Why is My Face Fat but I’m Skinny?

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Many people find themselves in the frustrating position of having a noticeably chubby, round, or wide face despite being slim and fit. Terms like “skinny fat” and “face fat” are becoming more common as social media drives the desire for an aesthetically pleasing body and face. While genetics play a role, other factors increase facial fat, particularly around the cheeks, jawline, chin, and neck. Lifestyle choices, diet, lack of sleep, high stress levels, and hormonal imbalances may all contribute. Swelling from sodium and alcohol intake and poor circulation in facial muscles also lead to facial bloating and the appearance of extra face fat.

The good news is that solutions range from surgical procedures like buccal fat removal to nonsurgical options like facial exercises, massage, and yoga. Improving diet, increasing exercise, reducing stress through mindfulness practices, and optimizing sleep can also help reduce overall body fat and create a more toned, defined facial appearance. In this comprehensive guide, “Why is My Face Fat but I’m Skinny?” we will explore the common causes of having a fuller face on a skinny body and provide tips and treatment options to help you lose the facial fat for a slimmer profile and more balanced look.

Causes of Fat Face and Skinny Body

Several potential causes can lead to increased facial fat and a rounder, wider face shape despite having a slim physique. The main factors include:

Genetics and Fat Distribution

The way our bodies distribute and store fat is primarily determined by genetics. Some people’s genetics make them prone to storing excess fat in their face, especially in the buccal fat pads of the cheeks. Others store more fat around the chin and neck or have underdeveloped facial muscles that sag over time.

Ethnic background plays a role as well. Those of Asian and Latin descent often have rounder faces and increased buccal fat. Causes are not fully known but may be related to adaptation to colder climates.

Diet and Lifestyle

Consuming excessive sodium, refined carbohydrates, and sugar can all cause fluid retention and bloating in the face. The face is prone to showing signs of bloat faster than other body parts.

Alcohol also triggers inflammation and fluid retention, particularly around the cheeks, chin, and eyes, leading to a rounder facial appearance.

Lack of exercise decreases circulation, muscle tone loss, and fluid retention. Smoking constricts blood vessels, which can exacerbate facial fat.

Sleep and Stress

Chronic lack of sleep is linked to increased cortisol production and insulin resistance, which can enlarge fat cells. Fluid retention from poor sleep also contributes to facial bloating.

High-stress levels also increase cortisol, increasing fat storage around the cheeks and jawline. Grinding or clenching from stress also builds the masseter muscles along the jaw, widening the lower face.

Forward head posture from tech use can shorten neck muscles, creating jowls and sagging along the jawline.

Actionable Solutions and Treatment Options

While the causes of increased facial fat on a skinny body can feel out of our control, there are thankfully actionable steps to lose the extra fat and achieve a slimmer, more contoured facial appearance.

Here are some practical solutions:

Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow a balanced diet low in sodium, refined carbs, and sugar to prevent bloating and inflammation. Stay hydrated with water.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, which can puff the face and increase fluid retention.
  • Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to allow your body to balance hormones and reduce cortisol properly.
  • Manage stress through yoga, meditation, or breathwork. High stress leads to face fat storage.
  • Improve your posture, especially avoiding the forward head, which can cause jowls and sagging.

Facial Exercises

  • Do cheek lifts, pucker lifts, and jaw releases to tone muscles. Hold for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times daily.
  • Try face yoga poses like lip puckers and cheek squeezes. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths.
  • Massage the face in outward strokes to improve circulation and drainage.

Overall Fat Loss

  • Follow a sustainable diet and cardio plan to reduce overall body fat, which slims the face.
  • Limit sodium, alcohol, sugar, and refined carbs to avoid bloating and fluid retention.
  • Stay patient and consistent. Natural fat loss takes time but yields long-term results.

Buccal Fat Removal Surgery

One of the more invasive treatment options for reducing fat face is buccal fat removal surgery. This procedure removes a small amount of buccal fat from the cheek area through an incision inside the mouth.

The buccal fat pads are located between the skin of the face and the buccinator muscles used for chewing. They sit along the cheekbone and give the cheeks their round, plump appearance.

During buccal fat removal, a plastic surgeon will make a small incision inside each cheek and use liposuction or surgical tools to remove the desired amount of buccal fat. Only a very conservative amount is removed to avoid an overly gaunt or hollow look.

Recovery takes 1-2 weeks, with moderate bruising, swelling, numbness, and stiffness. Results are permanent, but minor touch-ups may be needed if some buccal fat grows back over time.

Risks include asymmetric results, sunken cheeks, nerve damage, and contour irregularities. The procedure costs between $2000-$5000 in the U.S.

Buccal fat removal can provide a slimmer facial profile, but a healthy diet, lifestyle changes, and facial exercises are recommended first.

Non-Surgical Options for Losing Face Fat

There are several effective non-surgical treatment options for those looking to slim and tone their face without surgery. These include:

Facial Exercises and Massage

Targeted facial exercises can help tone the underlying muscles and stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage to reduce fluid buildup. Popular exercises are:

  • Cheek lifts – Open mouth in an O shape and lift cheeks towards eyes against resistance. Hold 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.
  • Pucker lifts – Pucker’s lips together tightly, then lifts towards cheekbones against resistance. Hold 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.
  • Jaw releases – Place fingers under the chin, gently push jaw down, stretching muscles. Hold 15 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Regular facial massage helps break up fat deposits and move fluid out of tissues. Use outward strokes from the chin up along the jaw, cheeks, temples, and forehead.

Face Yoga and Muscle Toning

Face yoga applies the concepts of yoga to the face to build muscular strength. Poses like a wide cheek smile, puckered O-mouth hold, and eyebrow raises tone facial muscles. Maintaining each pose for 5-10 deep breaths builds endurance.

Pressing the back of the tongue against the palate also engages the jawline. Using fingers as resistance when making expressions builds strength.

Overall Weight Loss and Body Fat Reduction

Losing weight through diet and cardio exercise helps slim body fat overall, including the face. Reducing alcohol, sugar, and sodium intake prevents bloating. Drinking more water aids fluid balance.

Sleeping 7-9 hours gives the body time to balance hormones and reduce cortisol. Managing stress through meditation, yoga, or breathwork also prevents hormone-related fat storage.

Conclusion: Why is My Face Fat but I’m Skinny?

In summary, many factors can lead to increased facial fat and a rounder, wider face on an otherwise slim body. Genetics, diet, sleep, stress, alcohol intake, and lack of exercise play a role.

While buccal fat removal surgically sculpts the cheeks, non-surgical options like facial exercises, massage, face yoga, and lifestyle changes are safer and have longer-lasting effects.

Losing overall body fat through diet, exercise, sleep, and stress relief helps create a more balanced and proportionate facial appearance. Being patient and consistent with natural fat-loss methods yields subtle but noticeable improvements.

The key is not to obsess over isolated fat deposits and adopt a holistic approach. Nourish your body through healthy eating, stay active, reduce inflammation and bloating from alcohol/sodium intake, get enough rest, and manage stress.

With time and consistency, you can lose the extra fat for a naturally slimmer and more contoured facial profile better suited to your body.


What causes fat face on a skinny body?

Genetics, poor diet, alcohol intake, lack of sleep and exercise, and high stress levels can all lead to increased facial fat and a rounder facial appearance despite having a skinny body. Fat distribution and facial muscle tone also play a role.

What is buccal fat and should I get it removed?

Buccal fat pads are located in the cheeks and contribute to a rounder facial shape. Buccal fat removal surgically sculpts the cheeks but should be a last resort after trying facial exercises, massage, and lifestyle changes first.

How can I lose fat in my face without surgery?

Face yoga, facial exercises, lymphatic drainage massage, increasing overall weight loss through diet and exercise, reducing alcohol/sodium intake, staying hydrated, managing stress, and getting enough sleep can all help reduce facial fat without surgery.

What facial exercises help lose fat fast?

Cheek lifts, pucker lifts, jaw releases, and wide cheek smiles are effective exercises to tone muscles and reduce fluid retention. Maintain each pose for 5-10 deep breaths and do up to 10 repetitions daily.

Does buccal fat ever come back after removal?

A small amount of buccal fat can regrow after removal, which may require a touch up procedure. Non-surgical methods must be maintained for continued facial slimming.

Can facial massage help my chubby cheeks?

Yes, regular facial massage can break up fat deposits improve circulation and lymphatic drainage to reduce fluid buildup that causes chubby cheeks. Use outward strokes from the chin to the cheeks.

Will I get wrinkles or saggy skin if I lose my face fat?

There is a small risk of sagging or wrinkles if you rapidly lose facial fat. Gradual fat loss through natural methods minimizes risks. Stay hydrated and use collagen-boosting skin care to maintain elasticity.

Can face yoga help double chin and jowls?

Yes, specific poses that engage muscles along the jawline, chin, and neck can help tone and tighten to reduce double chin and jowls when practiced regularly.

Will my face get skinnier if I lose body fat?

Yes, losing overall body fat through diet and cardio exercise will help slim fat deposits in the face for a more balanced and proportional look. Focus on sustainable, healthy fat loss.

Why do some skinny people have round faces?

Genetics play a big role in fat distribution and facial structure. Some ethnic backgrounds have naturally rounder faces. Anatomical factors like underdeveloped facial muscles can also contribute to a rounder look.

Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson

My focus is primarily serious chronic conditions… Cancer, FA, RA, MS, Lupus, Lyme, Heavy Metal Detox, Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Hormonal Imbalance, Hypo/Hyperthyroid, Candida, etc., but I have seen the entire spectrum of health challenges, as well as advising those who wish to maintain their health…