What is buccal fat?
Essentially, buccal fat is the fat that lies between your cheekbones and jaw.
"Buccal fat is one of the deep facial fat compartments that kind of give structure to the cheek area." plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Jacono told the New York Times, explaining that it's not affected by fluctuations in weight. "We’re born with how much we have."
"There are some people who have a face that’s very sculpted, whether they’re cheekbones or more highlighted. There’s some people who have a more cherubic face. Some people call it chipmunk cheeks."
What is buccal fat removal?
Buccal fat removal is plastic surgery to remove that fat between the cheekbones and jaw to better highlight the bone structure. Alternatively, it can be called a 'cheek reduction'.
How does buccal fat removal work?
Typically, the procedure involves a local anaesthetic, and the patient remains awake. The surgeon will make small incisions on the inside of the mouth to expose the buccal fat pads. They will then press gently on the pads, before cutting and removing them. Finally, the surgeon will close the incisions with sutures (these are usually dissolvable).
How long does it take to recover from buccal fat removal?
Following buccal fat removal surgery, the healthcare provider will explain the aftercare to the patient. They may be given a mouth rinse to help prevent infection.
During recovery, the patient will be on a liquid diet for a couple of days.
Post-surgery symptoms may involve bruising, swelling and numbness.
Total recovery time usually takes around three weeks, and several months to see results.
Why are people talking about buccal fat removal?
It's kind of all thanks to Lea Michele... albeit unknowingly. Basically, after the Funny Girl star posted a selfie to Instagram, some fans couldn't help but speculate that she had received the procedure herself.
“Wake up babe new surgery just dropped in Hollywood jaw filler and buccal fat removal,” one user Tweeted in response to the selfie.
Lea has never confirmed having received the procedure - or any plastic surgery for that matter. But the Glee alum has previously opened up about Hollywood's beauty standards.
"People would tell me to get nose jobs, that I wasn’t pretty enough for film and television,” the actress told Town & Country, adding that her Fanny Brice predecessor Barbra Streisand inspired her to embrace her nose.
“I never considered altering how I look. I think for for everyone’s body, it’s their choice," Lea also told the Today Show. "If it’s something that I’ve been thinking on my own for a while, that might have been one thing. But because it was someone telling me what to do…I’m really grateful I have an incredible mother and father, who have really instilled a really great foundation in me of strength and staying true to myself."
WATCH: Lea Michele Makes Joke About Illiterate Rumour. (Article continues after video)
While it remains unconfirmed if Lea had the buccal fat surgery, there's no denying that demand for the procedure has gone up as of late.
“I’m doing three times as many buccal fat reductions this year than I was five years ago,” Dr. Jacono told the New York Times.
How much does buccal fat removal cost?
Before you ask, no - Medicare doesn't usually cover buccal fat removal surgery. After a bit of research, it seems the procedure can cost anywhere from roughly $3,000 to $10,000 AUD.
Celebrities who have had buccal fat removed
Chrissy Teigen seems like one of the only celebrities to confirm having undergone the procedure.
“Since I quit drinking I’m really seeing the results and I like it,” Chrissy said via Instagram.
Of course, there has been speculation that other celebrities, in addition to Lea, have removed their buccal fat - with names like Sophie Turner, Bella Hadid and Dove Cameron being thrown around. Though none of these have been confirmed.
So, there you have it. If flat stomachs and thigh gaps weren't enough to worry about, now some are endorsing Tim Burton cheekbones??
Too many insecurities, too little time.
Let this be a lesson that what you see in Hollywood - and even on Instagram and TikTok - is very deceptive. Celebrities have access to plastic surgery that us regular folk don't have, and it's important to remember that a lot of the time the "beauty standard" isn't naturally achieved.
The debate about plastic surgery is a tricky one - should we embrace our natural beauty or have the right to make decisions over our body? Both are probably correct. It's a personal choice, and you have to do what's right for you.
Just remember that the beauty industry wants your money, that it's much easier for celebrities to have work done, and social media is rarely real.
If you're considering undergoing a buccal fat removal procedure or have any questions, please consult a medical professional.