Something hollow this way comes – have you noticed the growing list of celebrities debuting sharper cheekbones? Buccal fat removal is a procedure taking the plastic surgery world by storm – you may be wondering what it actually entails, why so many are lining up for it and the risks involved. Let’s dive in.
What is buccal fat removal?
Buccal fat removal is a type of cosmetic surgery that involves taking fat from what’s known as the buccal fat pad – this is found in the cheeks.
Now the goal of the surgery is to create a thinner face and the appearance of more pronounced cheekbones. In order to remove the buccal fat, a surgeon cuts open the cheek – sounds delightful, doesn’t it? – and removes the amount requested by the patient. What’s left is the razor-sharp-cheekbones look made popular by Hollywood’s biggest names.
Why it’s trending now
Buccal fat removal is certainly not new, with uses dating back decades, but it’s the recent uptick in procedures that’s got many scratching their heads – and it’s not just the celebrities buying into it, though they are responsible for the wildfire spread of interest in the surgery across TikTok. Actors like Chrissy Teigen have gotten many talking with their procedure, throwing buccal fat removal into public discourse. The topic started trending on social media after Glee star Lea Michele was pictured looking unusually hollow-cheeked, leading many to speculate the actor had undergone buccal fat removal surgery – but this claim was denied. Nonetheless, it got people talking about the procedure.
Chrissy Teigen is another celebrity who’s trending on social media for her buccal fat removal – and she happens to be one of the few to openly discuss the experience. In her post to Instagram she said the following:
“Since I quit drinking, I’m really seeing the results, and I like it,” she said in her post.”
Photo Credit: @chrissyteigen on Instagram
The risks involved
Buccal fat surgery may be one of the quicker, less-invasive cosmetic procedures, as it can take just 30 minutes, but there are still the typical risks associated with surgery. This simply means that a trained surgeon should be the one to perform the removal as there are nerves and other vital parts in and around the buccal fat, so it’s important to prevent damage to these areas. The buccal nerve, for instance, is responsible for the movement of the mouth, along with sensation in the cheeks.
Another thing to note is that this surgery is permanent, so removing too much fat can cause a skeletal look that may be hard or expensive to change. There are options like skin grafting, but it’s certainly not a cheap route – and again, like any surgery, it comes with risks.
Just how expensive is buccal fat removal, you ask? Prepare for some eye watering here – it can cost anywhere from 2500 Australian dollars to somewhere in the 10,000s range. Yikes. It’s also worth noting that the fat in this area will naturally decrease with age, with a price tag of $0.00. Plus, research is lacking in the area in terms of long-term consequences of the procedure, so it might be worth reconsidering hopping aboard the trend before more information comes out around the future results. Another thing to note is that this surgery is permanent, so removing too much fat can cause a skeletal look that may be hard or expensive to change. There are options like skin grafting, but it’s certainly not a cheap route – and again, like any surgery, it comes with risks.
Just how expensive is buccal fat removal, you ask? Prepare for some eye watering here – it can cost anywhere from 2500 Australian dollars to somewhere in the 10,000s range. Yikes. It’s also worth noting that the fat in this area will naturally decrease with age, with a price tag of $0.00.
Unlike other surgeries that can be undone, buccal fat can permanently alter the way you look – and many may find that basing their appearance on this trend leaves room for regret. Not to mention, buccal fat provides support to our face and facial muscles, so it is a functional part of the body and not an inconsequential, appearance-based feature. We also just want to take a moment to note that faces come in all shapes and sizes – trends come and go, but your face and body type are not a commodity. We see a sharp incline in low self-esteem and poor body image among teenagers when features that come naturally are deemed “in” or “out” of style, along with the normalisation and commodification of cosmetic surgery. There is also research showing the widespread social media sharing of cosmetic surgery information and advertisements increases the desire to obtain surgery and decreases one’s satisfaction with their appearance.
Along with the rise in social media use, we’ve seen people of increasingly younger ages undergoing cosmetic surgery at a 17.2% higher rate between the years of 2014 and 2017 – with that number sure to have risen further by now. We’re seeing an increase in people wanting to make changes to features that previously were overlooked – and social media and celebrity culture have a big role to play in this trend.Contrary to what you may read on TikTok or what you may see in your favourite movies – there’s nothing wrong with having a fuller or slimmer face – or any other feature for that matter! Before undergoing a procedure like buccal fat removal, it’s worth unpacking the numerous risks involved and the ficklety of cosmetic trends, along with their widespread effects such trends can have on mental health – particularly in increasingly younger age groups.