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Facial Implant FAQs

Q – What is cheek implant surgery?
Cheek implant surgery, also referred to as malar augmentation and cheek augmentation, is a procedure designed to enhance the contour of the cheek and midface by adding volume and definition with use of a malar (cheek) implant.

Q – Who is a good candidate for cheek implants?
The best candidates for cheek implants are patients who are bothered by a ‘flattened’ appearance of the midface, or the area between the lower eyelid and the upper lip. Patients also often note a hollowed look to this area with a lack of definition in their cheekbones. Female patients commonly present with a desire to have ‘higher cheekbones’ to provide them with a more feminine look. These unwanted findings typically reflect a deficiency in the underlying bony contour (facial skeleton). In other cases, hollowing of the midface and cheek is more related to a lack of soft tissue or cheek fat pad volume. For instance, some patients undergo cheek augmentation to address a sunken appearance in the area between the lower eyelid and cheek, termed the nasojugal groove. This sunken appearance can cause unwanted shadowing and dark circles and is usually the result of a soft tissue volume loss and skin sagging due to the aging process (see cheek implant diagram). Patients with these concerns are considered good candidates for cheek implants because the surgery helps to provide more fullness to the cheek region while maintaining a natural look. Oftentimes this results in dramatic improvements in definition with much better overall facial balance. Cheek implant candidates can undergo the procedure as an isolated enhancement, although many cheek implant patients undergo additional facial contouring, chin augmentation for instance, at the same time.

Q – Where is the cheek implant surgery performed?
Cheek implant procedures are typically performed in an outpatient surgery setting.

Q – What type of anesthesia is used for cheek implant surgery?
Cheek implant procedures may be performed with deep intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.

Q – How is cheek implant surgery performed?
Cheek implant procedures are performed by first making hidden incisions inside of the mouth on each side. The cheekbone is then exposed by lifting the overlying soft tissue of the cheek and an appropriately sized cheek implant is then chosen based on the type and degree of volume loss in the particular patient. Some implants provide augmentation only over the lateral aspect of the cheekbone, while others provide additional contouring across the entire lower eyelid region and cheek. Still other types of cheek implants provide augmentation just below the cheek mound. All of the implants have tapered borders to allow for natural blending with the surrounding bone and tissue. Once the implant has been chosen, it is placed over the bone in the desired area. The implant is then secured using tiny screws anchored to the bone which prevents unwanted movement of the implant until adequate healing has taken place. The incisions are then closed with absorbable sutures.

Q – How long does the cheek implant surgery take to perform?
Cheek implant procedures usually take one and a half to two hours to complete.

Q – Where are the incisions made for cheek implant surgery?
Cheek implant procedures are performed without any external incisions. The incisions are actually hidden inside of the mouth on either side of the upper lip.

Q – Are there scars after cheek implant surgery?
There is no visible scarring with cheek implants as the incisions are made inside of the mouth on either side of the upper lip.

Q – Is cheek implant surgery a painful procedure?
Patients will experience mild discomfort during the first week after the cheek implant procedure.

Q – What is the recovery like after cheek implant surgery?
Moderate swelling of the midface may be noted for ten to fourteen days after surgery with continued, gradual disappearance for several more weeks. Patients will experience mild discomfort during the first week after the procedure. Sutures do not need to be removed as they are absorbable. Most cheek implant patients are publicly presentable in about two weeks after surgery.

Q – When will I be able to return to work after undergoing cheek implant surgery?
Patients can usually return to work within seven to ten days after the cheek implant surgery.

Q – When will I be able to exercise after my cheek implant surgery?
Aerobic exercise can usually be resumed within two to three weeks after the cheek implant procedure.

Q – When are the stitches removed after the cheek implant surgery?
Absorbable sutures are used for cheek implant surgery and do not require removal.

Q – Are there risks or complications with cheek implant surgery?
As with all types of surgery there are potential risks associated with cheek implants. By virtue of the anatomy in the cheek region, there is a potential risk of temporary numbness from bruising around the infraorbital nerve which provides sensation across the lower eyelid and midface. If this occurs, full sensation typically returns within several weeks. It is quite rare to see permanent numbness following cheek augmentation. There is also a theoretical risk that your body will not accept the implant and that infection around the implant may ensue. If this occurs, the implant can usually be removed without long-term consequence.

Q – Does insurance cover cheek implant surgery?
Cheek implant procedures which are cosmetic are usually not covered by insurance, though patients will need to check with their own insurer.

Read more about facial implant procedures.

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