Stay well padded: surgeons urge caution on cheek fat removal craze

Social Media Trend for Buccal Fat Surgery Warning

London – 12 June, 2023 – The British Association of Aesthetic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (BAPRAS has today urged caution regarding the latest trend for buccal (cheek) fat removal, which is being widely promoted through social media.

 Unlike many procedures which can be tweaked or even reversed, the quest for hollow or taut cheeks by having buccal fat surgically removed could potentially cause irreparable damage by harming nerves and glands under the skin, or even creating a gaunt look long-term as the face ages.

 Consultant plastic surgeon and BAPRAS spokesperson Monica Fawzy warns of a future epidemic of patients who will look older than their years, that will then need to heavily rely on regular filler injections or other treatments to restore the fat in their cheeks. Monica says;

“We’re going to end up with hordes of patients who look much older than they are because they’ve had irreversible facial surgery for fashion or social media craze reasons. There are many potential harms such as nerve damage or puncturing of the salivary glands, as well as a long-term aesthetic impact on ageing features.”

 Google search analyses show that demand for buccal fat removal has risen at least thirty-fold since December last year, with women seeking to emulate the angular facial appearance of supermodels such as Bella Hadid and Chrissy Teigen.

 Whilst the BAPRAS is not recommending outright that patients do not seek the procedure at all, surgeons urge caution. Monica continues;

“Operating too close to the facial nerve can lead to paralysis, so it is vital that it is done by experts in facial anatomy. Unfortunately, many of those doing these procedures have little experience of working with the face, so patients end up with complications.

 “Buccal fat is found underneath the cheekbones, and is responsible for the youthful ‘baby face’ – it is determined by genetics and is not something that can be generally altered with diet and exercise. Patients seeking this area to be more sculpted may have a buccal lipectomy (surgical removal of the fat) through a small incision, or can also be offered liposuction or fat-dissolving injections.

 “However, this fat will never grow back, and even if carried out perfectly, patients could develop early signs of ageing due to the lack of volume. You could end up with a gaunt, drooping look years earlier than you would have done naturally.”

 According to consultant plastic surgeon and BAPRAS President Mani Ragbir;

“Sadly in the UK, any cosmetic doctor can perform these procedures regardless of experience or qualifications. It is essential that patients seeking this treatment choose their practitioner wisely – in particular, those on the specialist registry for plastic surgery such as members of BAPRAS.”


Notes to Editors:

About the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS)

The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is the voice of plastic surgery in the UK, advancing education in all aspects of the specialty and promoting understanding of contemporary practice. BAPRAS speaks for the majority of reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgeons providing services to patients in the UK today. For more information visit or @BAPRASvoice on Twitter/Instagram.

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