Many people are born with deficient, flat-looking cheeks; others lose facial fat as they age, particularly in the mid-face/cheek area. There are several ways to augment the cheeks and correct these issues. The simplest way is by adding a special, anatomical implant to the cheeks. The other method, which is used separately or in conjunction with small implants, is fat transfer. Fat transfer is especially beneficial when people have suffered a loss of fat in several areas that are difficult to treat with an implant alone.
Smooth, contoured cheeks and high cheekbones have traditionally been considered a sign of beauty and youth. Unfortunately, as people age, shallowness often develops in the mid cheeks due to loss of fat or the pull of gravity. Sometimes, a facelift or mid-face lift can restore the cheek to its more youthful appearance by lifting the sagging jowl fat back up into the cheek area. However, that may not always be enough.
Silastic cheek implants are inserted through a small incision made inside the mouth in the crease above the upper lip. They are positioned in place, and dissolvable sutures close the incisions on each side. Dr. Frenzel uses special sutures or screws to secure the implants and then closes the incisions.
Cheek augmentation with implants is an outpatient procedure performed under general or local anesthesia with mild IV sedation. Recovery is usually rapid, and discomfort is minimal. However, some swelling can last for a few weeks.
Fat is harvested through liposuction, usually on the abdomen or thigh. It is purified, prepared into vials, and stored in a special freezer. The area to be augmented is numbed with a local anesthetic, and the fat is meticulously injected in layers into the sallow areas of the cheeks in 2-3 sessions. By layering the fat and not over-injecting at one sitting, more of the fat is maintained long term. Fat transfers are especially useful in cases where multiple areas of hollowness are involved or where implants would not be sufficient. Fat alone, however, does not provide the form that some people need from an implant, such as in the case of hereditary flat-looking cheeks with deficient cheekbones.
Recovery is quick and risks are very minimal. One may experience some temporary bruising, swelling, and possibly lumpiness. The success rate of the fat lasting long-term seems to depend upon the mobility of the area involved. Cheek areas do very well.
For more information on cheek augmentation with facial implants or fat transfer, contact Advanced Cosmetic Surgery.