A Guide To Cheek Augmentation

By:    Published: May 29, 2012

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As the skin ages, it loses collagen and elastin, two compounds that give skin its flexibility and youthful appearance. Once these compounds start to dissipate, the skin may start to sag or look gaunt. Many people choose to get facial fillers, such as Botox and Restylane, to combat this problem, but others choose to get a cheek augmentation instead.

Why Get Cheek Augmentation?

A cheek augmentation consists of placing implants under the skin to achieve the following looks:

  • A more structured face
  • Balanced facial features
  • Accentuated cheekbones
  • A youthful appearance

Those who have used temporary cheek fillers in the past may consider getting a cheek augmentation for a more permanent solution, but this procedure isn’t used solely for cosmetic purposes. A cheek augmentation may be part of a larger facial reconstruction for someone who has suffered severe facial trauma.

Risks

With any medical procedure there are risks and a cheek augmentation is no exception. These are some of the risks most commonly associated with a cheek augmentation as well as other facial alterations:

  • Infection – This may lead to a second surgery in which the implants are removed.
  • Shifting – This may also lead to a second surgery in order to fix the shifted implant or to remove it.
  • Numbness or tingling – The cheeks may feel numb or tingle after surgery but these sensations should be temporary. In more severe cases, the numbness and tingling could become permanent.
  • An adverse reaction to the anesthesia – It’s important to discuss the type of anesthesia being used with the doctor before undergoing surgery.
  • Retraction of the lower eyelid – If an incision is made underneath the eye, the lower eyelid could retract after the surgery, causing dryness of the eye.

Another risk associated with cheek augmentation is called extrusion and it occurs when the implant becomes visible underneath the skin. This would also require a second surgery to fix. It’s also common for those who’ve had a cheek augmentation to experience tightness in the skin on and around the cheeks as they adjust to the new implants. After a few weeks, the tightness should dissipate.

How To Prepare

Before any incisions are made, it’s important to consult with a doctor about the procedure. Cheek augmentations are unique from other surgeries because there are multiple options for how the procedure can be done. It’s important for the patient to become familiar with those options so he or she can choose what he or she thinks is best.

Once the procedure has been discussed, the patient may need to stop using certain medications and supplements before the procedure as well as arrange for a friend or family member to assist with daily duties during the recovery period.

The Procedure

Before the surgery, the patient will be sedated and/or administered an anesthesia intravenously. The surgeon will then make the incisions. The incisions are most commonly made inside the mouth as this provides easy access to the cheeks and eliminates any visible scars. However, the patient may also choose to have the implants put in through incisions underneath the lower eyelids.

After the incisions have been made, the implants can be put in place. The surgeon may choose to use implants made of solid silicone or Medpor, a polyethylene material. The implants will be placed in pockets over the cheekbones and will be secured with screws or plates. The incisions will then be closed.

Overall, the procedure should take 30-45 minutes unless it’s part of a larger facial reconstruction or other facial alterations are being done at the same time.

Recovery

After the procedure, an overnight stay in the hospital may be required if other surgeries were performed along with the cheek augmentation, but usually, the patient will be released the same day. The patient may need to wear a special bandage for about a week after surgery to ensure that the implants stay in place. The patient will also need to take some precautionary measures such as:

  • Rinsing with mouthwash often to prevent an infection from developing where the incisions were.
  • Avoiding strenuous exercise and contact sports.
  • Keeping the head elevated for a few days after surgery to prevent fluid from accumulating in the implants.
  • Lubricating eyes to prevent dryness if the incisions were made under the eyes.
  • Sticking to a soft diet for a few days after surgery.

There may be some bruising and swelling after the surgery, but that should only last for a few weeks. After about a week, it should be safe for the patient to go back to work. After six months, all side effects should be gone and the cheeks should be completely healed.

Overall, a cheek augmentation can be beneficial for those who want to fill out hollow cheeks or balance other their facial features. It’s a quick procedure that offers multiple options, a short recovery time and long-lasting results.

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