Buccal fat pad removal is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure performed to reduce the appearance of chubby cheeks in adults. Also known as cheek reduction surgery and partial buccal lipectomy, this procedure removes part of the buccal fat pads from the cheeks to create a more contoured appearance.

As one of the leading providers of buccal fat removal in Houston, Texas, our team at Memorial Plastic Surgery, led by facial plastic surgeon Dr. Tyler McElwee, has met many patients who have experienced several benefits after the procedure, including:

  • Reduction in the volume of the mid and lower cheek
  • More defined cheekbone
  • Triangulating the shape of the face
  • Creation of a slimmer, narrower facial contour
  • Reduction of plumpness of the face
  • More defined jawline in men
  • A more defined lower facial contour in women
  • Improvement in facial harmony
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Cheek reduction is customized for every patient. This procedure is suitable for a healthy adult with chubby cheeks, but a treatment plan can only be established after an initial consultation with our doctors.

Real Patient Buccal Fat Removal Results

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The goal of buccal fat removal is to create a contoured and slimmer facial profile, without it looking excessively thin and unhealthy. Individuals who are older and show developing signs of facial aging may not be able to fully achieve the desired result of cheek reduction surgery, because their skin is beginning to naturally sag. During consultations, our doctors will be able to establish if this is the best procedure for the patient as well as to give a realistic view of the results that they can expect.

The appropriate candidate for buccal fat removal is potentially a person who:

  • Has chubby or puffy cheeks
  • Has a convex appearance on the cheeks
  • Minimal skin laxity or other effects of aging

As with any surgical procedure, it is important that the patient:

  • Is in good physical condition and has no pre-existing medical condition
  • Has a stable weight or is close to their ideal weight
  • Is a non-smoker or can stop smoking in preparation for the procedure


During buccal fat pad removal, only the excess fat tissue is removed, preserving enough fat to ensure smooth and natural facial contour, preventing the patient from looking gaunt, or too skinny, after the procedure. Also, the results of the surgery will be affected if the patient gains weight. Younger patients typically have more volume in their faces, thus it may be beneficial to have a greater amount of buccal fat removed, although this approach is highly individualized.

Buccal fat removal is a minimally invasive procedure that is usually completed within an hour. The entire procedure is performed from inside the mouth; no incisions are made on the face. Local or general anesthesia is administered before the procedure, depending on the patient’s preference.

The procedure begins with our surgeon removing a portion of the buccal fat pad through a small incision above the upper molars, spreading through the cheek muscles, and applying gentle pressure externally to remove the exact amount of fat needed to contour the face.

The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures to allow for proper healing. Buccal fat pad removal can be combined with other procedures that help rejuvenate the face, such as neck or chin liposuction and rhinoplasty.


The cost of Buccal Fat Removal in Houston ranges from $4,000 – $4,500+ inclusive of anesthesia, facility fees, and follow-up consultations. The final cost will depend on several additional factors including your surgeon and surgery location of choice. Our patient care coordinators can walk you through your options and provide you with a more detailed quote during your initial consultation.

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This procedure causes very little downtime for most patients. Many patients can return to work a few days after the procedure. However, more strenuous activities are recommended to be resumed after 7 days, provided that our doctors give all the clear.

After the procedure, our doctors provide instructions for post-operative care and prescribe medications to be taken during the recovery period. Patients are instructed to follow a soft or liquid diet for the first week after the surgery. A mouth rinse after every meal is recommended to reduce the risk of infection. We also advise patients to sleep on their backs for at least 3 – 5 days to allow for proper healing.

The face may swell for a few weeks after the procedure, and a garment is provided for the first week. Once the swelling has subsided, patients can see the final results of the surgery, with cheeks looking thinner and more contoured.

Finally, follow-up appointments are scheduled to ensure that the patient is healing without any complications.

The following table gives a brief overview of the recovery timeline after buccal fat removal:

Swelling 2 – 3 weeks
Soft or semi-liquid diet 1 week
Light activities (chores, work, mild exercise) Immediate
Heavy exercise 7 days, or on the recommendation of the surgeon


What are buccal fat pads?

facial muscles in the hollow areas below the cheekbone. Buccal fat pads are normal and everyone has them, but their size varies. Because they make the cheeks look more rounded, they are the reason people have a “baby face” appearance. And while a soft and round face is often associated with looking more youthful, it is possible for a person to feel that their cheeks are too full, leading to lower self-confidence.

Before patients undergo buccal fat removal, they will have an initial consultation with one of our surgeons at Memorial Plastic Surgery. At this time, our surgeons will assess the patient’s overall health and learn about their goals in terms of the results they expect to see after surgery.

Potentially, patients with round cheeks will be approved for this procedure. For individuals with naturally narrow or thin faces, the surgery may cause damage to the cheeks, as the extreme loss of fat and collagen in the cheeks will make them look even more gaunt.

Before buccal fat removal, patients are advised to stop smoking at least four weeks beforehand and not to drink alcohol for at least two days before the surgery. They must also refrain from taking aspirin or similar medications for at least two weeks prior to the procedure.

Swelling after buccal fat removal is minimal because the procedure is performed in the mouth. No incisions are made on the cheeks.

After the procedure, our surgeons provide a set of post-operative care instructions for the patient to follow at home, as well as a face wrap. We usually recommend applying an ice pack on the outside of the cheeks near the surgical area for the first 48 – 72 hours after surgery. Intermittent application of the ice pack every 15 minutes will help reduce swelling.

After surgery, a face wrap is worn on the first 7 days after the procedure to ensure the best possible results. Follow-up appointments with our surgeons can determine if the wrap needs to be worn longer or if it can already be removed.

Buccal fat removal is considered a cosmetic procedure and is therefore not covered by health insurance.

*The content and images on this page are provided with the sole intention of educating potential patients on the procedure discussed above. Results vary per individual and are dependent on our doctor’s consultation prior to the procedure. We strongly recommend undergoing a formal consultation with a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon prior to scheduling and undergoing any surgical or non-surgical treatment.