Cheek Enhancement Surgery
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Cheek enhancement surgery, also known as cheek augmentation, is a procedure that aims to add volume to the cheeks to create a fuller, more youthful appearance. It is popular with people that feel they have flat or thin cheeks. This may be due to their natural face shape or as a result of ageing.
This surgical procedure involves the use of either implants or fat grafting to enhance the cheek volume.
What can a cheek enhancement achieve?
A cheek enhancement aims to add volume to the cheeks through either implants or fat grafting. By adding volume to the cheeks, it can create a more youthful appearance. In addition, a cheek enhancement can also help improve the proportions of the face, particularly if you feel your cheeks are too small for your nose and chin. The enhancement can be tailored to your facial shape through the use of different sized implants to achieve the most aesthetically pleasing result.
You may choose to have cheek augmentation surgery if you:
- Feel your cheeks appear thin or sunken
- Want to restore a loss of volume due to ageing
- Feel your cheeks are too small for your nose and chin
Who are the ideal candidates for a cheek enhancement?
Cheek enhancement surgery may not be for everyone for several reasons. Ideal cheek enhancement candidates include those who are:
- Lacking volume in their cheeks either due to their natural face shape or as a result of ageing
- Wanting to enhance the proportions of their face
- Willing to continue a healthy lifestyle after surgery
- Non-smokers or are prepared to not smoke for at least 6 weeks before and after the surgery date
- Realistic with their expectations
- Emotionally prepared to have surgery
Why have a cheek enhancement?
Different people have varying amounts of fat within their cheeks. This fat typically adds volume to the face and is associated with a more youthful appearance. Someone may want to have a cheek enhancement for a number of reasons. They may find that their face is naturally thin or have lost volume as a result of ageing. This lack of volume can make people feel as though they have a hollow or sunken appearance. Adding volume to the cheeks naturally can be very difficult without gaining weight elsewhere on the body. Therefore, people may choose to have a cheek enhancement to restore this volume, creating a fuller facial appearance.
Alternatively, some people find their cheeks are out of proportion to the rest of their facial features, such as the nose and chin. A cheek enhancement will help improve these proportions to create a more balanced facial shape.
A cheek enhancement can:
- Add volume and create a fuller facial appearance
- Create a more youthful appearance by restoring hollow cheeks
- Improve your facial proportions
- Boost your self confidence
In order to increase your suitability for surgery there are a number of ways you can optimise your health. This includes stopping smoking, taking regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and reducing your alcohol intake.
Cheek enhancement consultation
What should I expect during my cheek enhancement consultation?
Your cheek enhancement consultation will typically last 15 minutes to one hour. During the consultation, your surgeon will discuss all aspects of the surgery. Some important topics they should cover include:
- Your motivations to have a cheek enhancement
- Your expectations and desires
- Advice on how to achieve the best results
- The risks and complications of the procedure
- Potential non-surgical options, if appropriate
After discussing the details of the cheek enhancement. Your surgeon will ask you about your medical history. This will include your:
- Current health status
- Past or current medical conditions
- Medications that you are currently taking including herbal remedies and vitamins
- Use of alcohol, tobacco or recreational drugs
- Drug allergies
- Previous surgeries.
Your surgeon will also examine your face and take photos of them for your medical records. They will then present you with your treatment options. The surgeon will base these options on:
- The best surgical approach to the problem you have expressed
- The amount of volume to be added to the cheeks
- Your personal preferences
Questions to ask during your cheek lift consultation
It is very important that you fully understand the procedure. This consultation provides you the opportunity to discuss any feelings you have about the surgery, and ask any questions you may have. We recommend that you ask your surgeon these questions:
- Do you think that what I want to achieve from surgery is realistic?
- What will you expect from me to get the best results?
- How will you perform my procedure?
- Where will my scars be located?
- How long will the recovery period be, and what kind of help will I need in this period?
- Have you performed this surgery before?
- Is it possible to see photos of similar operations you have done?
- Do you think my goals could be achieved with non-surgical options?
At Medbelle, our BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeons want you to achieve the best results possible and therefore it is important that you are honest about what you wish to achieve in the consultation.
How can I prepare for a cheek enhancement?
To improve the experience of your procedure there are certain things you should consider doing in advance. Your surgeon will give you specific advice on what to do prior to having your treatment. We also have some general guidance which may be useful for you. Some of the cheek enhancement preparation tips we recommend include the following:
You may find that after surgery, it may be more comfortable for you to prop yourself up while you sleep. You can help this by having extra pillows ready for the day after your surgery.
You should try to avoid bending over as this may strain any stitches. As a result, you may find it useful to put find it useful to put any items in lower shelves on the kitchen counter. This stops you having to reach down to get them.
After your procedure you will be unable to eat any solid foods for the first few days. As a result, you should do a food shop shortly before your cheek enhancement. This will allow you to find and prepare suitable foods that you can eat after the operation. You could also prepare some meals to put in the freezer so that you do not have to worry about cooking!
Children & pets
As you will need plenty of time to rest and recover, you should ask family and friends to help look after your children and pets for the first week or so after your operation.
It may be useful to clean the house, do your laundry and take the bins out before your operation. This will give you more time to recover!
You will not be able to drive straight after your operation. You should, therefore, ask a family member or friend if they can take you home, or you should arrange transport. If you are finding this difficult, we can help organise your travel.
It will help your recovery process if you maintain a healthy diet. Try to have lots of protein, vegetables, and water. Try to avoid citrus or acidic foods for the first 3-5 days after the operation. These may irritate your incisions.
Make sure you have some comfortable, loose-fitting clothes to wear for after your procedure. We advise wearing tops that can easily fasten from the front to avoid straining your incisions.
If you smoke, try stopping for at least 6 weeks before and after the operation. Smoking can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of complications. As a result, it is very important that you give up during this time to help ensure your surgery goes smoothly as possible.
Your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will give you specific advice regarding how to prepare for your cheek enhancement. It is vital that you follow their advice.
Before your surgery please discuss any medicines that you take with your surgeon and/or anaesthetist. This includes over the counter medications, herbal remedies and any other drugs not prescribed by your doctor. It is important to follow any instructions about adjustments to your medications or medications that you have been told you should stop prior to your surgery. This is particularly important if you are taking any blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or clopidogrel and/or any oral diabetes medications.
Failure to follow instructions regarding your medications is a common cause for cancelled or delayed procedures and one we should all try to avoid wherever possible.
How is a cheek enhancement performed?
The cheek enhancement procedure usually takes between one to two hours. It may be done as a day case but usually requires a one night stay in hospital. Before you come in for your cheek enhancement, you must follow your surgeon’s instructions for eating, drinking and taking medications the night before your surgery. It is essential that you follow this guidance or your surgeon will cancel your surgery.
A cheek enhancement involves the following steps:
1. Consent form
You will have to sign a consent form before having your surgery. You will sign this either on the day of your surgery or during your pre-operative assessment a week before. We advise that you take your time to read the form carefully. This is in order to ensure that you fully understand all the risks, benefits and potential complications of your surgery. Also, be sure to ask any questions you may have before signing your consent form.
After you sign your consent form, your surgeon may want to have a look inside your mouth, or draw some lines on your tummy. They will also discuss the goals of the procedure and what they will be doing.
Your anaesthetist will then give you the anaesthetic. For a cheek augmentation, you can either have a general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation. The type of anaesthetic you are given depends on your surgeon's practice. You and your surgeon will discuss which anaesthetic to use during your first consultation.
After your anaesthetist gives you your anaesthetic, the surgeon will clean and put drapes over the treatment area before making the incisions.
The incisions for cheek augmentation are made inside the cheek at the positions marked in blue in the photo below.
This allows the scar to be hidden inside the mouth. If fat is being taken from the stomach area, a small incision will also be made in the belly button. There are two techniques for cheek augmentation that your surgeon may use.
In this cheek enhancement procedure, the surgeon takes fat from an area such as the stomach or thighs and transfers it to the cheeks. This procedure has an added benefit of removing unwanted fat from the body. Patients that do not want to use artificial implants may prefer this procedure.
Alternatively, the surgeon may use implants instead of fat from the body.
This technique uses the same approach as fat grafting but may give more predictable results. The surgeon uses implant sizers to ensure the best-sized implants for the cheeks. Using implant sizers helps to achieve the best result and most natural appearance.
Incisions shown in blue in the photo above are located inside the mouth so there are no visible incisions on the face.
Your surgeon will discuss the different techniques and suggest which one will achieve the best results for your face. Your BAPRAS/BAAPS approved Medbelle surgeon’s choice will depend on a number of factors. This includes the amount of volume to be added to the cheeks as well as your preferences.
4. Closing the incisions
The surgeon closes the incisions using dissolvable stitches. In addition, they may give you a facial support garment to help reduce any movement post-operatively. You may also have some small drainage tubes put under the skin to help reduce swelling and bruising. Usually, you surgeon will remove these drains before you go home.
5. Return to the ward
After your cheek augmentation procedure, you will recover from the anaesthetic on the ward. You may be able to go home on the same day but it is likely that you will have to spend one night in hospital following the procedure. You should be able to go home to rest the next day.
Cheek enhancement aftercare
What can I expect after a cheek enhancement?
It is important to be aware of what to expect after your operation. Your Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will give you specific instructions on your cheek enhancement aftercare process. This will include time-frames for when you can go back to work, exercise and drive again.
Following your operation, you will be have a post-operative appointment arranged for you. This is usually 1-2 weeks after the operation. During this appointment, your surgeon will examine your face and discuss any potential complications. They will also look at your incisions and remove any stitches if necessary.
Eating and drinking
After your cheek enhancement, you may find it difficult to eat solid foods. As a result, it is recommended that you stick to liquid or softer foods for the first few days. It is also important to avoid acidic or citrus foods for the first few days. As the incisions are made inside the mouth, these foods can irritate the incisions and slow down the healing process. After the first 3-5 days you should be able to start going back to your normal diet.
As the incisions are made inside the mouth, there is no visible scar on the cheeks. However, it is still important to ensure you look after the incision site to help the healing process and avoid complications.
There are a number of techniques that your surgeon may recommend that can aid the healing of your scars following surgery:
- Rinse your mouth out after every meal, this will help prevent food irritating the incision site.
- If you smoke, make sure to stop smoking at least 6 weeks before the surgery and continue to stop for at least 6 weeks after the operation. This is very important in helping the healing process and reduce the risk of infection.
Returning to work
How quickly you can return to work will depend on the nature of your job. For office based work, it is suggested that you take around 7 days off work. For more physical jobs you may need around 7-10 days off. During this time it is important to avoid any straining or heavy lifting. This will help to ensure the healing process is as smooth as possible.
Returning to sport and exercise
Following any operation it is important to gradually ease yourself back into physical activity. We suggest the following post-operative return to exercise:
During the first week you should avoid doing any sport or aerobic exercise. At this stage it is important to focus on the healing process and avoid anything that may cause straining of the face. You should, however, be able to resume light aerobic activity such as walking on a treadmill.
At this stage you will be able to return to more vigorous exercise such as running and cycling.
Around four to six weeks after the operation most of the healing should have taken place. As a result, you will be able to try body contact sports and workouts again.
Depending on the advice that your surgeon gives you, you may not be able to drive for a period of 5 days to 2 weeks after your surgery. You should, therefore, make sure that you have a family member or friend to help you travel during this time period.
It may take some time before you are able to see the final results of your treatment. You should expect to see some bruising and swelling for at least the first 2 to 3 weeks. 6 to 8 weeks after your procedure, you should be able to start seeing the full results of your cheek enhancement. However, it can take 2 to 3 months before the bruising and healing is fully settled. Once your incisions have healed, you should begin to notice a fuller appearance in the cheek area.
As the incisions are inside the mouth there are no outward scars. This helps to speed up the recovery time and improves the aesthetic results.
You must follow your surgeon's cheek enhancement aftercare instructions to ensure that you get the best results possible.
Risks & complications
What are the main cheek enhancement risks & complications?
Before you commit to surgery, our surgeons suggest that you have a two week "cooling-off" period between the consultation and the procedure. This helps to give you time to consider and decide if you wish to proceed with surgery.
Your surgeon will outline any risks and complications associated with your procedure. It is important to read up on these in order to make a fully informed decision regarding surgery. The risks to surgery include:
Tissue or skin necrosis
During surgery, some areas of skin may lose their blood supply causing them to die. This is known as necrosis and is much more likely to occur in smokers. Although it is rare, it is important as it can affect the final results of the surgery. In addition, you may need another operation to correct these problems.
Cheek enhancement surgery can lead to damage or irritation of nerves near the cheeks. This may cause a temporary, or permanent, loss of sensation or movement in the face. Fortunately, this is a rare complication. Having a BAAPS/BAPRAS perform the surgery helps to minimise the risks.
Implant sizers and adequate preoperative planning help ensure the best possible cosmetic result. However, misplacement of the implants or fat can occur leading to asymmetry in the face. Asymmetry can be corrected through additional procedures.
Infection is a risk in any surgery. An infection will typically become apparent over the first two or three weeks when things are not settling down as expected. Mild infections (often wound infections or delayed wound healing) will settle down with antibiotics.
Signs of infection include:
- A temperature over 38° C
- Redness at the incision line that is beginning to spread away from the infection after the first 48 hours
- Yellow pus-like or foul-smelling fluid from the incision
- Increased pain or discomfort that is not relieved by your pain medication
Bruising & bleeding
Mild bruising and bleeding is common following cheek enhancement surgery. This is usually temporary. More severe bleeding may form a collection of blood under the skin, known as a haematoma. This may result in pain, bruising and neck or facial swelling. Haematomas typically occur within 24 hours of the procedure. These complications require medical attention, however it should not affect your final result.
General surgical complications
There are common risks to any surgical procedure. Especially relevant complications include blood clots, risks of anaesthesia, nausea and vomiting and post-operative pain.
Choosing a highly qualified BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon, preparing appropriately and following the aftercare instructions will decrease the chances of you developing any of these arm lift risks and complications.
Cheek enhancement FAQs
This page lists common cheek enhancement FAQs that patients may have. Common questions patients ask include: