Plump cheeks can make your face look fat and ill-defined, even giving the impression that you're overweight when in fact you are at a healthy body weight. If you suffer from this problem, then a simple and safe procedure called bichectomy can give you the dramatic cheekbones and sculpted face you desire. Keep reading to learn how removal of the buccal fat pads (bichectomy) can give you thinner cheeks, more defined cheekbones, and a more elongated appearance to your facial profile.

What is a bichectomy or buccal fat removal?

Bichectomy is a cosmetic surgery that is done to recontour a round face by removing excess fat from the cheek region. It has been called a Hollywood cheek procedure in recent years because many celebrities have had bichectomy performed to correct a chubby face and obtain a leaner, more sculpted facial profile with a more youthful appearance.

The bichectomy procedure involves removing a collection of fat in the cheeks called the Bichat's fat pad. Bichat's fad pads have no specific purpose in adults (they are necessary for sucking and chewing in babies). While the fat in the cheeks is the same as fat everywhere else in the body, it is wrapped in a fibrous capsule. The capsule prevents the cheek fat from being metabolized. As a result, many people who are slim and have a lean figure find they are unable to get rid of the greater projection in the cheeks (chipmunk cheeks).

By partially removing the fat from the cheeks, bichectomy reduces the volume in the lower third of the face. The procedure adds definition and angulation to the facial profile, thus making the face more proportionate and aesthetically pleasing.

Who can have bichectomy? Is there an age limit for bichectomy surgery?

Bichectomy is a treatment option for men and women who want to reduce the roundness and fullness of their cheeks. The reason to have this surgery could be because the cheeks give a patient a weighty appearance or make them look fat. Therefore, the procedure is recommended for people who want slimmer cheeks and more sharply defined facial features with angulated cheekbones.

The procedure is performed in patients over the age of 18. Surgeons sometimes recommend waiting until a person is 20-25 years of age, at which time the fat in the cheeks becomes permanent.

How is a bichectomy done?

Cheek reduction surgery is performed by making a small incision inside the cheek and removing approximately half of the buccal fat pad on each side. The surgeon then closes the incisions with sutures. The 45-60 minute operation is a simple and painless outpatient procedure. It can be done under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. Because the fat is removed from inside the mouth, there is no external scarring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a bichectomy painful?

You won't feel any pain during the bichectomy procedure. There may be some post-surgical pain - this can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

What are the risks and complications of bichectomy surgery?

Like all surgical procedures, bichectomy is associated with possible risks of complications. These include facial infections, bleeding, poor wound healing, hematoma or seroma (blood or fluid collection), and anesthesia risks. There can also be numbness, prolonged swelling, and persistent pain after surgery. Risks that are specific to buccal fat pad removal include injury to a salivary duct, injury to the facial nerve resulting in temporary or permanent facial muscle weakness or paralysis, asymmetry, and possible dissatisfaction with the aesthetic results. You should follow your doctor's advice to avoid complications.

How long is the recovery period?

After the bichectomy procedure is performed, your doctor will be send you home with a chin strap for support You will also receive antibiotics and an antiseptic mouthwash to prevent infection of the incision sites.

You should be able to return to most normal activities almost immediately. However, there will be sutures (stitches) inside your mouth that will be removed after 5-7 days. You will need to be careful while your incisions heal. Take some time off work and get some rest. A soft diet consisting of cold foods is advised for the first three days.

Complete recovery after a bichectomy surgical procedure can take 10-14 days. There can be some lingering swelling and inflammation for 2-3 weeks after cheek surgery. The final results are usually visible after 3 weeks.

What are some tips for bichectomy recovery?

Placing ice packs on the cheeks can help reduce swelling externally. Drinking ice water can help reduce inflammation inside the mouth. Patients are advised to wear the chin strap support for 2 weeks after bichectomy. You should avoid touching the sutures inside your mouth with your tongue. A soft diet will help reduce the risk of the incisions reopening. Hot, spicy foods should be avoided as they can irritate the mouth. Smoking cessation is highly recommended. Cigarette smoke can irritate the incision sites and delay wound healing.

Am I a good candidate for removal of buccal fat pads?

A cosmetic or plastic surgeon will see you in office consultation to understand your aesthetic concerns and determine if you can benefit from bichectomy. Generally speaking, any patient who is in good general health, has realistic expectations from the procedure, and wishes to reduce the roundness or chubbiness of their cheeks is a good candidate for this type of cheek surgery.

How much does a bichectomy cost?

The cost of a bichectomy procedure depends on the skill level of the surgeon, the type of anesthesia used for the operation, and the area where you live. On average, buccal fat pad removal costs anywhere from $2,500 to $4,500.

Finding a surgeon for bichectomy cosmetic surgery

The skill and experience of your provider is a critical factor that will ensure a smooth and uneventful recovery from bichectomy surgery with the desired aesthetic results. The MeTime app makes it easy to find experienced cosmetic surgeons for bichectomy or cheek fat removal. You can chat with experts, send photos across, do a video consult, and book an office appointment when you're ready. Can't wait to get thinner cheeks and more sculpted cheekbones? Want more information? Download the MeTime app today.

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