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What is a Cheek Augmentation?

By A. Garrett
Updated May 21, 2024
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Cheek augmentation involves the raising of the cheekbones to reshape the face of a patient for cosmetic purposes or to repair damage caused by trauma or birth defects. There are two types of cheek implants: malar, or upper-cheek, and submalar, middle-cheek. Doctors primarily use four types of implants to augment cheeks: silicone, expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), and polyethylene implants. Most cheek augmentation procedures do not require patients to be admitted to the hospital for overnight stays. While generally considered a safe procedure, some complications related to the surgery are possible.

Prior to the surgery, the patient will meet with the doctor for an initial consultation. During this period of time, the doctor will discuss the pros and cons of cheek augmentation, discuss the possible results and outcomes with the patient and explain the possible risks associated with the surgery. Patients may also have the opportunity to see and feel implants of various shapes and sizes in order to gain a better understanding of what the cosmetic surgery entails.

Cheek augmentation surgery usually lasts for one to two hours. Cheekbone augmentation of the malar region involves placing implants on the upper cheek. Submalar cheek augmentation are placed mid-cheek but are not directly connected to the cheekbone like malar implants; these implants help the cheek appear less drawn or emaciated and are primarily a cosmetic procedure performed in conjunction with face lifts or chin augmentations.

Prior to cheek plastic surgery, the patient is placed under general anesthesia. Once the patient is sedated, the doctor may make an incision on the outside of the face near the eye or an intraoral incision inside the mouth to insert the implant. Most patients choose the intraoral procedure because the external incision may leave a visible scar.

The implants used for cheek augmentation are contingent on the doctor’s recommendation and the patient’s preference. Silicone is the most commonly used implant; these implants are firm, yet flexible and are usually attached to the cheekbone using titanium screws. EPTFE implants are softer than silicone and can be altered to better suit the shape of the patient’s face. Unlike silicone, polyethylene implants are soft and do not require screws, instead the implant amalgamates with the surrounding skin tissues.

Following cheek augmentation, the site of the incision will be swollen and tender. Also, if the surgery was intraoral, there is a chance for infection because of the high volume of bacteria in the mouth. Consequently, patients may be only allowed to consume liquids until the incision in the mouth heals. Pain medication may be prescribed following the surgery, and if infection arises, the patient may also be given antibiotics. After three or four months, the patient may see the full benefits of the surgery.

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