The round face and full cheeks made Karina Lima, 26, an entrepreneur from Ceará uncomfortable. At the dentist, the young woman discovered the possibility of undergoing an apparently simple and affordable cosmetic procedure to thin her face and look more like the filters on Instagram that he occasionally tested when he took selfies. She was curious about the possibility of “fixing” what was bothering her so much. When she found out that influencer Gessica Kayane, GKay, had a bichectomy to make her features thinner, she decided to do the procedure.
Less than 20 days later, he saw that something was wrong. The full and youthful face gained an aged and shapeless look. The skin of her face in the region of her cheeks became flaccid, droopy and, on top of that, Karina felt a lot of pain in the region – even though it had already recovered.
The bichectomy was performed in May in the office of a dentist trusted by the entrepreneur. She sat open-mouthed in her chair for 40 minutes, and after that, life was never the same. The thin, harmonious face she had hoped for never appeared—and she no longer recognized herself when she looked in the mirror.
Karina went back to the internet to understand what was happening. That’s when she found the “Bichectomy Victims” page on Facebook, where administrators reported the same effects she was experiencing: prematurely aged face, skin sagging, dark circles under the eyes, sunken temples and a Chinese mustache.
From the statements on the page, he discovered that the bichectomy, considered a “fashionable” procedure, is leaving a trail of prematurely aged faces.
Side effects appear after years, months or days, as was the case with Karina. Men and women now need to spend thousands of reais on cosmetic procedures to alleviate the problems caused by bichectomy – an irreversible procedure that costs from R$2,000 to R$3,500.
Karina got in touch with the creators of the page, Fabiula Bianchi, 33, and Onaiza Casagrande, 28, and decided to open a virtual support group for victims of the procedure, who keep appearing. Today, the support group on WhatsApp and the page she maintains on Tiktok and Instagram have become the life mission of the entrepreneur, who spends all day warning about the damage that bichectomy can cause.
“Our work is not to harm dentists or praise doctors, but so that other people can have the chance to think twice before doing this procedure”, he explains. “So that they have the chance I didn’t.”
In the months following the procedure, Karina also discovered that the problems went beyond aesthetics. The bichectomy left her with functional problems: in addition to the pain, she had problems opening her mouth and eating. To treat her physical problems, the young woman used a medication rich in B12 that left her face full of pimples.
It also had an emotional charge. The young woman couldn’t talk about what she was going through, because it seemed that no one would understand the situation. “The shame is immense,” she says.
Unable to work and leave home, he decided to move from Ipueiras (CE), where he lived, to Fortaleza. “I didn’t want anyone to see me.”
The young woman discovered that her story was not the only one. In the group, a little more than a hundred people, most of them women, they give support and tips on procedures to “fix” the problems of bichectomy.
“A victim told me that he remembers the day of the bichectomy as the day of her death. These are very serious reports”, he says.
‘It feels like they took a piece of me’
Most of the people in the group had the procedure done voluntarily, but Justine*, 31, was not the case. In October of last year, the administrative assistant had orthognathic surgery to resolve her chin retrognathism, but she saw that her face began to change. already in the recovery phase.
First, he noticed a dip in his cheeks. “Seeing pictures of people who had the same surgery, I noticed that no one had their face the way mine did.”
Recovered from the surgery, Justine’s face was permanently tired. The difference was such that even close friends asked if she was okay. “There was one day I went out with a friend and she asked me if I had a bichectomy. From that point on, I started researching, looking for photos and started looking at the ‘before and after’ photos and saw that they were very similar to me.”
After her friend’s comment, Justine found the “Bichectomy Victims” page. She questioned the surgeon who performed the procedure and was blocked by her on WhatsApp.
“Until today, I have not been able to prove that the bichectomy was performed”, he laments. “I would have to have a specific exam of the area before the surgery to make the comparison. Because of that, I can’t sue the surgeons and I can’t even have a little peace. For those who had the surgery, I’m still seen as crazy.”
Currently, Justine resorts to hyaluronic acid fillers to disguise the depression she had in her face. In the support group, participants say they have already spent up to R$ 20,000 on collagen stimulators and other surgeries to try to mitigate the damage of bichectomy. “It feels like a piece of me has been taken away,” she says.
Bichectomy is a surgery created to remove the Bichat ball, a fatty tissue inside the cheeks that, depending on the size, leaves a rounded appearance on the face that does not reduce even with weight loss.
Aesthetics is the biggest factor in demand for bichectomy, but there is also indication for people who bite the inside of the cheek a lot. Since influencers, celebrities and photo filters have become part of everyday life on social media, the procedure has become even more popular.
“Bichectomy is a surgery that became very popular because it began to be performed by dentists. Due to market pressure, many professionals began to indicate it in an absurd way”, explains Wendell Uguetto, plastic surgeon at the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery and Hospital Albert Einstein.
The procedure is sold as something simple to do, but the doctor disagrees. “I only do it in a surgical center and I operate using a magnifying glass to be able to identify well what needs to be removed”, he says, in relation to the complexity of the surgery. “It has to be done in a controlled environment with a plastic surgeon. What we are seeing is a large number of people doing it without training and preparation.”
According to Uguetto, the Bichat ball also connects with the upper part of the face and, when it is removed, it can leave the region of the temples deeper and emaciated, thus giving a more “cadaveric” look to the face – far from the youthful result. and harmonic that is usually announced.
There is also a risk of the surgery affecting facial nerves. “This can cause permanent paralysis in the face, which is irreversible and requires very complicated reconstructive surgery that a dentist cannot perform,” he explains.
For Uguetto, anyone who wants to undergo the procedure should do more research on the professional’s curriculum and specialization. That is, going beyond an Instagram page with a lot of followers and engagement. “Many of the victims report having passed through professionals with over 100,000 followers,” says Karina. “People would have their mouths open.”
‘No one can say it’s me’
“Don’t like your cheeks? Slim your face” is the second result that appears when typing “big cheeks” into the Google search field. On social media, bichectomy is announced as a solution for those who want to make their face slimmer. Among the examples of desired faces are those of actresses Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox.
“The bichectomy is going to be a problem, sooner or later”, emphasizes Karina. “It’s important to say that influencers are very responsible for these trends, but people don’t understand that celebrities don’t just have bichectomy. They have access to the best doctors, the best products, everything. a different standard of living.”
Since deciding to expose her experience on TikTok, Karina has had millions of views on her publications and countless people have gotten in touch to share similar experiences or let them know that they gave up on the procedure after seeing the reports on the page.
Currently, the entrepreneur dedicates herself body and soul to the page. In life off-screen, she tries to get a job, but she doesn’t feel as confident as she used to.
while talking to the TAB, Karina revisited some old photos on Instagram. “This person here died, no one can say it’s me,” she said, sending a photo taken on her 25th birthday last year.