How to Lose Face Fat

You’ve all seen the ads: miracle fat burner, banish that double chin, watch your face fat melt away. There are a lot of wild promises out there about health and fitness, including the best way to lose face fat.

Weight loss works differently for everybody, but face fat can be one of the most persistent types. Newsweek has spoken to fitness experts, nutritionists, aestheticians and medical specialists to find out more.

What Causes Face Fat?

In most cases, face fat is part of an overall increase in body fat. This is typically caused by a poor diet and lack of exercise, as well as aging and genetic conditions.

“Operating at a calorie surplus whilst under-exercising will always cause weight gain,” said Carolina Goncalves, superintendent pharmacist at online drug store Pharmica. “How fat is distributed around our bodies varies from person to person, and there really isn’t anything we can do in terms of directing fat to or away from certain places on the body.”

Woman pulling on her cheeks
A woman pulls on her cheeks while looking in a mirror. Face fat is caused by an overall increase in body fat, which typically happens as a result of a poor diet and lack of exercise, as well as aging and genetic conditions.
Getty Images/Doucefleur

In some instances, roundness of the face may not be a direct result of a person’s body fat content, Goncalves told Newsweek. It can also be caused by general swelling and puffiness. “One of the causes of this could be poor lymphatic drainage, characterized by excessive swelling and fluid retention in the face.”

A London-based aesthetician, Sadaf Jaffari, said some people turned to gua sha, a traditional Chinese practice in which a tool is used to scrape facial skin, to help deal with facial swelling. The health benefits of this practice are not clear, however.

In rare cases, extra facial fat could be a symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, a condition caused by an excess of the stress hormone cortisol. If you suspect this to be the case, the best step would be to consult your doctor.

How to Lose Face Fat and How Long It Takes

“It might not be the answer you were looking for, but you can’t spot-reduce fat,” said Tom Jenane, nutrition and fitness expert at Nature’s Healthbox in Brighton, southeast England. “You should be seeking to lower your overall body fat percentage—that is the only real way to target the fat in the area,” he told Newsweek.

If your goal is to lose face fat, Goncalves also recommends employing general weight loss strategies. “The face may take longer than some other areas of the body to see the visual weight loss difference, but rest assured that results will follow,” she said.

Person standing on a scale
A person standing on a scale. If your goal is to lose face fat, the key is to employ general weight loss strategies.
Getty Images/Rostislav_Sedlacek

The rate of each individual’s weight loss will vary depending on factors such as sex, age, sleep quality, caloric consumption and diet—as well as how frequently and intensely a person exercises.

Crash diets are not advisable if you want long-term weight loss. “The recommended, safe amount of weight loss sits between 1 pound and 2.8 pounds per week—an amount that’s realistic, healthy and more sustainable than quicker weight loss,” said Goncalves.

What to Eat to Lose Face Fat

There’s no magic solution for consistent weight loss other than maintaining a caloric deficit, in which a person’s body burns more calories than it ingests throughout the day.

Dr. Paul Banwell, a plastic surgeon in southeast England, told Newsweek the best approach to losing weight on any part of the body is to follow a distinct diet.

“The keto diet is very popular right now and can help you lose weight by cutting out carbohydrates such as sugar, sweets, rice, pasta and replacing them with protein and fat,” he said.

A board of healthy foods
Healthy foods, including salmon, asparagus and pulses. Follow a nutritious diet and increase your physical activity to lose weight.
Getty Images/Cook Shoots Food

Rachael Sacerdoti, founder of wellness company It’s So Simple, recommends “eating healthy fats such as avocados and almonds,” explaining that they “offer great benefits to your complexion.”

She added: “Water is also your best friend when it comes to aiding weight loss and keeping you hydrated.”

Cutting back on alcohol won’t necessarily guarantee a reduction in face fat, according to Jenane, but it can help a person retain less water and appear less bloated. “Alcohol can also make the skin dehydrated and more red, meaning your skin will look more aged and damaged,” he added.

Do Facial Exercises Work?

Weight loss is a tested and proven way of reducing face fat but the same cannot be said of facial exercises, whose effectiveness is still widely disputed.

Goncalves said: “Whilst there is a big gap in the scientific literature on whether facial exercises are effective for targeted fat loss, there is some evidence that strengthening the face muscle may contribute to a more toned appearance.”

Penny Weston, a fitness, wellness and nutrition expert based in Staffordshire, central England, also pointed out that “research is lacking on the overall effectiveness of these exercises.” She added: “You can’t only reduce facial fat but you can try and tone it though.”

Goncalves said movements such as sucking in your cheeks (to make a fish face) might help to strengthen your facial muscles—but there are no shortcuts here. She also does not recommend buying specialized or celebrity-endorsed gadgets that claim to slim the face, saying these can actually increase the risk of injury or headaches.

So, ignore the promises of a quick fix and opt for healthy habits that will benefit you for the rest of the life.

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