What is buccal fat removal? Why everyone in Hollywood is getting rid of their cheeks.

Move over BBL, there's a new procedure having *a moment* in Hollywood. 

In 2023, celebrities are removing their bum implants, dissolving their lip filler and getting rid of their cheeks. Yep, you read that right.

It's a treatment called buccal fat removal, and it's used to create the appearance of more streamlined cheekbones and a sharper jawline (if you read this article about the death of 'Instagram Face', you might already be across it.)

Chrissy Teigen's done it. And there's been speculation other celebrities - including Bella Hadid, Lea Michele and Sophie Turner - have too.

But what does it involve? And are there any risks?

Mamamia's Kelly McCarren spoke to plastic surgeon Dr Chris Moss on the You Beauty podcast to learn more about the procedure and why it suddenly seems to be everywhere.

Watch: 'I asked "The Doll Maker" what she'd do to my face'. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

So, what actually is buccal fat removal?

Let's start with the basics.

"Buccal fat removal is a surgical procedure done under anesthetic where you remove little, extra pockets of fat (known as buccal fat) on the sides of your cheeks," Dr Moss told Kelly.


It's done via making a small incision inside the mouth, just above the teeth.

"Then we very carefully remove the amount of excess fat," he said.

And the effects are permanent.

"If you go too far, you can't reverse it," Dr Moss said. "So, you have to know how much fat to come out and that's a matter for experience."

"You [need to] take out the amount to get rid of the extra fullness in the cheek, but not so much that you cause hollowing," he added.

Who is buccal fat removal suited for?

Good question.

"It's suited for people who've got excessively large buccal fat pads," the plastic surgeon said.

"Particularly people who have very full, rounded cheeks, or people who have bulges that are visible there."

Unlike other parts of our body where our fat fluctuates, the fat in our cheeks holds - and that's because it provides an important function.

"You need it there as sort of like a shock absorber to help with facial movements and chewing," he said.

Why is it suddenly gaining popularity?

Although the cosmetic treatment is trending now, Dr Moss says buccal fat removal is nothing new. In fact, it's a procedure he's been doing for over 20 years.


It's become more well-known now thanks to celebrities talking about it, and more mainstream coverage in the press.

"It's always been around. There's always been a need for it amongst people, but it's just become a lot more popular," he said.

Dr Moss believes it's also risen in popularity thanks to all of us spending more time looking at our faces - on social media and video conferencing apps like Zoom.

How much does buccal fat removal cost?

In short: $2,500 to $5,000.

But that depends on where you're getting it done - whether it's in a hospital and under anesthesia - and by whom.

"The most important thing is to make sure it's done correctly," Dr Moss said.

"If you get it wrong, the bad results are with you for a lifetime."

There are some ways to correct problems where people have had too much fat taken out -  like micro fat grafting - but it's not going to replace the buccal fat.

"It needs to be done right the first time," he said.

Listen to You Beauty, Mamamia's podcast for your face. Post continues after audio.

What's the downtime?

"It varies, but it can usually be just a few days," Dr Moss said.

Besides some bruising and swelling, "most people are fine to get back to work and their social activities in a week."


Why is the procedure controversial?

Some surgeons are against performing buccal fat removal on people they believe aren't in need of the surgery.

"Some people are doing this in excess; I've seen examples on social [media] of people taking too much out of their cheeks... If you want an abnormal amount of facial hollowing, that's a bad thing," Dr Moss said.

Although when done right, the procedure can help enhance the shape of the cheekbones and improve jawline definition, excessive fat removal can create a gaunt appearance, he warns.

And as you lose plumpness with age, that will hollow further.

There are alternatives you can consider that are effective but not as permanent, Dr Moss suggested.

"There's a lot of other procedures you can use to define the cheekbones and jawline," he said. 

"Filler, even micro fat grafting, which I think is a great natural tissue alternative."


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Feature image: Instagram?@chrissyteigen @leamichele

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