Washington cosmetic surgery patients often ask for liposuction of the face and cheeks when they think they have too much fat. Liposuction is a great option for the neck and jowls. However, liposuction is not a good option for the face or cheeks. Liposuction works better for large, broad regions, such as the neck, abdomen, and thighs. Liposuction doesn’t work as well for small areas of excess fat, such as the face and cheeks. Plastic surgery with fat reduction is normally a better option for these smaller areas, with lower risk and more natural results.
Patients who report excess facial fat will often point to their mid cheeks. These patients have persistent pockets of fat in the middle region of the face, also known as the buccal fat pad or deep cheek fat, regardless of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some are born with more buccal fat than others. Gently sucking in the cheeks can partially simulate results of buccal fat reduction. This pocket of fat doesn’t fluctuate except under certain circumstances, such as extreme (ie. unhealthy) diet and exercise, specific medications, or medical conditions. The buccal fat can descend with age and contribute to jowls in older patients.
Reducing facial fat may require plastic surgery on focused areas. – Houtan Chaboki, MD
Plastic surgeons’ preferred method for facial fat reduction is surgery. Buccal fat reduction normally takes less than an hour and is performed via IV sedation or general anesthesia. Small incisions are placed inside the mouth to access and reduce the buccal fat. Results can be seen immediately during the operation. However, due to swelling and the healing process, patients may appreciate results after several weeks. Typical results after buccal fat reduction are subtle and develop over time.
Other patients who complain of excess fat may have a small chin, large jaw muscles, flat cheek bones, or a combination of these factors. Treatments such as Botox® jaw reduction or chin augmentation are more appropriate than facial fat reduction surgery. These ancillary procedures help sculpt the face to be more balanced and proportionate.
For patients considering buccal fat reduction, several factors will help determine the best plastic surgery appropriate for them. Analysis of the face and anatomic structure are an important part of a plastic surgery consultation. In addition, patient preference, recovery time, budget, and medical conditions also influence the best plastic surgery option for each patient. For example, Dr. Chaboki may offer a trial of Botox® jaw reduction first before buccal fat reduction plastic surgery. In addition, computer simulation can help patients determine if they are a chin augmentation candidate.
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