Buccal fat removal, a cheek-chiselling plastic surgery treatment, is the latest Hollywood aesthetic trend. The result is hard to miss: a person’s chin and jawline are made razor sharp and their cheekbones are defined.
While face contouring has long been a popular look often achieved by using makeup, think of buccal fat removal as a way of making the temporary illusion of contouring completely permanent.
Social media users continually speculate about which celebrities have undergone the procedure, with none, apart from Chrissy Teigen publicly confirming they received the treatment.
Posting on her Instagram Stories in 2021, the model shared a video sharing she had the surgery.
“I did that Dr Diamond buccal fat removal thing here,” she said in the video, “and I’m really seeing the results, and I like it.”
What is buccal fat and where is it?
We all have buccal fat. It’s a pad of very normal flesh found in between your cheekbones (known as your zygomatic arch) and your jawline.
What is buccal fat removal?
Its removal happens through a surgical operation, with a doctor going into a patient’s mouth and extracting the fat from the cheeks from the inside out.
Since the surgery happens internally in the mouth, it leaves behind no marks or scarring on the face itself. The treatment is also purely aesthetical – there are no health benefits to removing your buccal fat.
What do experts think of buccal fat removal?
Plastic surgeon Dr Yannis Alexandrides, the founder of 111 Harley Street clinic, told The Independent in December that doctors at his practice have performed 99 buccal fat procedures between 2020 and 2022, with 67 per cent of clients being women, and 33 per cent being men.
He explained that some people who feel they have a “baby face” as adults can be “good candidates for buccal fat removal”, and that many clients have been influenced by beauty trends in popular culture.
Dr Tunc Tiryaki, a consultant plastic surgeon at London’s Cadogan Clinic, however, told The Independent that buccal fat removal is the “wrong treatment” for achieving a defined face. He does not offer the treatment to his clients.
“Buccal fat removal doesn’t create definition, it just creates emptiness between the cheek and the jawline,” he said, adding that the effects of ageing already leads to the natural loss of collagen.
“In the long run, when we get older, we lose volume in our cheeks,” Dr Tiryaki said. “So patients start looking really gaunt, almost like ghosts. I wouldn’t recommend buccal fat removal to a patient trying to shape their face.”
Dr Tiryaki said that interactive facial filters on apps such as Instagram or Snapchat might be behind the buccal fat removal boom, which adds to the increasing popularity of looking chiselled.
“All filters are designed to make your face look ‘V shaped’ and more defined,” he says. “When you come back to reality, of course, this doesn’t correspond with our real anatomy.”
How do you pronounce buccal fat removal?
The word “buccal” is pronounced like “buckle”.