Cheek Augmentation

Am I a good candidate for cheek implants?

If you have lost volume in the malar region associated with aging, or if you were born with weak cheeks and desire a fuller, more youthful appearance, you may be a candidate for aesthetic cheek surgery. Some patients have used temporary soft tissue fillers in the past to achieve full cheeks, and are seeking a permanent solution. Patients undergoing cheek augmentation should be of good health, with a normally functioning immune system.

Cheek Implants Standard Procedure Techniques

Aesthetic cheek surgery can be performed alone, or in combination with other surgical procedures. Multiple shapes and sizes of implants are available to fit your particular anatomy and desired change. Depending on the areas that are being addressed, the implants can be placed through the mouth with a small incision at the gum line, or through a lower eyelid incision if eyelid rejuvenation is being performed at the same time. Depending on the approach and your surgeon's preference, the cheek implants can be made of solid silicone or other non-reactive materials such as Medpor. Surgically, a pocket is made for the implant directly over the cheek bone, and the implant placed. The implant is secured either by designing a well fitting pocket, or affixing it to soft tissue or bone. The incision is closed, completing the cheek augmentation. Usually the whole operation takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete, unless other procedures are being performed in addition to the cheek augmentation.

Cheek Implants Benefits / Advantages / Options

  • Permanent way to achieve full cheeks (as opposed to temporary fillers)
  • May easily be preformed at the time of other facial surgery
  • Intra-oral or eyelid approach
  • Multiple implant choices to achieve desired look

Other Considerations regarding Cheek Implants

If you are bothered by weak cheeks and are not sure if implants are right for you, it is best to seek consultation with a knowledgeable plastic surgeon. Implants add volume to the cheek, and in doing so provide a lift. A similar effect can be achieved with soft tissue fillers, and these can be used as a temporary way to see if you would be happy with cheek implants. A midface-lift may be the procedure of choice for middle aged patients who previously were happy with their midface appearance, but have noted a drop of the cheek rather than loss of volume. With more advanced facial aging, there can be a combination of factors yielding the aging appearance, including bone resorption, loss of skin elasticity, and loss of volume with fat atrophy. The cheek region may appear deflated and jowling can be present along the jawline. In these cases, aesthetic cheek surgery combined with a facelift procedure may yield the ideal result in such cases.

Cheek Implants Risks / Complications / Patient Safety

  • Sensation to the cheek may be temporarily or permanently changed by the implants.
  • Implants can become shifted, especially in the early stages after surgery. Avoid contact sports until you are fully healed.
  • With the eyelid approach for surgery, retraction of the lower eyelid is possible, which may create dry eye sensation.
  • If cheek implants become infected, removal may be necessary to clear the infection.

Cheek Surgery Recovery Process

The usual recovery after aesthetic cheek surgery depends on the type of surgical approach utilized and if other procedures are performed at the same time. In general, from a cheek augmentation alone, you should be active the day of surgery, but your upper lip will be "asleep" similar to a visit to the dentist. This sensation returns overnight, and the cheeks will feel mildly sore and swollen. Prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medicines may be provided, and you should maintain light activities. Keeping your head elevated helps the swelling resolve sooner. If your cheek augmentation was performed through the mouth, you will be restricted to a soft diet for a few days until the gums have healed. You will rinse your mouth after eating to keep the sutures clean, and these will dissolve on their own after several weeks. If the eyelid approach was utilized, your surgeon will instruct you on how to rest your eyes, and utilize lubricants to prevent dryness during the post-surgery swelling phase. During follow-up visits, skin sutures will be removed.

Will cheek surgery be painful?

Most patients do not consider aesthetic cheek surgery to be a painful surgery. There is a period of "tightness" associated with the increased volume from the cheek implant, which is worse right after surgery due to the body's normal swelling response. Pain medications are usually only needed for a few days, and then only at night to help with sleep.

Will there be scarring from cheek surgery?

With the intra-oral approach for cheek augmentation, no visible external scars should be present. If an eyelid approach is utilized for your aesthetic cheek surgery, scars will be present under the eyelash margin. Scars in this location are usually very hard to identify, even when you are searching for them.

What are some typical short-term side-effects of cheek surgery?

It is normal to have a change in cheek sensation after aesthetic cheek surgery. Right after surgery, your cheek will be "asleep" due to the local anesthetics utilized. After your cheek "wakes up", sensations maybe heightened until sensory nerves near the implant get used to their new, tighter surroundings.