Why Buccal Massages Belong In Your Self-Care Routine

In case you haven't noticed, everyone is obsessed with buccal fat — or rather, a lack thereof. Buccal fat removal is all the rage at the moment, with Today noting that the number of people who have elected to undergo the procedure grew by 70% in 2021, and the number has likely skyrocketed since. There is also a growing number of people opting for cheaper, less-invasive alternatives, like buccal massage.

If you're unfamiliar with buccal fat removal, it's an irreversible cosmetic procedure that involves removing a significant chunk of cheek fat to give way for a more prominent jawline. While you can achieve the same result with dermal fillers, removal is a more permanent solution. But even though it can make your face look more chiseled, Dr. Ira Savetsky of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons noted that, eventually, it'll only make you look much older than you really are: "You're going to remove a large portion of the buccal fat pad, and whatever is remaining will gradually shrink. Twenty years from now, you may look too thinned out and prematurely aged."

If you're contemplating having your cheek meat removed, you need to understand that buccal fat isn't the enemy. Instead of undergoing a procedure you may regret, you can still achieve the coveted V-line without spending money. How? By opting for a special kind of facial exercise: a buccal massage.

What does a buccal massage even do?

If a sharper jawline is what you're after, you may want to explore buccal massage, which, as you can probably tell, entails massaging your buccal fat. It's a cheaper, less-invasive alternative to buccal fat removal, and you don't even need to hop on an operating table.

Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, a plastic surgeon, explained to HuffPost that it's a "technique that involves massaging the face from inside of the mouth, stretching the cheeks, and accessing deeper muscles." If you opt for this route, a trained professional will stretch and contort your cheeks in various ways to make them appear more contoured. In addition to a chiseled look, the massage also reportedly helps reduce facial swelling, and in some cases, alleviates temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

You can do a buccal massage on your own, but some places offer a multi-step "faux buccal fat removal" procedure. Celebrity makeup artist Joseph Carillo has pioneered the Sculptural Energetic Lifting Facial method, which includes undergoing lymphatic drainage, facial cupping, and two massages: sculpting and buccal. Carillo told PopSugar that the buccal massage portion is a "deep-tissue, intra-oral massage that stimulates lymphatic drainage and also engages with muscles that you can't connect with externally." The result? A more defined face and jawline and less puffiness. A little caveat, though: You may feel pain or discomfort.

Can you DIY a buccal massage?

As opposed to typical facial massages that often involve the use of tools like gua sha, buccal massages only require the use of hands. "The hand is the only way to feel and fully understand the condition of the muscles," Joomee Song, aesthetician and founder of Faceworks, shared with Allure.

Someone not well-versed in facial anatomy may not be the best person to perform buccal massages, however, even if they do it on their own face. Since you will be technically pulling and stretching your facial muscles — not to mention putting your fingers in your mouth — you may potentially injure yourself, which is the last thing you want to happen. Dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian told The Coveteur that if you wish to reap all of the benefits of buccal massages, it's best to leave it to experienced facialists who can do it properly and safely.

It's important to manage your expectations, too. Dr. Kimberly Lee, a board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, explained to Fortune that the results are noticeable at first, but they're temporary. "So it's not like you get the buccal facial massage and then you're told your whole face is sculpted forever, or you have tension that's released forever," she said.