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Restoring Cheek Volume: Cheek Implants vs. Voluma

Written by Chuma Chike-Obi, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on April 22, 2014 10 Comments

cheek selfie

Cheek augmentation is a cosmetic procedure that corrects a loss of volume in the cheeks commonly associated with aging of the face. As we age, our facial tissues sag, lose volume (like a balloon losing air), and lose elasticity (like an old rubber band that has become brittle and breaks easily). Volume loss manifests as a sunken appearance to the midface), making the person appear drawn, flat, and skeletal.

Facelifts are designed to address the sagging of tissues, but not the loss of volume or loss of elasticity. The most sensible ways to address the volume problem is to add volume by using either an implant, dermal filler, or the patient’s own fat.

Cheek augmentation can dramatically improve the facial contours by restoring lost volume through the use of cheek implants.

What Are Cheek Implants?

Similar to breast implants, cheek implants are prosthetics that can be used to enhance the cheek area. Cheek implants are made from various materials including solid silicone (the most popular type of cheek implant), Medpor (high density polyethylene) and Gore-Tex (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene).

Cheek implants are available in different shapes, each designed to fill a specific portion of the cheek and midface area:

  • Malar: Generally the most common shape, malar implants are placed on the cheekbones to provide more projection to the side of the face.
  • Submalar: Submalar implants are placed midface rather than on the cheekbones. This type of implant is ideal for individuals who have a sunken appearance “mid-cheek”.
  • Combined: Combined implants blend elements of both Malar and Submalar implants. Thus the combined implants augment both cheekbone and midface areas.

Nearly 9,000 cheek implant procedures were performed in 2012, a 16% decline from year 2000. The reduction in the number of cheek implant procedures could be due to the risks of cheek implants combined with the development of effective alternatives including dermal fillers and fat transfer procedures.

Risks of Cheek Implants

Cheek augmentation through cheek implants does carry some risks such as infection, swelling, and malposition of the device. Additionally, it is important to remember that, like breast implant surgery, cheek implant placement may require future revision surgery related to the device.

Another Way of Restore Lost Cheek or Midface Volume: Dermal Fillers or Fat Transfer

There are some fantastic alternatives to facial implants for patients seeking additional mid-face volume but who are apprehensive about the risks associated with augmentation surgery. Alternatives include the use of dermal fillers or the patients own fat.

  • Voluma XC: As of this writing, the only filler approved by the FDA for midface volumization is Voluma. Voluma is a hyaluruonic acid (HA) filler, like its cousin Juvéderm. However, Voluma is specifically designed for adding volume to the cheek area; making the cheeks look smooth and youthful. Voluma is clinically proven to last up to 2 years under optimal conditions. Side effects are moderate and include temporary tenderness, bruising, discoloration, or itching at the treated site.
  • Fat Transfer: Fat harvested from areas of a patient’s own body (usually the thigh or abdomen area) can be injected into the cheeks to instantly add volume. Fat transfer is advantageous because the patient’s own tissues are used. However there may be prolonged bruising associated with fat transfer compared to filler treatments.

In summary, facial rejuvenation and volumization is an exciting field in plastic surgery; depending on the patient’s needs, nonsurgical options may be more appropriate than surgical options, or vice versa. The goal for most patients is to produce an improved, refreshed appearance that is natural and not excessively dramatic.

Are you experiencing a loss in volume to your cheeks? Contact us today for a free consultation.


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.


10 Responses to “Restoring Cheek Volume: Cheek Implants vs. Voluma”

  1. Jessica says:

    I was wondering when would implants are more suitable than injections?

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you
    a shout out from Atascocita Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the great job!

  3. Lida says:

    Hey very interesting blog!

  4. Ray says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  5. Beemi says:

    So what is better natural fat or voluma?
    Im not consedering cheek implant bexause i have good bony cheeks but i have some sagging jowl and thought of increasing the volum by either natural fat or voluma or sculptra? Which is best and more batural looking?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Beemi, Thanks for reading our blog and for submitting a great question. In general fat tends to look more natural compared to any of the fillers. However, often fat cannot provide as dramatic of a result. So the choice between filler or natural fat comes down to individual needs and desired result.

      Please contact us today to setup a consultation, we can help you find the best option for your desired result!

      Thanks again,

      WD Staff

  6. Karen says:

    Love Restylane and other fillers. You can get a great result without major surgery. I’ve told everyone about em.

  7. Derick says:

    Appreciate this post. Will give Voluma a try!

  8. Dede says:

    What are the cost difference in the 3? Could a person that’s had a big weight loss and iver 50 actually need 5 or 6 syringes of voluma? Or am I being squeezed lol pun intended

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Dede,

      Thanks for reading our post and for submitting your excellent question. Generally speaking, cheek augmentation through implants has a higher up front cost while injectables like Voluma have a higher cost overtime (the result is not permanent and maintenance injections need to be done).

      Depending on your specific needs it is possible that you could need multiple syringes of Voluma to accomplish your desired result. However, to give you a specific estimate we would have to assess you in person.

      You should definitely get a consultation (or multiple) to discuss the best treatment option (both in terms of cost and result). If you are in the Austin area please give us a call to set one up!

      Thanks again,
      WD Staff

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