All About Buccal Fat Removal (cheek reduction surgery)

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on June 26, 2014 8 Comments

cheek reduction surgery

Discussion of aesthetic procedures for the cheeks tends to focus on adding volume. However, there are a number of people who through weight gain or other genetic factors have issues stemming from overly large cheeks.

The first step of treatment is proper diagnosis. A surgeon must first assess if the cause of excess cheek volume stems from a genetic influence or from aging, which tend to affect the jowels. In the latter case a facelift procedure would be more appropriate.

However if the patient is younger and doesn’t exhibit other signs of significant aging, the cause of overly large cheeks is likely excess fat under the skin or overly large buccal fat pads (or a combination of both issues).

There are two distinct issues that result in overly chubby cheeks: the lower submalar (which is subcutaneous fat) and the upper submalar (where the buccal fat pad resides).

Correcting Lower Submalar Issues

Liposuction performed with a very small cannula from the corners of the mouth can correct lower submalar issues. Similar to traditional liposuction, a skilled physician can suction out targeted excess fat to provide the desired look.

Correcting Upper Submalar Issues

A buccal lipectomy can reduce the buccal pad, correcting upper submalar related issues. During this procedure small incisions are made in the mouth and deep excess fat is surgically excised. There are no visible scars and the recovery period is short.

Removing the Appropriate Quantity of Fat

A natural component of facial aging is the reduction of cheek volume in both upper and lower submalar areas.  Individuals age at their own rate dependent on genetics, heredity, and external factors like smoking, excessive UV exposure, and alcohol consumption. It is important to have a solid understanding of this aging process, as removing too much fatty tissue can result in premature aging. Additionally, uneven removal can affect facial symmetry which is a crucial factor in the overall aesthetic of the face.

Interested in reducing the size of your “chubby cheeks”? Contact us today for a free consultation.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

8 Responses to “All About Buccal Fat Removal (cheek reduction surgery)”

  1. Avatar Janet says:

    Is liposuction of the cheeks possible?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Janet, Thanks for reading our blog and submitting your question. Liposuction is a great treatment for the cheek area, especially if the patient is looking to remove a relatively small amount of fat. The best treatment will depend on the characteristics of the patient and their desired goal.

      Please let us know if you have any additional questions or if you would like a free consultation!

      WD Staff

  2. Avatar Tatiana says:

    I’m very VERY interested in buccal fat removal surgery but I have really low tolerance for pain and local anesthesia usually doesn’t do anything for me. Is it possible to be completely put to sleep for this process?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Tatiana, thanks for submitting your question!

      The concern over pain/anesthesia is quite common of perspective patients. While it may be possible the procedure to be done under general anesthesia (with you “completely under”), we would probably encourage you to think about Twilight Anesthesia instead (read more on that here:

      We feel that twilight anesthesia (combined with local anesthetic) is just as effective in terms of blocking pain while being a safer option.

      Please contact our office today at 512.328.3376 for more information!

      Thanks again,
      WD Staff

  3. Avatar Gary says:

    I’ve never heard about this type of procedure before. Is it the same think as liposuction? It sounds like it could be a good option for people wanting to get rid of some of the fat from their face to get them the look they want, like you said. I’m sure my wife will want to learn more about this. She’s been looking into different types of cosmetic procedures.

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Gary, thanks for reading our post and for submitting your question. In some cases the excess fat can be removed by liposuction. However, if the issue is an abundance of under-the-muscle tissue it may require surgical excision.

      Please let you wife know that she can give us a call to setup a free consultation!

      WD Staff

  4. Avatar Elle says:

    Hello! I’m in my mid 40s and am not overweight but have naturally chubby cheeks unless I loose an excess amount of weight, which I’m not necessarily interested in. I am starting to have some sagging but am not sure if I should entertain fillers. So yes, I have chubby cheeks, not much definition, and am beginning to have some sagging. Thoughts or recommendations?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Elle

      Thanks for sharing that great comment! As always, the best way to determine the best course of treatment would be to have you come in for an in-person assessment. It’s really the only way to come up with a proper treatment plan.

      With that caveat, it sounds like fillers may be a good option for the issues you stated. In cases with minor sagging, filler can be used to add definition.

      But again, an in-person consultation would be needed to make sure its the right route.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

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