Many patients seek a change to the shape or volume of their upper cheek area (“cheekbone”, also known as the zygoma or malar eminence), alone or in combination with other aesthetic enhancements such as blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) or rhytidectomy (facelift or neck lift). In most cases, the desired procedure is cheek augmentation (enlargement).
Cheek implants may be placed via an incision inside the mouth, between the gums and the upper lip and cheek, or via a lower eyelid incision. This choice is made based on the size of the implant and whether other surgical procedures are being performed concurrently; when no surgery is being performed on the lower eyelid, a trans-oral (by mouth) approach is selected to avoid external incisions. Modern cheek implants come in many sizes and shapes and can vary in design to include only the upper cheek (malar implants) or the upper and middle cheek (combined malar-submalar implants). Another variety of implant sits directly on the lower orbital rim (eye socket), and provides volume enhancement in the region of the lower eyelid.
Indications for implant placement in this area are rare. Selection of the proper type and size of cheek implant requires a detailed conversation with your surgeon, including analysis of patient photographs or computer-enhanced imaging, and examination of implant types and sizers. Dr. Ransom always dedicates a significant amount of time to this pre-operative discussion, as he believes it is crucial to a successful aesthetic outcome.
Cheek or malar implant surgery can be performed under light sedation and may accompany other cosmetic or reconstructive procedures. Cheek implants can be an excellent complement to blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) or facelift (rhytidectomy) and neck lift surgery. With subtle increases in the projection of the malar region or changes in the shape and contour of the cheeks, significant improvements in the harmony between facial areas can be achieved. Dr. Ransom and his patients select from the most up-to-date implant designs to provide a modern aesthetic augmentation, avoiding extreme changes or unnatural shapes. He uses only biocompatible Silastic (silicone-based) implants, which have the lowest rate of complications of all the available materials.
Who is a candidate?
Anyone who desires increased projection or fullness in the upper cheek area may be a candidate for cheek implants. Cheek implants may be placed as a stand-alone procedure, or combined with other aesthetic or reconstructive surgeries. In some cases, cheek implants may be used to camouflage defects from previously healed trauma, including fractures of the maxilla (upper jaw bone) and zygoma. The key to any facial implant surgery is identifying the most appropriate size and shape of the implant – to achieve the greatest aesthetic enhancement, while still looking natural. Dr. Ransom will work closely with you throughout this process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I like the shape of my face, but not the flat and hollow appearance of my under-eye area and cheeks. Will cheek implants change the shape of my face?
A: Dr. Ransom works closely with all of his patients to select the best implant type, size, and shape to meet their aesthetic goals. Most implants will not change the shape of the face – rather, they provide projection (a rounder, fuller, or more youthful contour) to the upper cheek area. In some cases, an implant may be selected to compensate for a bony deficiency in this area of the face. Depending on the exact implant selected, the patient’s profile and/or frontal appearance may be altered. The degree of change, however, is dependent on the implant specifications – and Dr. Ransom makes sure that you understand which implant that you will have placed. More information about facial implants is available during your consultation.
Q: What happens to the implant over time?
A: Silicone-based implants are biologically inert – meaning they basically don’t cause any significant tissue changes and do not integrate with your body. Rather, the implants become fixed in place by a thin fibrous capsule, formed by your body after the implant is inserted. None of the implant material escapes into your body or bloodstream. This material is the safest and best option available.
Q: If I decide later that I no longer want the cheek implants, can they be removed?
A: Yes, cheek implants can be removed. This is an uncommon but straightforward procedure that often can be performed with local anesthetic and conscious sedation. Cheek implants can also be modified or replaced, if a different shape or size is desired at a later date – though it is best to avoid multiple surgeries if at all possible. Please see the procedure page for cheek implant revision for more information. Dr. Ransom can discuss the details of implant placement or removal, as well as different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, and contours during your consultation.
Please note that all patients are different and individual healing times and results may vary. The statements regarding procedures and recovery made here are general rules.