Chipmunk Cheeks

A youthful face generally has a relatively heart-shaped structure, finer at the chin and broader at the cheekbones. Looked at another way, in youth we tend to have the facial shape of an egg with the broad part of the egg at the top and the finer part of the egg at the base (chin). As we age this inverts with broadening of the lower part of the face (jowls and jawline sag) and reduction of the cheekbones.

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The Procedure

Some individuals are born with very prominent chubby/chipmunk cheeks. This is due to an excessive amount of buccal (cheek) fat. This is not to be confused with the higher prominent cheek bones, but is fulness lower in the face just above the jowls.

A very pleasing alteration in facial shape for this problem can be achieved via buccal fat pad excision. As an added advantage buccal fat pad trimming causes the cheek bones to appear more prominent. The buccal fat pad may be trimmed anywhere from a minor amount to completely and it is up to the artistic judgement of the surgeon and patient to determine the best amount. In the past, some people have had excessive buccal fat pad excision and this has led to a gaunt appearance. Dr Nettle only performs buccal fat pad trims using his artistic sensibility to provide a natural, refined look , rather than a gaunt or hollow look.Buccal fat pad trim is very frequently combined with other surgeries. A buccal fat pad trim can be combined with a facelift, chin implants or cheek implants to produce a more refined and aesthetically pleasing look

The procedure is performed in hospital under a light general anaesthetic. An incision is made in the cheek inside the mouth. The fat is removed via this intraoral approach, so there are no cuts on the outside. A few dissolving stitches are used inside the mouth and these usually take around about five or six days to dissolve.

The Recovery

Recovery from buccal fat pad removal is extremely quick. As the incisions are made inside the mouth and the stitches used are dissolving there is essentially no wound care. It is sensible to have a liquid diet progressing to a soft mushy diet for the first week to 10 days. No other particular care is required. Bruising is essentially unheard of and patients having buccal fat pad trim alone could be back at work within a day or two if desired.


No. This is a structural issue of the face and some individuals simply have a very large lower face due to buccal fat pad excess. These individuals will benefit from buccal fat pad trim at any age.

The surgery is normally performed in hospital under a general anaesthetic, as it is most frequently performed in combination with other procedures such as facelift, cheek implants and chin implants. If performed alone the surgery takes approximately one hour and is performed as a day stay with no need to stay overnight.

Buccal fat pad trim is permanent.

The incisions are intraoral (inside the mouth) so there are no external scars to be seen. The few stitches that are used dissolve within a few days.

There are no Medicare rebates for buccal fat pad trim as this is considered a cosmetic procedure.

This is an artistic judgment. You will almost certainly have your own ideas but Dr Nettle will guide you as to what looks good. Dr Nettle considers not only your facial shape and features now, but how they are likely to change over many years to ensure that an appropriate amount of buccal fat pad is removed.

Dr Nettle will usually see you within one week of your buccal fat pad trim. After that you and Dr Nettle will determine future visits to assess progress. It is often many months before the full effect of a buccal fat pat trim becomes evident.

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Chipmunk Cheeks