Chubby Cheeks

Q: Dr. Eppley, I’ve tried doing research about chubby cheeks and cheeks sticking out of the face when smiling, and I can’t seem to find anything about it. I don’t think it’s something common that people have. I’ve seen pictures of people generally having chubby cheeks but not the way mine are. My cheeks stick outward of my face when smiling. I have a whole bunch of extra fat on the side. My hair is always worn down to cover that extra patch. I get very self conscious to wear my hair up and reveal my cheeks. I’ve noticed that whenever people smile, their cheeks align with their forehead and my cheeks do not do that. The shape of my face is very chipmunk-like when I smile. My cheeks expand further than the rest of my face/forehead. I really want to get rid of that extra fat and not having to be self conscious about my chipmunk cheeks when smiling. Have you ever seen anything like this before? What do you suggest. 

A: This is not the first time a patient has expressed your same concerns/desires to me about the chubby cheeks that appears when they smile. In reality, this is not an adviseable problem to treat for the following reasons. First, plastic surgery on the face is almost never performed because of an animation/smiling concern. Facial structures/tissues are changed/modified because of how they look in a static or non-animated because that is how surgery is usually performed…with the face still and not moving. Secondly, changing facial structures for how it looks when one is smiling will almost inevitably cause an undesirable effect when one is not smiling. (face now too thin or droopy because of loss of support) Lastly, what is making your chubby cheeks look like that has do with the skin and subcutaneous fat that lies over the cheekbones. These are not tissues that are amenable to surgical reduction due to the facial nerves that cross in them. Your chubby cheeks are not caused by too much buccal fat or other fatty areas that can be safely surgically reduced. This cheek bunching effect is the result of normal tissues being pulled up and over the cheekbones.

The conclusion is that chubby cheeks is an unsolveable cheek problem and any effort to try and treat it will likely cause other problems…that may be more undesireable that what you have now.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana