Here’s How To Get Rid Of “Chipmunk Cheeks” According To The Expert

Dr. Lucas Bryant of REFINE | Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics™ in Nashville, TN is a board-certified head and neck surgeon and fellowship-trained exclusively in cosmetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgery. Haute Beauty chats with Dr. Bryant on Buccal Fat Removal and how it helps to get rid of the appearance of "chipmunk cheeks."

HB: What is the process of Buccal fat removal? 

In my office near Nashville, buccal fat removal is a relatively short procedure. It is typically done as a quick, “in and out” office procedure under local anesthesia. A small incision is made inside your mouth on each cheek. The procedure can also be done with other treatments such as rhinoplasty, a facelift, FaceTite or filler treatments. Because there are no incisions on the skin, it is surprisingly painless and there’s no scar. Depending on the method used, you may have 1 or two small absorbable sutures placed inside the cheek.

HB: Who is a good candidate for this procedure?

Buccal fat removal treats a very specific concern. The procedure helps define the jawline and cheek contours without the problems of volume overload sometimes seen with filler treatments. It’s really best for patients who are a little more “cheeky” than they want to be. The common phrase patients use to describe their concern is “chipmunk cheeks”. If someone has a very thin face, or most of their issues are related to the fat layer just below the skin (subcutaneous fat), this may not be the best treatment option. If you’re not sure, this can be easily cleared up during consultation. 

HB: What does recovery look like?

If only Buccal fat pad reduction is performed, patients can expect some moderate cheek soreness and possibly discomfort while chewing for a few days. You might notice an increase in cheek fullness as a swelling reaction from surgery for a few days. This swelling slowly subsides and after a couple weeks you can start to see the changes in cheek contour. I usually say not to expect the full result until closer to 3 months after treatment. While you can often resume light social activity in a day or two, I would not do this procedure right before a major social or life event.

HB: Do men also benefit from this procedure?

YES! Since buccal fat pad reduction is designed to sculpt and re-shape the mid-face and cheeks, it can work for many or women with this concern. The real secret to success is working with someone who is honest about the treatment options that are the best fit for your concerns.

HB: How are results best maintained?

Once the treatment is completed, the most important thing for patients to do is avoid straining  themselves too much during the first few days. I usually recommend avoiding heavy exercise for about 10-14 days to prevent  bruising and prolonged swelling. Besides that, there’s not usually any significant after care you have to worry about other than basic oral hygeine.  We try and make sure everything is seamless, safe, and simple.

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