Home » Plastic Surgery Procedures and Treatments for the Face » Buccal Fat Removal
Many people may consider full and round cheeks as an attractive or even youthful attribute. For some people, their full cheeks have a negative effect on their appearance and their ability to be taken seriously. They have spent their lives being called “chipmunk cheeks.” Many people with full cheeks are hesitant to smile or laugh because they feel their full cheeks make their eyes disappear and make the face look fat.People living with these problems often experience low self-confidence, dissatisfaction with their appearance and a decreased ability to freely express themselves and their emotions. These problems can lead to a decreased quality of life and low self-esteem.
Buccal fat removal is a cosmetic surgery option that can help people get rid of their full cheeks, get a thinner face and gain a higher sense of satisfaction with their appearance. Dr. George Bitar & Dr. Larry Lickstein offer this procedure at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Fairfax and Manassas, VA for patients who are interested in reshaping their cheeks to get a slimmer, sleeker look.
|Pain Level After Surgery||Mild-Moderate|
|Anesthesia||General or local with sedation|
|Duration of Surgery||1 – 1.5 hour|
|Final Results||6-12 months|
|Return to regular activity||1 week|
|Resume Exercise||2-4 weeks|
While each patient’s experience and reasons for undergoing elective surgery are unique, there are some commonalities among patients who decide to have buccal fat removal performed. These include feeling self-conscious about their appearance, being teased and called unflattering names throughout childhood and sometimes even into adulthood. They often feel that their full cheeks make them look fat or childish.
Whatever your personal experiences and reasons behind considering the surgery are, Dr. Bitar & Dr. Lickstein will work with you to understand your goals and help you decide if the procedure is the best option for you. They will do a thorough and complete consultation with you so you will understand all the options open to you and what kind of results you can realistically expect.
For many patients, the procedure results in increased confidence, happiness with their appearance, feeling they can easily smile, laugh and express themselves and a major improvement in their quality and enjoyment of life.
Good candidates for the buccal fat removal procedure will meet the following requirements:
The best way to find out if you are a good candidate and if buccal fat removal is the best option for you is to make an appointment with Dr. Bitar & Dr. Lickstein to discuss your options and goals.
The fat that lies beneath the cheeks is called buccal fat. The buccal fat removal procedure is designed to surgically and permanently remove excess fat from the cheek area to give the patient a thinner, more defined cheek and face. The procedure eliminates excessive roundness or fullness in the cheek area and can help patients get a more balanced and symmetrical facial shape.
We believe a well-prepared patient leads to a successful surgery and recovery. Whether you are flying in internationally or a local, our staff strives to give you a great experience. During your initial call to our office, one of our patient care coordinators will discuss the different options available to improve the areas of your concern. A consultation is scheduled with the doctor who best fits your personal situation. The doctor will review your medical history, spend the appropriate time to review all surgical and non-surgical options, and discuss whether surgery can be performed in-office under local sedation or at the hospital under general anesthesia. In sharing our before and after photos, you get a better sense in the quality of surgery our doctors offer and what outcome you can expect to achieve. We will review pre- and post-operative care so you can be prepared for what your role is in surgery. You will be asked to stop smoking two weeks prior to and post-surgery. Safety is our top priority, so we will ask you to see your primary care physician to perform a physical exam, lab work and, in some patients, an EKG or Mammogram 30 days prior to surgery. Next, we see you for a pre-op appointment two weeks prior to surgery to discuss any questions you may have and review surgery details, ensuring everyone is on the same page. You will then receive a courtesy call the evening before surgery to review instructions and any questions you may have.
The procedure is short, lasting about an hour, and is usually performed on an outpatient basis with the patient under local anesthesia.
Once local anesthesia is administered, the cheek area will be numb and the patient will not feel the pain. Dr. Bitar will make an incision between the cheek and gums starting in the back of the mouth just above the upper molars. The incision is between 2 and 3 centimeters long and exposes the fibers and fascia of the buccinator muscles, the major muscles of the cheeks. Once the muscle is exposed, Dr. Bitar & Dr. Lickstein will apply pressure to the external cheekbone, the pressure forces the buccal fat to protrude from the incision so it can be pulled out with tweezers or forceps. When the correct amount of fat has been removed to produce your desired results, Dr. Bitar will close the incision.
While facial liposuction can also be employed to remove fat from the cheek area, this method of buccal fat removal results in a slimmer face without tell tale of surgical incisions or permanent, visible scarring to the face and is usually the most aesthetically pleasing and preferred method by doctors and patients alike.
Our office will provide a comprehensive post-operative plan to ensure the best possible outcome. The plan will include what to expect postoperatively, such as estimated recovery time, pain management, garments or dressings, and anticipated activity level. For your safety, we require that an adult stay with you at least the first 24 hours after surgery and drives you to your next day follow-up visit. With most facial procedures, you will be instructed to limit activity for the first week or two, which could include restrictions on driving, prolonged travel and flying. In addition, we ask you refrain from exercise until cleared by the physician, usually around four weeks post-op. You are asked to refrain from smoking for a minimum of two weeks. To optimize healing, we recommend that you eat a high protein diet. You should anticipate a variable degree of bruising and swelling, as with any surgical procedure; light make-up may be used to cover bruises starting a week after surgery. We also offer scar creams at an additional cost to optimize results.
To promote healing and minimize complications, you will be seen in a series of post-op appointments, including the day after surgery. These appointments will continue throughout the first year after the procedure to make sure you are healing as planned. For your added convenience, you also have direct access to Dr. Bitar’s and Dr. Lickstein’s cell phone numbers if you need to reach your physician after hours. The final post-op visit, one year after surgery, is one of our favorites since the results are fully apparent and we love seeing our patients happy. You are always welcome to come back and see us, even years after your surgery.
At the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, we take pride in providing our patients with the best surgical experience possible, emphasizing patient safety while trying to optimize surgical results. This is a process that includes comprehensive pre-operative preparation and patient education, the development of a personalized operative plan, and a thoughtful post operative care regimen emphasizing patient comfort and promoting recovery.
There are a number of strategies which the Institute has adapted to further ensure patient safety. We are selective and only offer surgery to patients whose general health and lifestyle choices permit healing and facilitate recovery. To minimize risk, we require a preoperative assessment that includes a thoughtful history and physical exam, as well as targeted laboratory tests.
We operate at accredited hospitals and surgicenters that have demonstrated a commitment to the highest standards of care, employing board certified anesthesiologists and nurses. We adhere to well established surgical principles designed to ensure patient safety and have developed policies and protocols to minimize the risk of infection. Our surgeons are committed to continuing education, honing their skills and introducing new techniques always with the aim of improving safety and surgical results.
We emphasize patient safety in our peri-operative care plan, advocating early mobilization, optimizing nutrition, and providing detailed care instructions. After surgery, patients are seen in our office frequently and early, starting the day after their procedure, and a staff member is available around the clock for any questions or concerns. Our entire team is committed to our patients’ well being and every measure is designed to minimize potential complications, promote comfortable and rapid recovery, and optimize surgical results.
How long will the procedure last?
While the surgery itself takes about an hour, it can take up to four months to see the final results of the procedure. Once it is done, the operation provides permanent results.
What can I expect after the procedure?
There will be some pain, discomfort, numbness, swelling and difficulty eating for a few days or a week after the surgery.
Once these past operation symptoms subside, though, you can expect more defined, thinner cheeks and an increases in your self esteem, self confidence and happiness with your smile and facial appearance.
Are there risks?
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with buccal fat removal. These include infection, adverse reaction to the anesthesia and a lasting numbness or loss of sensation where the surgical incisions were made, in the central cheek area or in the jawline.
Additionally, the face tends to thin out on its own during the mid to late twenties. Patients who are considering having the procedure performed before reaching the age of 25 or older should take into account the natural fat loss that will occur as they age. If cheek fat is removed and the fat loss that accompanies age naturally happens years after the surgery, the patient can end up looking gaunt. Patients should take genetics into consideration and see if full or fat cheeks run in the family before undergoing the treatment at an early age. Once fat is removed from the skin membrane using the buccal fat removal process, it cannot be replaced.
How soon can I return to work?
Most patients experience swelling, discomfort, pain and difficulty eating for a few days and up to a week. Following the post-surgery instructions closely is the best way to minimize discomfort and speed the healing process. Most patients are able to return to work without any problems one week after the procedure.
You deserve to be happy with yourself, to feel free to express yourself and to freely share your laugh and smile with the world. If full cheeks are holding you back from enjoying these things, buccal fat removal may be a good option for you to explore. If you’re interested in learning more about buccal fat removal and how it can help you improve your confidence and enhance your appearance, call 703-206-0506 today to schedule a consultation.
Our commitment to excellence and exceptional patient care is in every step of your doctor-patient experience. Dr. George Bitar and Dr. Larry Lickstein are distinguished board certified plastic surgeons, with over 30 years of combined experience, who exclusively perform cosmetic surgery. Our doctors stay on the cutting edge of advancements in cosmetic surgery and technology to offer the best possible results. With a blend of artistry and meticulous surgical technique, they are able to achieve beautiful and natural results for our patients. We provide a high level of patient safety and our experienced and caring staff will be with you every step of the way. Our institute offers a wide variety of surgical and non-surgical options, from skin care, injectables and lasers to in-office or hospital options, to provide a versatile approach to fit individual patient needs. Your aesthetic goals are our priority and each procedure is customized to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.
For more information, call our office at 703-206-0506.
Content on this website is for information only and should not be used to diagnose or treat your plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery problems. Please contact your plastic surgeon with all questions and concerns.