Enhancing And Adding Cheek Volume Via Cheek Implants

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on February 9, 2022 No Comments

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Cheek implants enhance facial structure and add volume to the cheekbones or mid-face. Some patients may be concerned with cheekbones that appear flat or undefined. Others may have lost volume in the cheeks or mid-face due to age. Cheek augmentation can make the face appear more symmetrical, balanced or youthful.

Non-surgical options for cheek augmentation include dermal fillers, while surgical options include fat grafting or implantation. Keep reading to learn more about cheek implants.

What is Cheek Augmentation Surgery?

Cheek augmentation surgery to enhance cheek volume includes fat grafting or the placement of cheek implants. There are also cheek augmentation procedures dedicated to reducing the size of the cheeks. Cheek implants are typically made from silicone, although polytetrafluoroethylene and high-density porous polyethylene are also sometimes used. There are three types of cheek implants.

  • Malar Implants are placed on the cheekbones themselves, providing greater definition and projection.
  • Submalar Implants are placed just below the cheekbones to create more mid-face volume.
  • Combination Implants make use of both malar and submalar placement to enhance both the cheekbones and the midface.

What Types Of Results Can Cheek Implants Provide?

While malar implants enhance the cheekbones by creating more defined cheekbones, submalar implants address loss of volume below the cheeks, correcting the appearance of hollowed or sunken cheeks. Combination implants create both cheek volume and cheekbone projection.

Implants come in various shapes and sizes to address the shape of your face as well as your desired results.

Scarring is minimal if incisions are placed in the lower eyelids, and invisible when incisions are placed in the mouth.

Are Cheek Augmentation Results Permanent?

Unlike non-surgical procedures such as cosmetic fillers, cheek implants are considered permanent. As with any facial plastic surgery, they cannot prevent aging itself, and their appearance may change over time as the face changes.

If you’re unsure about cheek augmentation surgery, non-surgical options, such as dermal fillers, let you experiment with a new look without committing to permanent change. While some types of implants, such as those made from solid silicone, can be later removed, other types cannot.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Typically, cheek implants are performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning an overnight hospital stay is not required.

Cheek implantation surgery begins with anesthesia. Most commonly this is a combination of local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. General anesthesia might be used if your cheek implants are being inserted in combination with a face lift or other procedure.

Once anesthetized, your surgeon will make an incision through which to place the implants. Incisions are made underneath the lower eyelid or inside the mouth near the gum line. The incision used will depend upon the type and size of implant you choose.

Implants are then inserted through the incision and placed according to your desired results. Finally, the incision is closed with stitches.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Cheek Implants?

The ideal cheek implant candidate is anyone who has stopped growing, is generally healthy, and dissatisfied with the appearance of their cheeks and midface.

  • You’ve consistently maintained your ideal body weight for at least 3 months
  • Your head and skull are no longer growing
  • You have realistic expectations regarding results
  • You are physically healthy
  • You are a nonsmoker or willing to stop smoking 1-2 months before surgery

Patients who prepare in advance by researching what to expect before, during and after the procedure are generally more satisfied with their results.

Are There Non-Surgical Options for Cheek Augmentation?

Dermal fillers can add volume to the cheeks and will also smooth lines and wrinkles in the process. Juvederm and Restylane are both hyaluronic acid-based fillers. They provide volume and work with your body to stimulate collagen production. Sculptra is a polylactic acid-based filler and works similarly.

With dermal fillers, it can take up to 2 weeks before peak results are revealed. Hyaluronic acid fillers last anywhere from 6-12 months, while Sculptra may last for up to 2 years.

If you’re unsure cheek implants are right for you, dermal fillers let you test your desired look without committing to a permanent change.

What is Cheek Implant Recovery Like?

Cheek implant recovery is relatively quick. Most patients return to work or other low-impact activity within one week. Final results are typically revealed in 6 weeks when the face has fully healed. Here’s what you can expect:

Day 1-3: After your cheek implant surgery, your surgeon may wrap your face in gauze or elastic compression bandages. This can help reduce swelling and discomfort over the first few days.

Incisions placed in the mouth may warrant a liquid diet for the first few days. You might also be given a special mouthwash to help keep your wounds clean.

During the first week, prioritize rest and limit your activity. Keep your head elevated above your heart to further reduce swelling.

Weeks 1-2: After the first week, you’ll return to your doctor to have your stitches removed. Most patients can return to normal daily activities during this time. Continue to follow your doctor’s post-surgical instructions, which include wound care tips to minimize scarring.

Weeks 4-6: Most patients are fully healed by 6 weeks. Wait until you are cleared by your doctor before returning to high-impact exercise or strenuous activity.

What Are The Risks Of Cheek Implant Surgery?

Cheek implant procedures have been performed for over 60 years and are considered relatively safe. However, as with all surgeries, there are risks. Side effects of cheek implants may include the following:

  • Negative reactions to anesthesia
  • Unexpected bleeding, swelling or bruising
  • Asymmetrical results
  • Displacement of implants
  • Infection or allergic reaction
  • Unexpected scarring, either at the incision site or around the implant (capsular contracture)

Risks are minimized when you choose an experienced, board-certified cosmetic surgeon to perform the procedure.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

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