That laxity comes when skin loses collagen and elastin, two proteins in the skin that allow it to “snap back,” Dr. Devgan said. Older skin doesn’t snap back as well as younger skin. “When I’m doing buccal fat pad excision on, let’s say, a patient who is in their fifties or sixties, that’s usually in the context of a face and neck lift at the same time, because there is less elasticity,” she said.
Two years after her procedure, Ms. Lee said her face had changed a little since the initial results of the surgery, but she can still see a difference and thinks her face looks “slimmer.” “I feel much more comfortable getting my picture taken or even just like the way that my face looks with makeup,” she said. “No regrets.” Ms. Lee noted she had received negative feedback from commenters on TikTok who warn she will begin to look gaunt or saggy, but she hasn’t noticed this happening to her face.
Is this ever medically necessary?
Nope, purely cosmetic. Though having an excess of buccal fat can be uncomfortable for some people, particularly while eating, Dr. Jacono said.
Can it be reversed?
Technically, yes, but it will require multiple additional procedures, Dr. Jacono said. “Like all plastic surgery, doing it right the first time is important,” he said. “Undoing it afterward becomes a much bigger multistage surgery.”
Anything else I should know?
In addition to social media users speculating about celebrities who might have removed buccal fat from their faces, other users used the surgery’s sudden popularity to weigh in on the state of the beauty industry at large.
“What is buccal fat how are they still inventing new flaws for us,” Jules Zucker, a music supervisor who lives in Brooklyn, tweeted, using an expletive. Ms. Zucker’s tweet has been liked more than 100,000 times. “I am literally running out of limbs and features,” she added in a reply tweet.
“Life is too short to hate yourself. If something has been bothering you for years, and you have the resources to make yourself feel better about it, then, like, go for it,” Ms. Zucker, 27, said in a phone interview. “It’s the rapid fire trends that give me pause because, it’s like, they’re trends. Trends may be different in a year, but the only way you can reverse the procedure you did to your face is with another procedure.”
It Happened Online is a column in which we explain very particular bits of news enabled and amplified by social media.