What is the Difference Between Buccal Fat and Jowls?

What is the difference between buccal fat and jowls? Is it something that is visualized or palpated or is the position on the jawline different?

Doctor Answers 3

The difference between buccal fat and jowls

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Buccal fat and jowls are visually in different positions on the face. These 2 areas of fat deposits are not directly connected.

Buccal fat lies in deeper layers of tissue in the center of the cheek at or just above the level of the upper lip. It is continuous with the deep fat of the temple area. This fat shrinks or atrophies as a natural part of the aging process.

Jowls become more pronounced as one ages. They lie along the lower jawline beginning at a line drawn downwards from the corner of the mouth (marionette line) and extend towards the same side ear. They are caused sagging (downward shifting) of cheek skin and superficial cheek fat present just under the skin.

Buccal fat can be removed via an incision inside the mouth. Because it is deep it is not removed via an external cheek incision. Jowls are removed by facelift surgery which lifts the sagging skin and superficial fat.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Jowls vs. buccal fat.

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Buccal fat is what the public calls "chubby cheeks". Jowls are the sagging fat everyone gets as they age along th lower jaw just in front of the beginning of the chin.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Difference between Buccal Fat and Jowls

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Hi OklahomaCity2013,

The simplest way to think of the difference between the buccal fat pad and the jowls is that the buccal fat pad is in the area that we consider the “cheek” while the jowls are along the jawline.

Prominent buccal fat can make someone have the “chipmunk” cheek appearance. On the other hand, the loss of buccal fat can make someone look very gaunt and give a “hollowed out” appearance.

Droopy jowls are what cause an irregularity along the jawline. A straight jawline is an indicator of youth and so when the skin and/or fat along the jowls start sagging, it creates this irregular contour and makes someone appear older.

Regardless of whether your concern is with your buccal fat or your jowls, there are different techniques to address both of these issues, respectively. Hope this helps!

Dr. Sunder

Sarmela Sunder, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.