People are often their own harshest critics. As such, we often have patients come to us complaining that they have excess fat in their cheeks that makes them look like chipmunks. We can assure you that none of these patients resemble small rodents in the least, but some are carrying a touch of extra fat in their cheeks. Our surgeons are happy to help, of course, but may recommend trying some nonsurgical options first.
What Causes Fat in the Cheeks?
Excess fat in the cheeks is typically caused by a poor diet and a lack of exercise. Some medications and medical conditions can cause puffiness in the face, and some people never seem to lose the baby fat that causes chubby cheeks. Sometimes it comes down to genetics: certain people just have more fat in their faces than others. In many cases, however, fat in the cheeks is essentially the result of the general need for fat to go somewhere.
When we don’t eat as well as we should or exercise as often, fat builds up in our bodies. As we gain (or lose) weight our bodies decide what to do with our fat stores, and they do so without regard for where we would like that fat to go. (Ladies, if you’ve ever lost weight only to watch your breasts slowly disappear while the rest of you stayed the same size you know exactly what we’re talking about here.) If you gain weight—even a little— your body has to go somewhere with it, and it may choose your cheeks.
Natural Methods to Reducing Cheek Fat
It’s possible to slim your cheeks, and there are several possible ways to do so. The first step is to check your medications. Some, like steroids such as prednisone, can cause puffiness in the face. In this case, the solution may be as simple as talking to your doctor about trying a different drug. You should also consider visiting your doctor to see if there is an underlying medical issue. Some conditions, like Cushing’s syndrome, can cause a buildup of fat in the face and cheeks. In that case, medical treatment may prove necessary.
If there is no medical cause, there are several steps you can take to try and eliminate excess cheek fat.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you, which signals your body to retain water. This can cause puffiness.
- Eat less salt. Salt, like alcohol, encourages your body to retain water.
- Do your cardio. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps to reduce your overall weight which should also reduce the amount of fat in your cheeks and face.
- Drink more water. Water can help you feel fuller so you don’t snack as often or eat as much at meals which, like cardio, can help you slim down overall.
- Get more sleep. A lack of sleep can increase the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, while lowering the hormone leptin, which causes you to feel full. A lack of sleep not only leads to eating more but can prompt you to choose high-calorie foods.
- Improve your diet. A better diet will have you feeling better but will also promote overall weight loss. Your face should lose fat along with the rest of you.
If you wish, the internet is full of facial exercises that claim to reduce facial fat and make the cheeks smaller. We don’t recommend this method as none of these facial exercises have any scientific backing. If you wish to try them, however, facial exercises aren’t likely to do any harm.
How to Get Rid of Cheek Fat with Surgery
Natural methods for getting rid of cheek fat are perfectly cromulent and we applaud your efforts if you wish to try them. These methods often take time, however, and sometimes fail to produce results at all. After all, you could be fighting genetics. If you decide you want surgical intervention, you will most likely undergo buccal fat removal.
Sitting within your lower cheeks are encapsulated fat cells known as the buccal fat pads. A surgeon can reduce the size of these pads by removing some or all of them. To do so, they will make an incision on the inside of your cheek, inside your mouth. This ensures the procedure leaves behind no visible scars. Next the surgeon will pop your buccal fat pad out of your cheek through the incision and remove as much of it as necessary to achieve the desired result. When the trimming is done, they’ll place your buccal pad back inside your cheek and close the incision.
Recovery involves a few days on a liquid diet and some special mouthwash but is generally fairly easy. An ice pack can help with any swelling and most patients manage to stay quite comfortable with only over-the-counter pain relievers.
Buccal fat removal produces impressive results but best addresses excess fat in the lower cheeks. If your fullness resides primarily in your upper cheeks, liposuction may serve you better. This is something you should discuss with your surgeon to make sure you get the results you’re hoping for from surgery.