How Can I Make My Cheeks Less Fat and Round?

Q: Hello Dr. Eppley. I’m a 25 yr old male who is dissatisfied with my cheeks. They are very round and full, and give me a infantile or boyish look, rather than a more angular, defined, masculine one. I’m pretty thin so weight loss is not an option.  I’m wondering what my surgical options are. Apparently plastic surgeons don’t think buccal fat reductions are a good idea. Would creating a cheek dimple help? What do you think?

A: Full cheeks do contribute to a more round facial shape although they are just one factor in creating that appearance. Depending upon how one defines the cheek area, a full cheek can be due to a prominent cheek bone, a large buccal fat pad, a thicker subcutaneous fat layer across the cheeks and face, or some combination of all three. It is obviously important to know what in the cheek area is creating that look when one tries to figure out how to change it.

From a practical standpoint, the only reliable method of ‘cheek’ fullness reduction is partial or complete buccal fat pad removal. While this is a very simple procedure, one has to appreciate what type of facial slimming effect that it will create. Buccal fat removal will create a soft tissue indentation below the cheek bone prominence. If you put your finger under the prominence of the cheek bone, this submalar or under the cheek location will be the area effect. The slimming effect will not go down or past the corner of the mouth.

For most patients, buccal lipectomies will create a mild reduction in cheek fullness in the submalar area, but never dramatic. It is a good procedure, in my opinion, in the properly selected patient. It has gotten a bad reputation because of poor patient selection and over aggressive fat removal. In patients with thin or lean body types, the short-term facial sculpting effect may not be worth the potential for a long-term facial atrophy look with aging.

In trying to create a more sculpted face, it is also important to look at other potentially useful procedures such as chin augmentation, neck liposuction, and maybe even mild cheek augmentation. When put together with buccal lipectomies in the right face, a signficant more defined facial look can be obtained.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana