposuction can add a few more days to your recovery.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved including pain, bleeding, infection, mild asymmetry, temporary numbness, and other complications; however, the chances of a major complication occurring is low as long as your plastic surgeon is well-trained. Buccal fat pad removal is considered a safe, one-hour procedure that can be performed in-office under local anesthesia, such as Novocaine®, or general anesthesia for patients who prefer to be completely unconscious.
Unfortunately, there is no non-surgical treatment or med spa service that can remove the buccal fat pads. Lasers, injections, and facial exercises will not help reduce buccal fat pads in the cheeks, and no other alternatives exist that can produce results comparable to surgical fat pad removal.
Some patients may only need buccal fat pad removal to achieve an improved facial contour. Other individuals may require neck liposuction, a neck lift, dermal fillers in the jawline, or chin augmentation to achieve a chiseled and desirable facial appearance. If there is facial fat below the jawline (i.e. a double chin) then we may recommend combining buccal fat pad removal with neck liposuction or a mini neck lift. A procedure involving neck liposuction/mini neck lift surgery combined with buccal fat pad removal is sometimes referred to as a Selfielift™. Increased interest in “selfies” has been very popular in social media and looking “good” continues to be a priority in today’s world.
There are certain patients who only have fullness in their cheeks toward the front of their face. In this case, buccal fat pad removal can be a great treatment option. If you desire facial slimming but also have fullness towards the back of the jaw, then a procedure known as masseter BOTOX® Cosmetic injections can easily help shrink this area. This typically requires 25 units of BOTOX® Cosmetic or Jeuveau® on each side of the face.
A buccal fat pad removal procedure typically costs between $2,500 and $4,000; however, this price may vary based on your specific needs. Each operation is customized to address your concerns and achieve your unique goals. Immediately following your virtual consultation or in-office evaluation, our patient care coordinator will provide you with a personalized quote. To make it easier for patients to pursue their procedure of choice while managing the costs of surgery, we accept plastic surgery financing from qualified patients via companies such as CareCredit® or ALPHAEON™ Credit. Buccal fat removal is a cosmetic procedure that is not covered by medical insurance.