Cheekbone reduction is a surgical procedure where bone is removed from the face. Cheek reduction, also known as buccal fat reduction, is a surgical procedure where fat is removed from the cheeks. Both women and men are suitable candidates for these procedures.

Fast Facts

  • Cheek reduction is often performed in conjunction with other surgical procedures for the face, such as nose surgery (rhinoplasty) or chin augmentation.
  • There are two ways that cheeks can be reduced: removing the fat pads covering the cheeks and side of the face, or shaving off a small layer of the cheekbone.
  • You can expect to be back to work and most normal activities about a week after a cheek reduction procedure.

Reasons for choosing to have cheek reduction

Even though it’s currently desirable to have highly defined cheeks, overly prominent cheeks can create a masculine, harsh look to the face. If you have cheeks that are chubby and under defined, you may feel you look like a chipmunk. A balanced proportion of nose, cheek and chin creates a much more subtle look.

This surgical procedure is becoming increasingly popular amongst people of Asian descent who sometimes feel that their mid-face area looks too full.

Things to consider once you’ve decided to have cheek reduction

Cheek reduction is often performed in conjunction with other surgical procedures for the face, such as nose surgery (rhinoplasty) or chin augmentation. These are all procedures aimed at balancing the face. If you are considering facial surgery and the recovery time that goes with it, consider a combination of procedures to reshape your face.

It is important to understand that as you age you may lose fat on your face, possibly causing you to look gaunt. If you have fat removed from your cheek area and then put on weight, your cheeks may return to the way they looked before the surgery. It is impossible to know exactly what we’ll look like when we get older, but a good indication is to look at how our parents have aged.

There are two ways the cheeks can be reduced: removing the fat pads covering the cheeks and side of the face, or shaving off a small layer of the cheekbone. Your surgeon can advise you on the best solution for you after examining your face and working with you on the outcome you want to achieve.

What to expect

Whether you choose to have fat or bone removed from the cheeks will determine the length of time this procedure takes. Surgery is performed in a hospital or clinic under anaesthesia. Mostly it’s performed on an outpatient basis, which means you are released to go home after the effects of the anaesthesia wear off.

During surgery an incision is made inside the mouth between the gums and cheeks, through which the surgeon can remove fat or shave the cheekbones. The excess fat or bone can then be removed through these incisions. If an endoscope is used, the incisions will be very small.

Before and after surgery

There are things you can do leading up to any kind of surgery to improve the experience. There are also a number of things you can do following any surgery.

After your cheek reduction procedure, if you have an incision inside your mouth you must keep it clean. Your surgeon may ask you to do a salt rinse several times a day. You will also need to keep your face still for at least a week following the surgery. After the first week you can gradually and gently begin to move your face.

Swelling and bruising are common after surgery but they should start to disappear after about two weeks following surgery. Itching is also common as nerve endings are inevitably cut. The itching will resolve as the nerves regenerate.

Even though the scars from this procedure are mostly hidden in the mouth, make sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions on scar healing treatments. You will notice some tightness in your face, but it will subside after about a week.

You can expect to be back to work and most normal activities about a week after a cheek reduction procedure. More strenuous activity, such as exercise, can be re-commenced 3 to 4 weeks after the surgery.

Possible risks and complications

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in cheek reduction. You should be fully aware of these before you consider surgery. The best way to reduce risk is to find a fully qualified surgeon with formal training in cheek reduction who has performed the procedure many times.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the full list of complications that could arise as a result of any surgery.

Specific complications that may occur after cheek reduction surgery:

  • Asymmetry as a result of too much or not enough fat or bone being taken from either side of the cheek. This can be corrected through further surgery.
  • Lumps and bumps can appear on the surface.
  • Puckering of the skin can occur if the skin doesn’t shrink to fit the newly reduced cheek area.

Rough costs involved

Surgeon, anaesthetist and hospital costs will vary, together with your choice of fat or bone removal. A rough estimate is somewhere between $5000 and $7000 (AUD). Some private health insurers in Australia may help with hospital bed and theatre fees. Having a doctor’s referral will enable you to claim some of this cost.

You should expect the costs to be higher if you are having combined procedures at the same time.

This information is correct as of 2019.

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