Chipmunk cheeks is essentially a cheek area with too much fullness. They can be a bother, but many people are not sure how to get rid of them to have a slimmer face. Figuring out what caused your cheeks to be large is the first step to getting rid of chipmunk cheeks.
Some ways to decrease cheek include buccal fat pad removal surgery, exercising, Botox injections, avoiding certain foods and drinks, etc. Common causes of chipmunk cheeks include facial bloating, facial fat, large masseter muscles, or just your underlying bone structure.
Facial Bloating, Facial Fat, or Masseter Muscles?
Before you decide on what kind of treatment you want, you have to figure out whether your face is bloated or whether you have facial fat. Some people may only have chipmunk cheeks because of facial bloating, while others may have it due to facial fat.
Typically, facial bloating fluctuates throughout the day. It often depends on what underlying issue is causing the bloating. Some people may experience facial bloating from a condition, while some foods and drinks can trigger facial bloating due to salt.
Chipmunk cheeks could come from facial fat if there is also fat in the neck, under the chin, and jowls. The growth of facial fat may be from gradual weight gain, with the face slowly getting puffier, fuller, and rounder.
However, some people may naturally have larger cheeks because their face naturally stores more fat around the cheeks. For instance, some people may have slim bodies but have a “babyface,” like Selena Gomez.
Masseter muscles are one out of four muscles that aid in chewing, and they are between the cheeks and jaw. In some cases, overdeveloped masseter muscles can make the face fuller.
Overdeveloped masseter muscles can come from clenching your teeth, temporomandibular joint disorder, excessively chewing gum, etc.
Other Factors That Can Cause Large Cheeks
Certain conditions, like Cushing’s syndrome, can cause large cheeks. Some steroid treatments can lead to puffier cheeks as well.
Buccal Fat Pad Removal
The buccal fat pad is the mass of fat in the center of your cheek. Everyone has these fat pads, but the size of the fat pads can vary due to genetics, your diet, physical activity, etc. Therefore, some people may have more pronounced buccal fat pads than others. As stated earlier, some people may naturally carry a bit more fat on their cheeks, which some people would call “baby fat.”
The buccal fat pad slowly decreases with age, but buccal fat pad removal is a quick way to eliminate chipmunk cheeks. The procedure reduces how much fat is in the pads to thin the cheeks, mainly where the cheek hollows would be.
A primary concern for most people is looking more gaunt and aged due to the loss of baby fat. But most plastic surgeons are aware of this fact, and many of them will be sure only to remove just enough fat to avoid creating a sunken, older appearance. They often take age into account before they remove cheek fat, so it would likely not be a problem if you get this procedure.
Most patients have favorable outcomes after a buccal fat pad removal procedure (Moura et al., 2018). According to the study, there was a low chance of complications, and no severe damage was reported.
Will Exercise Get Rid of Facial Fat?
Exercising will help you lose fat all over your body, given that you do the correct exercises. However, “targeting” fat loss in specific areas is a bit of a myth. So, you cannot only do “face workouts”; you need to exercise to lose weight all over the body.
You need to lose fat all over your body to lose fat on your face. Ideally, it would be best if you focused on exercising in general to lose excess body fat; the facial fat should follow.
So, how much fat should you lose to lose fat in your face? Well, that greatly depends on your current fat percentage and how your body is naturally built.
For instance, you could be a woman who is 5’6” and 150 pounds, which falls under the overweight category for that height. Losing weight to reach a normal weight range (think 120-130 pounds) and get a lower fat percentage, you might notice a drastic change in your face.
However, let’s say that the woman is 5’6” and weighs 110-120 pounds, which falls under the underweight to a normal weight range of that height. If she has naturally large cheeks, dropping more weight may not lead to much change.
Total fat loss can help decrease the size of your cheeks. However, it may not work if you naturally store more fat in your cheeks, but not in other parts of your body. You would be better off trying buccal fat pad removal instead.
There is no specific diet or exercise routine that you have to follow. Choosing a healthier diet with a calorie deficit and focusing on exercise (particularly with lots of cardio) should result in total body fat loss, making your cheeks slimmer.
Ways to Treat Facial Bloating
If you notice your cheek size tends to fluctuate at different times of the day or on certain days, you can try to treat it with lifestyle changes:
- Avoid sugary drinks
- Limit your salt intake
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid junk food
How to Treat Overdeveloped Masseter Muscles
If you find yourself clenching your teeth a lot, you need to learn how to stop clenching (if possible). Usually, it involves being very aware of your jaw muscles and making sure that they are relaxed.
It can be a bit bothersome at first, but you will quickly get used to it. Some people also get night guards to use while they sleep if they clench their jaw.
Some people also have certain triggers that make them clench their jaws. For instance, having several cups of coffee could make you jittery and clench your jaw, so cutting back on the caffeine could help with that.
General feelings of anxiety and stress can make you unconsciously clench your teeth. It can be hard to avoid these feelings altogether, but finding ways to cope can help you make your masseter muscles relax.
Some ways to help yourself relax include taking a few deep breaths, squeezing a stress ball, etc.
Overdeveloped masseter muscles tend to make the jaw look large. However, some people may find that it makes their overall face look rounder, causing their cheeks to look like “chipmunk cheeks.”
A quick way to help overdeveloped masseter muscles shrink is to use them less; you want them to atrophy to make them smaller. Since they are like any other muscle, the less you use them, the smaller they become.
However, trying to relax a tight and overdeveloped muscle can be difficult without a bit of help. That is why many people with overdeveloped masseter muscles opt for Botox injections.
Botox injections help the masseter muscles relax and weaken, so the muscles will gradually shrink and become normal. However, people may have to get repeat injections every 3-4 months to see good results.