Prominent cheekbones are one of the key features of an attractive face. Cheek augmentation can help restore the well-formed cheekbones you used to have when you were young, or if you have never had well-defined cheekbones, cheek implants may give your face the desired contour of higher cheekbones. Cheek implants are made in various shapes and sizes, depending on the area to be augmented. They are typically made out of permanent solid materials that have been used successfully for years.
Cheek implant by Sam Naficy, MD
The cheek implants are typically inserted through hidden incisions inside the mouth, between the upper lip and the gums. The implant of the proper size and shape is then inserted through these incisions into a pocket created over the bone. After proper healing, the implants typically feel as if they are part of your own cheekbone.
What material is used for cheek augmentation?
The materials of choice for cheek augmentation are Silastic (medical-grade silicone rubber) and Gore-Tex. Because the implants rest directly on top of bone, they feel as if they were part of the bone itself. These cheek implants are stable over time and do not reabsorb so the results are permanent. As an alternative to cheek implants, fat injections may be used to augment the cheeks, although the fat may disappear over time. A cheek lift may also be used to replace the sagging cheek fat back over the cheekbones.
What type of anesthesia is used?
We use IV sedation anesthesia, which is a very safe and effective method of anesthesia for facial plastic surgery and rhinoplasty. IV sedation anesthesia is extremely safe compared to the standard general anesthesia techniques used today. The main advantages of IV sedation anesthesia are: (i) it does not require putting a breathing tube in the throat, (ii) it does not require a breathing machine, (iii) the recovery is much faster, (iv) there is much less "hang-over" from anesthesia, (v) and there is much less nausea. All these elements translate into greater comfort and safety. Dr. Naficy has used this technique of anesthesia in several thousand plastic surgery procedures without any anesthetic complications.
During IV sedation anesthesia a small flexible IV (intravenous) needle is placed into one of the veins of the back of the hand. Through this IV line, relaxing medication is given to make you fall sleep. The amount of medication given is adjusted to the specific needs of each person. After you are sleeping, some numbing medicine is also placed in the skin to numb the area that is being operated on. The beauty of IV sedation anesthesia is that during the procedure you are unaware of anything going on and cannot hear anything, yet you are still breathing on your own.
When the procedure is finished, the relaxing medication is discontinued and you begin to wake up. Because the medications used in IV sedation anesthesia clear the system rather quickly, most of our patients are able to go home in less than 30 minutes after the procedure is completed.
Anesthesia guidelines [21kb PDF]
What is the recovery like?
The cheeks may feel tight, swollen and chewing may be uncomfortable in the days following the surgery. Pain medication is used to lessen discomfort. Movement of the mouth and hard chewing should be limited. Stitches in the mouth dissolve in approximately 10 days. The majority of the swelling subsides quickly, although the results of the surgery may not be plainly visible for as long as 3 or 4 months.
Post-operative care instructions [12kb PDF]
I am interested! What do I do next?
If you are considering cheek augmentation we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Naficy in our office. During this visit he will listen to your concerns and discuss your options. He will tell you whether you are a suitable candidate for this procedure and inform you of the alternatives and potential risks of the procedure.
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