The Massage That Could Be The Perfect Alternative To Risky Buccal Fat Removal

If you've spent any time perusing beauty, skincare, or fitness videos on TikTok since the beginning of 2023, you have likely become aware of the war being waged on buccal fat. Buccal fat is the fat that fills out your face on each side between the jaw and the cheekbone. These fat pads create what is commonly referred to as the lower cheeks or jowls.


As the trend continues to grow, more and more people are visiting plastic surgeons to request the removal of their buccal fat to create a gaunter facial appearance and sharper definition of their cheekbones and jaws. "The whole purpose of the operation is to highlight the bony architecture, giving more definition and angularity to the face," plastic surgeon Dr. Alan Matarasso explained to RealSelf. "It simulates the look one has when sucking gently on a straw," he added. If you're interested in a more sculpted face but not ready to commit to actual surgery, there is an alternative — buccal massage. Here's everything you need to know about the non-invasive procedure. 

What is buccal massage?

Buccal massage is an internal and external massage technique that aims to manually release tension in the muscles of the face, reduce inflammation, and encourage the drainage of excess water and lymphatic fluid. The process includes intense pinching, pulling, squeezing, scooping, and dragging of the skin and buccal fat pads from inside the mouth and exterior of the face. This procedure differs from a typical facial massage in intensity, technique, and results, and is not a great fit for those with an especially low pain tolerance or an aversion to extended periods of intense touch.


Proponents of the massage claim that these maneuvers will result in less swelling, puffiness, and sagging of facial skin and a reduced appearance of buccal fat volume. This translates to a more sculpted appearance featuring more prominent cheek and jaw bones for a period after each massage. As with all non-surgical procedures, the massage's effects are temporary. 

What to expect

If you decide to try buccal massage, be prepared for a somewhat intrusive level of contact with your masseuse. Due to the fact that buccal massage includes a high level of pressure and stretching and requires entry into the mouth, some people find it unpleasant or even painful. Others experience the massage as enjoyable and relaxing. It all depends on your personal tolerance for touch, intimacy, pain, and discomfort.


People who want the procedure but feel apprehensive about the intensity may wish to schedule a consultation before committing to an appointment for a massage. At the consult, the technician will be able to explain the exact process used by that specific spa, so there won't be any guessing or surprises. If you decide to proceed, you can expect to see some mild sculpting benefits and feel less tension in your jaw for a couple of weeks after your massage. You may also notice an improvement in your complexion and skin texture, thanks to increased blood flow to the area. 

How to maintain the effects of buccal massage

Like most non-surgical cosmetic procedures, the effects of buccal massage are only temporary. After your first few appointments, you'll need to come back in for another massage in just a week or two. Eventually, your face's skin, muscle, and fat tissue will be conditioned enough to become ready to enter the maintenance phase. At this point, you'll only need to return for another buccal massage once a month.


Between appointments, you can boost your results by practicing self-massage. You can try out learning the technique by watching a YouTube tutorial from holistic beauty educator, Uma Ghosh. Tie your new DIY buccal massages into your weekly self-care or beauty routines such as exfoliation or deep conditioning hair or face mask application. Just be sure to be gentle with yourself as you learn the process to avoid any unnecessary pain, discomfort, or bruising. More self-care is never a bad idea. 

Buccal massage vs buccal fat removal

While buccal massage may be considered an alternative to buccal fat removal surgery, it does not produce the same results. If you are looking for a dramatic increase in the hollowness of your lower cheeks and a very pronounced jaw and cheekbones, you will likely be disappointed with the results of buccal massage alone. Surgery can provide complete removal, partial removal, or relocation of the buccal fat pad, depending on the desired look you choose with the input of your surgeon.


It is important to keep in mind that once the buccal fat pads are removed, they cannot be replaced. Unlike implants and fillers, buccal fat removal is a permanent procedure. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the fact that your face will naturally lose volume as you age. If the buccal fat pads have already been removed, it's possible to end up with a sagging, haggard facial appearance. It may be best to at least try buccal massage before considering taking more invasive measures.