B2/C1 – Buccal fat removal (guided reading)

I don’t know about you, but I spend a little too much time on social media. Luckily, I don’t own a TikTok account, but other platforms with similar features rob you of your free time. I saw a video on buccal fat removal during one of those YouTube scrolling sessions. Whether it was the clickbait or an attractive thumbnail, I clicked on it and serendipitously found a new topic for one of my private lessons.

As you can see from the title, I didn’t end up using the video in my class. It was a reaction to a commentary on celebrities following the buccal fat removal trend and the nasty consequences of the procedure. I searched for another video that would hopefully explain this trend, and focus more on the before-and-after pictures without shaming anyone who’s ever gone under the knife. However, I had no luck that day. Instead, I started searching for a news article, which I could send to my students before class and focus on the topic later in class. That’s when I found Why Is Everyone Suddenly Obsessed With Buccal Fat? by Madison Malone Kircher from The New York Times. If you don’t use The New York Times too often, you should be able to access the article for free. I decided to trim the text and adapt it to my students’ needs before sending it their way.

If you are interested in this guided reading lesson, scroll to the end of the post to download the lesson plan and the presentation for free.

If you don’t want to send the article before the class, you can start with a lead-in in which students look at the pictures of seven famous women and predict what they might have in common. At this stage, any answer may be correct. For example, they are all celebrities, all women, all young and attractive-looking. The correct answer is that allegedly all the women had a buccal fat removal procedure.

Read the first paragraph of the article in which the author explains what buccal fat is and the reason why so many people are crazy about it. Another problem I found while researching the topic, was the inconsistency in pronouncing buccal. For this reason, I went to the Cambridge Dictionary and included the meaning and proper pronunciation of the word. In the first part of the reading, I focused on three vocabulary items: chiselled, sculpted and swelling. To reinforce the word formation, students identify the parts of speech and change these words to other parts of speech, for example, chiselled (adjective) – to chisel (verb) – a chisel (noun).

Moving on to the second paragraph, in which students learn more about buccal fat. Before reading the main text, students read the questions and then look for the answers in the text. The questions are designed in a way to help understand the words fluctuation and cherubic. In the original text, the author refers to the angels from the Sistine Madonna as cherubs. It could be a nice additional word and another example of word formation, in case you decide to keep it.


Now it’s time to get to the main part of the text – Why are we even talking about the buccal fat removal now? I thought it could be a good idea to allow the students read the paragraphs and discuss the answers to the opinion-based questions in pairs or groups. The text is quite easy, and I believe that higher-level students will have no problems understanding it without any help. Students discuss answers to the questions like Should we criticise celebrities for not being honest about their cosmetic surgeries? or Who should take the blame for a bad procedure – celebrities or plastic surgeons? Give students time to talk about these topics and elicit answers from some groups.

Of course, it’s much easier to criticise celebrities. It’s time to think about the nonpublic-facing people who decided to get the surgeries done and shared their buccal fat removal journeys online. Students read about a woman who travelled to Mexico to get it done at a lower price. You can also watch a 10 seconds video as an example of what can be found on the internet. Once again, students discuss if they know anyone who had this procedure done. They also think about a more serious issue – Would you ever travel abroad to get the surgery? Why (not)? Students may think about the reasons for going abroad to get the surgery, for instance, the price or easier access, etc.

In the next part, students read about the procedure and answer simple questions to check their understanding of the text and procedure. The idea behind this paragraph is a quick introduction to a discussion if students would ever decide to get this procedure done on their faces.

The author suggests doing the best Zoolander impression to get an idea of what the effects of the procedure would look like on them. Do your best impressions and decide if that procedure is a good idea.

Students work in pairs or small groups again and think about three possible risks of getting a buccal fat removal procedure. Collect the ideas and read the paragraph to check the answers. The answers given in the text are bleeding, nerve injuries, infection, numbness and an asymmetrical face. After finding out about the possible risks of the surgery, would the students still want to get it done? Do they believe that the procedure is worth the risk?


In the next paragraph, students read about the biggest problem with any plastic surgery – ageing. The paragraph mentions the type of people who are best candidates for this type of surgery (people with an excess of buccal fat). Students deal with this paragraph by describing an ideal person for this procedure. You can check if they remember previously mentioned vocabulary, such as the cherubic face. Yet again, the paragraph isn’t overly complicated, but you may want to explain the meaning of sunken in and hollow.

Following the last two words from the previous paragraph – No regrets – students think about their regrets regarding haircuts, purchases, or maybe some of the cosmetic procedures they had done before. Most likely, none of your students will have a bad plastic surgery story, so you may want to focus on bad haircuts and how they dealt with reversing the process. Then students read about how the buccal fat removal procedure can be reversed.

Finally, students read the last paragraph in which the author mentions any other additional information that we should know about. The main point of this paragraph is talking about trends, not only in fashion or TikTok dances but also in more invasive ones, such as cosmetic surgeries. Finish with a group discussion talking about the previous trends and predicting the next big plastic surgery trend.

That was a long one! If you enjoyed this guided reading description, look at the lesson plan and the presentation below. If you are a user of Canva, you can also get the presentation on that platform.


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