By Dr. Philip Solomon & Nancie Heiber
Buccal Fat Removal is a cosmetic procedure that has been trending on social media and in the mainstream media as celebrities share their experience with this very interesting procedure. Here’s what Dr. Philip Solomon MD, FRCSC, Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgeon, practicing Facial Plastic Surgery in Toronto, told us about its popularity and what it entails.
Living Luxe: We’ve been hearing about Buccal Fat Removal, but what is it?
Dr. Philip Solomon: Buccal Fat Removal is a minor cosmetic procedure that can help slim the lower half of the face by removing the anatomical fat pad located in the lower cheek. This helps reduce the fullness in the lower cheeks (mid-face) and can take a round child-like or cherub-shaped face and transform it into a heart shape. This is a purely a cosmetic procedure that can give a little confidence boost.
Buccal Fat Removal is most popular among women who are looking for facial contouring and chiselled cheekbones, however, we do see men for this procedure as well. While it has been given heightened attention on social media, it’s not a new procedure. Something important to note is that not all cosmetic surgeons perform this procedure. When I started my career more than 20 years ago, there were very few surgeons in Toronto offering Buccal Fat Removal. Therefore, choosing an experienced surgeon is very important.
Living Luxe: Who is a good candidate for this procedure?
Dr. Philip Solomon: Like all cosmetic procedures, patient selection is critical. The most ideal candidate ranges in age from late teens to mid-30s who have significant facial fullness and reasonable expectations. As a surgeon, I must ensure we take out the precise amount of fat from the face — taking too little won’t achieve the desired result, and taking too much can have adverse effects, potentially causing people to look hollowed or gaunt as they age. What’s interesting about buccal fat is that it typically doesn’t respond to exercise or dieting — it’s completely hereditary, therefore surgically removing it can be a very appealing option. Buccal Fat Removal is also reasonably priced in Canada ranging from $3,000 to $5,000.
Living Luxe: What does the procedure entails?
Dr. Philip Solomon: It’s a pretty straightforward procedure performed under local anesthesia in about 20 minutes. We make a small incision in the inner cheeks (leaving no external scars), and we gently tease the fat out. (The amount can range in size, but on average, we remove about the size of a cherry tomato.) We only take out the excess and we use our judgement based on anatomy and age. Because the treatment site is within range of facial nerves, you need an experienced surgeon performing this procedure. Once the fat is removed, the results are permanent, and fat does not grow back in this area of the body. Patients love the fact that there is minimal downtime and just some minor swelling, so they typically only need to take a few days off work. Patients should see their final results within three to four months.
Living Luxe: Is this procedure typically done on its own or in conjunction with other procedures?
Dr. Philip Solomon: Buccal Fat Removal is often performed as an independent procedure but can accompany other facial-slimming procedures such as neck liposuction, neurotoxin to address the masseter muscles and/or an energy device that uses bipolar radio frequency to slim the jawline and lower face.
We also have a demographic of patients in their 40s and 50s who want to incorporate Buccal Fat Removal with their Facelift surgery to achieve a more “snatched” look, after having lived decades with fulsome cheeks. In these cases, we can extract the buccal fat and discard it, or, if needed, we can make a graft and inject it into the upper cheeks to add volume and create a youthful heart shaped appearance.