Chrissy Teigen says she had buccal fat removal performed on her cheeks. Here's what it involves, and the risks.

·2 min read
Chrissy Teigen says she had buccal fat removal performed on her cheeks. Here's what it involves, and the risks.
Chrissy Teigen
Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Stella Artois
  • Chrissy Teigen said she had buccal fat removal surgery, a procedure to thin the cheeks.

  • The surgery involves incisions inside the mouth and usually requires a liquid diet during recovery.

  • It has no medical benefit and has risks like bleeding, infection, or disappointment at results.

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Chrissy Teigen wasn't just blessed with a striking face, she's also had buccal fat removal surgery, a procedure that removes fat from the cheeks.

"I did that Dr. Diamond buccal fat removal thing here," the cookbook author and model said on a recent Instagram story, pointing to the hollow space beneath her cheekbone. "And since I quit drinking, I'm really seeing the results, and I like it."

Buccal fat removal can create a more contoured face

The aim of buccal fat removal is to thin cheeks in people with naturally round or chubby cheeks, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The result can be a more contoured face with hollower cheeks and more pronounced cheekbones.

Before the procedure, which in Los Angeles can range from $3,000 to $8,000, patients are given anesthesia. Then, a plastic surgeon makes incisions in the inner cheeks through the mouth to remove some of the tissue. The cheeks are then stitched up, typically with dissolvable stitches. One plastic surgeon writes it typically takes about 30 minutes.

To heal, patients may follow a liquid diet for a few days, ASPS says, and follow certain rinsing procedures to keep the area from getting infected.

The procedure isn't for everyone

92% of buccal fat removal patients who reported their satisfaction on the site RealSelf.com said the procedure was worth it. However, it has no medical benefits and comes with risks including bleeding, heart and lung complications, infection, and temporary or permanent weakness in the face muscles.

Patients can also be disappointed at asymmetrical or minimal results, as the surgeon removes only about 40% to 50% of the whole cheek pad, Dr. Jonathan Zelken, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon near Irvine, California, wrote on his clinic's website.

To find a reputable plastic surgeon, look for one who's a board-certified member of ASPS. Be sure to ask them questions like whether you're a good candidate (thin-faced people typically aren't), what sorts of results you can expect, and how often they've performed this particular procedure.

It's important to work with someone you can be honest with too about your current habits, like smoking or supplement use, and your concerns about your face. "The success and safety of your buccal fat removal surgery procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation," ASPS says.

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