What Is Cheek Augmentation Surgery?
Also known as cheek implant surgery, cheek augmentation alters the shape of the cheeks by increasing their volume and projection. An implant -- made either of solid silicone or a porous biocompatible material such as Medpor -- is used to achieve the desired effect.
Who Can Benefit From Cheek Augmentation Surgery?
Cheek augmentation surgery is most beneficial to those who have had a loss of volume in the cheeks due to age, weight loss, or illness, as well as those who have a naturally flat cheek or who simply desire more projection and definition in the cheek area. By varying the size, shape, and placement of the implants, cheek augmentation can be used to improve facial symmetry. In addition, by increasing volume in the mid-face, cheek implants can provide a lift to the mid and lower-face.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Cheek Augmentation Surgery?
The best candidates for a cheek implant surgery are non-smokers who are in generally good health with a normally functioning immune system. It is also important for the patient to have a positive outlook and realistic expectations about outcome.
Pre-Operative Considerations for Cheek Augmentation Surgery
Your surgeon will usually order pre-op lab tests to confirm your health status. He or she may also require that you adjust, cease, or begin taking certain medications in the week or two before your surgery, including avoiding aspirin, many anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements, for two weeks prior to surgery. If you smoke, you may be asked by your surgeon to stop well in advance of surgery.
Your surgeon will help you determine the best size and shape for your cheek implants from the many choices available. Your incision placement will also be discussed at your initial consultation.
Recovery and Downtime Following Cheek Augmentation Surgery
Most patients can return to non-strenuous work as soon as 24 hours after surgery, although you should avoid driving while on pain medications. Strenuous work or exercise should not be resumed until at least 2-3 weeks have passed. Take care to ensure that your cheeks are not subjected to excessive force or motion during this time, such as with contact sports. It is important to understand that these guidelines can vary widely based on the patient’s personal health, the techniques used, and other variable factors surrounding the surgery.
While recovering, you may experience a feeling of tightness in the cheek area, and it is normal for some facial movements may be temporarily restricted or impaired. Any severe pain should be reported to your doctor.
Risks and Complications of Cheek Augmentation Surgery
Risks and possible complications include:
- unfavorable scarring and/or skin discoloration
- excessive bleeding or hematoma
- skin or fat necrosis (tissue death)
- poor wound healing or wound separation
- blood clots
- anesthesia risks
- deep vein thrombosis
- cardiac and pulmonary complications
- persistent edema (swelling) or fluid accumulation
- persistent pain
- temporary or permanent change/loss of skin sensation
- unsatisfactory aesthetic results requiring revisional surgery
- shifting of the implant’s position, possibly causing pressure on surrounding facial structures or nerves
- excessive scar tissue formation, firmness around the implant, and/or skin contour irregularities
- eyelid retraction causing eye dryness (with the eyelid incision approach)
After surgery, call your surgeon immediately if any of the following occur: chest pain, shortness of breath, unusual heartbeats, excessive bleeding.
Cheek Augmentation Costs
The average total cost of cheek implant surgery varies from $3,000 to $7,000. The discrepancies in cost have to do with the complexity of the procedure, your surgeon’s qualifications, and reputation, and on the geographical area. (For example, in the U.S., costs tend to be higher in the northeast and the west.) Total costs include your surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fees, facility fees, lab fees, and medications.
Complementary Procedures to Enhance Cheek Augmentation Results
Cheek augmentation surgery is often done in conjunction with other surgeries to enhance the patient’s results. Other facial procedures which may be desirable include a face lift, brow lift, eye lift, rhinoplasty, laser skin resurfacing, or other facial implant procedures such as jaw implants or chin augmentation.
Other Considerations Before Having Cheek Augmentation Surgery
Though it is possible for implants to be removed at a later date, the placement of cheek implants can permanently alter the underlying facial anatomy, and therefore cheek augmentation surgery should be considered permanent. This is especially true with porous implants, which are much more difficult to remove. If you are not absolutely certain about your decision to have cheek augmentation surgery, you may wish to consider a less permanent way of adding fullness to the cheeks, such as injection with dermal fillers.
Seeing Your Results After Cheek Augmentation Surgery
Most swelling should subside within the first 4 to 6 weeks, although your final result may not be fully realized until up to 6 months following your procedure. When incisions are placed on the inside of the mouth, you will have no outwardly visible scars. If the eyelid approach was used, there will be scars present just under the lashline. However, these scars are usually virtually undetectable even to those who are looking for them. If at any point your implants appear to have shifted position, contact your physician right away.
More Information About Cheek Augmentation Surgery
To learn more about what happens during cheek augmentation surgery, read all about how cheek augmentation surgery is done.
Cheek Augmentation Surgery, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; http://www.surgery.org/public/procedures/cheek_augmentation
Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; 2008 Annual Report
Facial Implants, American Society of Plastic Surgeons; http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Patients_and_Consumers/Procedures/Cosmetic_Procedures/Facial_Implants.html