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Archive for the ‘cheek implants’ Category

Combining Facelift, Cheek Implants and Laser Resurfacing for Total Facial Rejuvenation

Monday, November 3rd, 2014


When most people think of facial rejuvenation undertandably the thought a facelift emerges. But contrary to popular perception, a facelift only addresses the lower third of the face. While smoothing out the neck and the jawline provides a youthful improvement, it does not address the middle of the face. Even if it could pulling the middle of the face outward would produce an unnatural distortion and is rarely the answer to midface rejuvenation.

Loss of facial volume and removal of tissue support is a well recognized mechanism of facial aging. Thus volume restoration is a very useful approach to helping to reverse midface deflation. This can be done by either malar/submalar implants or fat injections and there are advocates for each approach. Implants tend to produce a more consistent augmentation method that is stable long-term.

Neither a facelift or the addition of volume restoration to the midface will improve the texture of the skin. Chemical peels and laser resurfacing are the known effective approaches for smoothing out fine wrinkles and improving the look of the skin.

A more complete facial rejuvenation approach would include all of these elements from a facelift, midface augmentation and skin resurfacing. In the September 2014 issue of the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery, an article appeared entitled ‘Total Face Rejuvenation: Simultaneous 3-Plane Surgical Approach Combined With Ablative Laser Resurfacing’. In this paper, a retrospective review of 21 female patients (age 58 to 71 years old) undergoing combined extended-SMAS facelift, mid-ace augmentation with implants, and full-face ablative laser resurfacing by a single surgeon was done. None of the facelift skin flaps suffered any healing problems. The skin healed (re-epitheliazed) within ten days and makeup was able to be worn again within two weeks. One hematoma occurred as well as one implant infection. This study showed that all three facial procedures can be performed at the same time.

It has been historically thought that combing certain procedures, such as laser resurfacing and a facelift, runs the risk of skin loss and other healing problems. But this study shows what has been known now for some time that combining multiple facial rejuvenation procedures is not only safe but necessary in most cases to have the best results. As long as the laser resurfacing is not done too deep over the raised skin flaps of the facelift, a negative effect of skin and incisional healing does not occur.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Correction Of Cheek Implant Asymmetry

Saturday, July 26th, 2014


Cheek Implants Indianapolis Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisWhile cheek augmentation can be done by synthetic injectable fillers or fat injections, the only assured permanent method is through the use of preformed implants. Cheek implants come in a variety of styles and sizes and it is critical to make these implant choices thoughtfully to get the desired midface result. The most common aesthetic cheek implant complication, however, is that of asymmetry.

Cheek implants are the second most commonly performed facial implant used behind those used for the chin. But unlike chin implants, cheek augmentation requires the use of two implants that must be placed with their symmetry in mind. But cheek implantation sites can be difficult to see simultaneously and their symmetry is usually assessed by external evaluation of how the cheeks look. But swelling and other tissue distortions can mar the accuracy of this comparative assessment. This external view is complemented by also assessing how the implants rest on the bone between the two sides.

Cheek Implant Shift and Asymmetry Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBut despite the best placement efforts, cheek implant asymmetry can occur. This could be due to initial asymmetric implant placement or a migration/shift of the implant afterwards. Due to the size of the implant pocket initially, unsecured cheek implants can shift move right after surgery. (early displacement) It is very rare to have a cheek implant change position months or years later (late displacement) although it can happen. Why a cheek implant would have such a delayed shift in position long after the enveloping capsule (scar) around it has been created and healed could be infection or a reactive seroma formation. Surgery performed near the implant can also cause an implant  reaction and subsequent shift. (picture shows a CT scan with cheek implants at two different positions and a reactive fluid collection around the left cheek implant as it moves its way towards the mouth incision)

Cheek Implant Repositioning Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisCheek implant reposition surgery can be performed but is rarely as simple as just ‘moving the implant around’. Because scar tissue forms around all synthetic materials, repositioning of implants usually requires some form of capsulectomy/capsulotomy. (releasing or excising portions of the existing implant’s pocket) In addition, it is critically important to secure the cheek implant into the new position and this is most reliably done by screw fixation with self-tapping titanium 1.5mm microscrews. A layered closure over the implant consisting of muscle and mucosa is also important to keep as much soft tissue between the intraoral cavity and the implant pocket.

Because of the path of cheek implant insertion, asymmetry or migration of the implant is usually downward towards the location of the incision. This occurs also because the cheek bone is sloped downward and the maxillary bone underneath it is concave, making movement in that direction easy. Thus , most cheek implant repositioning is moving the implant back up over the bone.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

A Facial Implant Approach To Volume Restoration in Facial Wasting (Severe Lipoatrophy)

Sunday, June 29th, 2014


Fat loss in the face is referred to as facial lipoatrophy. While some people have it occur naturally with aging or weight loss, for others it is a medication side effect. While retroviral drugs have extended the lives of patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), one of its well know side effects is the loss of the facial fat compartments. This has become known as facial wasting since it is an abnormal and active process. In facial lipoatrophy terms, there are various degrees of it classified as I through V. Many HIV positive patients have advanced type IV and V facial lipoatrophy appearances.

While facial wasting affects all fat layers in the face, its biggest impact is on the buccal fat pad. With its numerous fingers of fat that extend throughout the face and up into the temple region, loss of the buccal fat pad creates a skeletonized and hollow facial appearance. In its fullest extent, it makes one look ill and unhealthy and carries the social stigmata of someone who has the disease.

It has been shown that thymidine analogue drugs are the cause of this facial lipoatrophy effect. Recovery of some of the lost fat can be achieved with a switch to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-sparing therapies but it is slow and never complete.Various forms of plastic surgery are needed to create a more dramatic and immediate facial change.

Facial rejuvenation procedures for facial wasting is focused on volume restoration around  the periorbital region (eyes), specifically that of the cheeks and temple regions. The temple hollowing is a pure soft tissue deficit while that of the cheek area is a combined bone and soft tissue deficit. This is not to say that the cheek has lost bone but that it has become very skeletonized adn looks withered, thus cheek (malar = bone) and the area below the cheek (submalar = soft tissue) needs building back up.

While there are injectable treatments available to treat facial wasting, synthetic (Sculptra) and natural (fat), they have favorable degrees of effectiveness. Sculptra injections are for those patients who are definitely opposed to surgery and have the patience to wait until their fill effect is seen…and then have it repeated 18 to 24 months later. Fat injections are problematic both in harvest and persistence. Many facial wasting have little fat to harvest and its ability to survive in tissue beds with very little subcutaneous fat is precarious at best.

Temple Implants in Facial Wasting result front view Dr Barry Eppley Indianapolis_edited-1A facial implant approach can be very successful and create an immediate volume restoration with long-term stability. The temple hollowing is treated with new soft silicone elastomer temple implants that are placed below the fascia but on top of the muscle. This camouflages the implant edges and is a remarkably simple procedure to insert them with no postoperative pain, little swelling and a very quick recovery. They are far superior to any injectable filler because they are so effective. They key in using them is to not pout in a size that is too big which is very easy to do in a very skeletonized temporal region.

Cheek Implants for Facial Wasting Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisThe cheek area requires a very broad-based implant, part of which is placed below the cheek bone on the masseter muscle. Proper implant placement actually puts at least half if not more of the implant below the bone. While once submalar cheek implants were exclusively used, I have found that larger combined malar-submalar shell implants do a better job of midface volume restoration. Because these type of cheek implants are substantative in size, screw fixation is useful to keep them in the desired location as they heal.

One area that is left out with temple and malar-submalar shell implants is the intervening area over the zygomatic arch and immediately beneath it into the lower face. A complete facial wasting surgery includes implantation of this area as well but has to be done with either fat injections or preferably a dermal-fat graft placed through a limited facelift approach. Without filling in this area there can be a step-off in the face behind where the malar-submalar shell implant ends.

Facial wasting treatment is one specialized form of facial reshaping surgery. These procedures allowing for volume restoration of the face hopefully to a level that is close to what they looked like before starting their anti-viral drugs. With a more ‘plump’ face, one self-confidence is improved, they look healthier and they will be encouraged to stick with their long-term drug therapy.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Facelift Approach in the HIV-Positive Patient

Sunday, June 15th, 2014


Facelift surgery is performed on a wide variety of patients, regardless of age, gender, race or medical condition. There are nuances in facelift surgery for all of these differing patient considerations that can alter the technique and the tissues manipulated to optimize outcomes. The greatest nuances amongst facelift techniques is in what tissues below the skin are lifted, resuspended or excised.

HIV patients can very safely undergo facelift surgery and are not usually at any increased risk of infection if their cell counts are adequate. What is unique about the HIV patient, whether they are young or old, is the change in the fat compartments of the face. For many HIV-positive patients, facial fat wasting (lipoatrophy) is well known and is believed to be the result of antiretroviral therapies. While facial wasting is the most recognized facial fat change in HIV, some patients will develop a more generalized lipodystrophy syndrome which can include unencapsulated fatty deposits, often seen around the parotid glands and into the neck.

In the September 2013 issue of the Annals of Plastic Surgery, an article appeared entitled ‘Facelift in a Patient With Benign Symmetric Lipomatosis and HIV Facial Lipoatrophy’ In this case report, this peculiar combination of fat deformities was managed with a modified facelift and fat excision. Recurrence of the abnormal fat collections did not recur. This report is unique in that it is one of the few in the medical literature that uses a facelift approach for treating the abnormal fat collections in the face.

The most common treatment of the HIV face is that of soft tissue volume augmentation. The mild to severe wasting in the cheeks and temples creates a classic appearance that can only be corrected by fat injection, synthetic fillers, implants or combinations of any of these three augmentation methods. In my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice, the combination of malar-submalar shell and temporal shell implants with dermal-fat grafts added to the lower midface region has been a very successful approach to sustained correction of these volume-deficient facial areas.

But as the HIV patients ages, loose skin develops on the face, jawline and neck as it would in any other person. The development of loose skin may be exaggerated by the fat volume loss that is present. Thus some older HIV patients will benefit by a combined facelift (usually without any SMAS manipulation) with the placement of a dermal-fat graft into the shrunken buccal fat pad space. This can be combined with malar (cheek) implants) for an even more complete facial rejuvenation/voluminization effect.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Contemporary Cheek Implant Options

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014


Of all the potential areas of facial skeletal augmentation, cheek implants are the second most commonly performed location. Having noticeable and strong cheek bones is considered just about part of every aesthetically pleasing face, There are gender and other ‘look’ differences in the dimensions of the cheek prominences but their presence is a key aesthetic element of an attractive and proportionate face.

Unlike the chin or the nose, the cheeks represent a paired area of facial bone prominences and this accounts for some of the unique considerations when surgically enhancing them. The cheek implants must not only be symmetrically placed but must have the right shape and size to give the cheeks their desired look.

While cheek implants used to be thought as two oblong shapes that were positioned right over the front edge of the zygomas (cheeks), that original approach was just the first step in how far cheek augmentation has come today. Understanding the different shapes of contemporary cheek implants can create a cheek look that best suits their face. They fundamentally break down into three types based on what area of the cheek they augment.

Malar Shell Cheek Implants Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisThe traditional cheek implant is now described as a Malar Shell. It is called that because it sits over the curved zygoma and augments it in a near 120 degree arc. It most closely mimics the natural shape of one’s zygoma and just makes it bigger. For people with flat cheekbones from the lateral infraorbital rim down, particularly those who have a negative vector, this implant produces a natural and not overly prominent effect.

Submalar Cheek Implant Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisIn the mid-1990s, the submalar implant was a revolutionary improvement in the few cheek implant styles that were available. It is designed to sit on the lower half of the cheek bone, creating more fullness below the cheekbone prominence and helping to pick up any sagging cheek tissues. It was even touted as a volumetric midface lift. It creates that effect in the patient with midface aging as well as one who has submalar hollowing from facial lipoatrophy.

Combined Submalar Shell Cheek Implant Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisFor those patients who are in need of a more total cheek augmentation effect combining the malar and submalar areas, there is the Submalar Shell implant which can also be called the Midface Implant. Putting the two together gives a combined bone augmentation to the cheek prominence and a volumetric fill to the area below…a combined bone and soft tissue effect.

Midface Implant Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisGoretex-Coated Cheek Implants Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisWhile not a different style, several features have been added to these cheek implant shapes that help them adapt to the bone better and provide increased soft tissue fixation. The Conform feature is that implant is no longer a solid piece but has a grid pattern on its backside that allows the ultimate in adaptability to the bone.  (increased flexibility) The addition of a 0.3mm layer of Gore-Tex on the outside of the silicone implant provides a semi-porous outer layer for soft tissue to quickly grow into and fix the implant in position. (if a screw is not being used)

Selecting the cheek zones to augment is the key in selecting the proper cheek implant style. Selecting the right size of implant, however, is more of an art than an exact science as there is no quantitative measurement to make that determination. But in general it is usually better to be more conservative (smaller) than one would think as these broader surface area cheek implants of today can create a bigger effect than one might think when just holding them in your hand.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Options in Cheek and Midface Enhancement for the Aging Face

Sunday, January 26th, 2014


The one facial feature that is most associated with a youthful looking face is that of the cheeks. Firm uplifted and rounded cheeks are what is seen in younger people, flat deflated cheeks are usually seen as many people age. It is the loss of cheek volume that contributes to a tired looking and aged appearance. While browlifts and eyelid surgery for the upper face and neck and jawline lifts for the lower face have been around for decades, the intervening zone between the two has caught a lot more interest of late.

Cheek and midface rejuvenation  is the last facial region to receive a lot of attention from both surgical and non-surgical treatments. Numerous good options exist today including the use of synthetic implants , cheek lifts , fat injections and expanded uses of injectable fillers. While  each of these cheek enhancement treatments have their advocates and critics, it is important to realize that the controversy is more about indications and less about effectiveness.

Midfacial Implants Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisOne of the first treatments for midface rejuvenation was that of silicone cheek implants, specifically the submalar implant style.  By adding volume to the underside of the cheekbone, a subtle but visible lift of the midface was obtained through a combined voluminization and positional effect.  Restoring fullness to the ‘apple’ area of the cheek removes the midface flatness. The submalar cheek implant has now been expanded to incorporate more of the cheek area through a new style known as the malar shell.  The biggest benefit of using implants is that they create permanent volume but yet can be completely and easily reversed if needed. Any concern about implant stability or shifting is removed by screw fixation to the bone.  There is never any concern about implant settling/erosion in the cheek bones. Such facial implants have proven over the years to be very safe and effective when well placed with a very low risk of problems.

While cheek lifts (midface lifts) were the rage a decade ago for midface rejuvenation, they have fallen considerably out of favor. Beyond the complication risk of lower eyelid deformity (ectropion), the concept of lifting up fallen or sagging cheeks has not proven to be effective or sustainable alone over the long -term. Cheek lifts, as part of an extended blepharoplasty, still have a midface rejuvenation role but they need to be combined with the addition of volume through the concurrent insertion of cheek implants or with fat injections.

The real revolution in cheek enhancement has been through the use of injectable fillers. This has not only made it possible for a wide array of practititoners to engage in midfacial augmentation but the number of filler options is considerable. With injectable fillers, it is theoretical possible that just about every patient over 40 years of age could benefit by some degree of volume addition. Younger patients may only need a single syringe or less while older patients may need multiple syringes over broader areas.

The injection location for filler placement is based on an understanding of aesthetic cheek anatomy. A youthful cheek has a three-dimensional shape with the greatest projection producing a light reflex at the apex of the cheek. This point is often described by the intersection of lines drawn down from the lateral canthus of the eye to one drawn from the corner of the mouth to the tragus of the ear. But the injector must use an artistic assessment as to what looks best for each patient.

Juvederm Voluma Cheek Injectable Filler Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisWhile many fillers exist for midface injection, the hyaluronic acid-based (HA) fillers are associated with the best safety profiles. The more robust HA fillers, such as Juvederm, works best as their higher G prime (stiffness) allows the cheek tissues to be lifted effectively with less volume than other fillers. A game changer in cheek fillers has been the introduction of Voluma late last year. As an extension of the HA product Juvederm, Voluma was specifically made and studied for the cheeks/midface. Its unique properties allow it to lift tissues effectively and it persists for over a year.

Fat injections has grown tremendously in popularity over the past decade and the cheeks is one of its prime targets in the face. It is a treatment option between injectable fillers and synthetic implants.  It offers a more less invasive option than implants but with the potential for a longer-lasting result than injectable fillers. The key variable in this equation is the unpredictability of how well injected fat survives. While the cheek is one of the most favorable areas for fat survival in the face, it is still wildly unpredictable. The appeal of its natural composition is counterbalanced by the risk of partial or complete resorption.

When factoring all the advantages and disadvantages of every cheek enhancement option,  it is a balance of the magnitude of the problem vs. how much effort one wants to invest in the treatment. For the younger patient with early facial aging concerns, injectable fillers are the best treatment unless they are having surgery for other aesthetic issues (e.g., rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction). Then fat injections would be worth the effort in the hope for a long lasting result. For the older patient with more moderate to more advanced midfacial aging, implants are the best treatment as other facial rejuvenation procedures are being simultaneously done. Fat injections are a good choice for those patients who are opposed to implants but they should not expect the same predictable volume result.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Options for Natural Cheek Augmentation

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013


One of the key features of an attractive and youthful face is the cheek area. The desire for fuller cheeks, however, is driven more than just by that of model and celebrity faces. Part of the aging process is losing volume (fat) in the cheeks and temple areas, creating more hollowed or gaunt type look. For those that start out with thinner faces, this process is more accentuated even earlier in the aging process. This form of facial aging can not be treated by any form of a facelift or tissue shifting approach. It requires restoration of facial volume.

So it is no surprise that plastic surgeons over the years have used every available option in their armamentarium to reshape and lift the cheek area. While once only able to be treated by synthetic implants up to the early 1990s, injectable fillers of differing compositions for cheek enhancement became a dominant force over the past two decades as they have surged in popularity. The use of autologous fat in just a few short years has also become now a major tool for use in the cheek.

The single greatest advantage to synthetic injectable fillers for cheek enhancement is its immediate result. The hyaluronic acid-based fillers, such as Restylane or Juvederm, offer the greatest margin of safety because of their lack of inflammatory response and assured resorption profiles. Other fillers such as Radiesse and Sculptra offer longer results but a somewhat higher risk of soft tissue reactions to their particulated content. Composition aside, the biggest disadvantage to fillers is that they are temporary. (which is also their advantage) This makes them expensive to maintain over time if one likes the result. But they are actually a low cost approach to doing a trial cheek enhancement that is completely reversal. Using a microcannula delivery technique, injectable fillers can now be delivered painlessly and without bruising.

On the surface, fat carries with it many of the same features as synthetic materials because it is injected. But beyond being injectable, it is a very different filler material. Because it is harvested from each individual patient, there is no chance of any inflammatory reaction and a very low risk of infection. It’s other tremendous advantage is that there is no limit on the volume that can be injected (in the small face) and its inherent composition of stem cells has its own list of theoretical advantages. In addition, it is done for a set procedure price rather than by a cc cost for synthetic fillers. It is similarly injected by small cannulas so placement can be very exact without bruising. The best fat placement is down at the bone level and in the muscle, where survival is better. But with all these advantages comes two distinct disadvantages…it is a minor surgical procedure and there is no assurance as to how much fat will survive. For these reasons, fat grafting is often advocated when the patient is in surgery for other procedures (e.g., facelift, lkipsouction etc) or the patient has been previously qualified by having had successful cheek augmentation with synthetic fillers.

Implants offer the one permanent method of cheek enhancement. With no external scarring as a result of being placed from inside the mouth, implants are not only permanent but can provide the most dramatic of cheek augmentation effects. The most difficult aspect of using cheek implants is selecting the proper style and size. With dozens of implant options the choices can be overwhelming and there is no clear-cut quantitative way to know what effect the implant will create in any particular patient. It can also be surprising how much change can occur in the cheeks from what appears to be a relatively small implant.The cheek is a very volume-sensitive area. So it is always better to ‘undersize’ or choose a size below what you think you should use in many cases. The disadvantages to cheek implants are infection, displacement and asymmetry. Fortunately infections are very uncommon and displacement can be circumvented by securing the implant position with small self-tapping screw fixation. Avoiding asymmetry is a matter of experience and matching carefully the position of the implant in reference to various bony landmarks.

With three cheek augmentation options available, how does any patient know what is best for them? Cheek augmentation is a lot more art than it is science and appreciating the underlying bony anatomy, the overall facial shape and what look the patient is after is key. But you have to take the whole patient into analysis not just the cheeks. Thin people with low body fat may do poorly with fat grafting, the devout non-surgery patient can only have synthetic fillers, or those seeking the most efficient and long-term method may opt for implants. Good cheek results defy a cookie-cutter approach and the most natural outcomes come from knowing how to use all three…occasionally even blending two of the techniques together.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Understanding Cheek Implant Augmentation

Monday, December 31st, 2012


Implant augmentation of the cheeks provides a valuable facial structural enhancement as well as is useful for an anti-aging effect. For many women, it may be the most critical aesthetic facial prominence (short of the nose) in contrast to men where it is the chin and the jawline. The cheek in both genders, however, can make the face more bold, defined and attractive. But cheek augmentation is a procedure that is harder to predict the  implant’s effect on males or females because it is a curved facial feature that defies any exact mathematical measurement like most other facial features.

When one factors in the many different styles and sizes of cheek implants, not to mention the different manufacturers and materials, there may be upwards of near100 different cheek implants to choose from. How does one know what is the best cheek implant to choose for this midfacial area? There are numerous factors to consider but the first is to recognize the gender differences in desired cheek shapes. Men desire and look better with a more chiseled cheek appearance that is often described as angular . This is a high more sharply defined cheek look. Conversely, women usually desire and look better with a less angular fuller cheek. This round cheek creates a softer more feminine appearance.

Because the cheek is not seen at its best in either a frontal or a profile view, it defies any exact measuring system. The influence of the cheek is best seen in a quarter or oblique profile view which is how most people see your face anyway. It is possible to isolate the most optimal area of cheek enhancement by the intersection of an oblique line drawn from the corner of the mouth to the corner of the eye and a horizontal line drawn outward from the top of the nostrils. Higher up from this intersection is where male cheek prominence should be while more near the intersection is where female cheek prominence should be. But no measurement can tell one about the best cheek implant size. This is where the role of intraoperative implant sizers and the aesthetic judgment of the surgeon comes into play.

Cheek implants are used for four types of aesthetic facial issues. The most common indication is for inadequate cheek volume or an underdeveloped cheek area. The cheeks simply did not develop with the desired amount of aesthetic projection.  Asymmetry of the cheeks is another indication which can occur from mild to more severe forms of facial hypoplasia or from cheekbone fractures that were not adequately treated or not diagnosed at the time of the injury. Ethnic cheek augmentation is a third use of implants that represent a form of cheek ‘underdevelopment’ but is really more of an effort to change one’s basic facial shape.This is most commonly seen in Asian and African-American patients where improved cheek projection is desired as one of the maneuvers to change their facial shape. Lastly, which is not really a bone-problem, are the effects of aging. The soft tissues of the cheek are pulled downward towards the mouth area, revealing what appears to be a cheek deficiency. Pushing the soft tissue upwards with an implant is more important here than pure bone augmentation.

When selecting the style of cheek implants, it is important to realize what area of the cheek bone needs to be augmented. If it is a high angular look that one wants, then the cheek implant should be more narrow so that it does not augment the lower or front edge of the cheek bone. For rounder fuller cheeks, the implant needs to be wider to cover the entire cheek bone including its lower edge. To widen the face, which means the posterior edge of the cheek bone and onto the zygomatic arch, the implant design needs to extend further back or be positioned further back on the cheek bone. If the soft tissue of the cheek needs to be lifted, then the implant should have its greatest prominence on the bottom of the cheek bone or the submalar area. Thinking about how the shape of the cheek bone needs to be changed is how the style of cheek implant is selected and one can then easily work their way through the maze of implant options.

One cheek implant issue that is chronically debated is the choice of implant material, which is fundamentally either silicone or Medpor. While there are advocates of either material, what really matters is whether it have the right shape for the area of desired cheek augmentation. Your body does not really care which material is implanted. It will react the same by enveloping it a capsule of scar. The only real difference is that a Medpor implant will be harder to remove or adjust its position but not impossible. Regardless of the material, it is always best to secure the cheek implant into permanent position with a self-tapping 1.5mm screw, one for each side.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cheek Augmentation – Preventing Complications and Improving Outcomes

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Cheek augmentation is done for a variety of different aesthetic reasons. Besides the obvious need to fill out a sunken in cheek appearance and improve facial balance, they are just as commonly used for an anti-aging effect. By augmenting the soft submalar tissue to fill midfacial hollows, the lifting of this tissue provides a facial rejuvenating effect and may even soften the depth of the nasolabial fold beneath it. This tissue lifting or anti-aging effect is unique amongst facial implants.

The shape of the cheekbone and its location between the convex orbital rim and the concave maxillary wall make it the most complex facial area to augment from an aesthetic standpoint. Where along the cheekbone should the implant be positioned and what shape and size of implant should be used are what the plastic surgeon ponders. There really are no guidelines as to how to exactly to make these selections. Artistic technique is as important as any type of scientific approach. This high degree of variability lends to revision rates that are higher than any other facial implant currently used.

Cheek implant complications usually are of two types, undesired aesthetic outcome and implant shifting or migration. Unhappy outcomes come from either an implant that is too big or positioned in the wrong location. Either way, an unnatural appearance often results. Because of where cheek implants are located, they catch attention almost as much as one’s nose or eyes. Cheek implants come in a variety of sizes and shapes but can fundamentally be divided into malar and submalar implants. Malar implants being placed on top of the zygomatic bone and submalar implant highlighting the underside of the bone. (submalar hollow or buccal space) Malar implants have different extension that either go back further onto the zygomatic arch, up around the lateral orbital wall , or anteriorly along the underside of the orbital rim. Because of these variable implant shapes, it takes a good aesthetic eye and communication with a patient beforehand to get a good result.

Cheek implants are also unique because of where they are positioned on the zygomatic bone. They often are sort of hanging from the side of the cliff, which makes them prone to shifting. Shifting will usually occur in a downward direction from whence they were initially inserted, which is usually through the mouth. For this reason, it is possible for cheek implants to shift around and end up with asymmetry. This is particularly true if the implant is made from silicone which is very smooth and slippery. Other implant composition have a much greater frictional grip on the bone and will not move as easily.

One interesting silicone cheek implant design which can effectively address the shifting problem is that of the Conform midfacial implant. Its undersurface is not smooth silicone but rather a pebbly or nubbed surface. The many little ‘’fingers’ of silicone allow it to develop some degree of frictional gripping to the bone surface. Also when soft tissue grows around it, the capsule will absolutely lock it into place. This is very similar to the concept of placing a textured surface on a breast implant which was developed nearly twenty years ago. Its shape also allows it to be trimmed and used as either a malar or submalar implant. 

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana




Midface Rejuvenation – Cheek Lifts vs Cheek Implants

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

As one ages, the entire face changes. Some parts of facial aging are more obvious than others as the face does differentially age. The forehead, brows, eyes, mouth, jawline and neck are all areas whose aging is well recognized. The aging of the midface and cheek areas, however, has only become more recently recognized.

With the aging process, the fatty tissue that normally drapes over the cheekbones can begin to sag. The result is less prominent cheekbones, and a droopy fold of skin and fat between the nose and the cheek (the nasolabial fold). The sagging cheek fat can also alter the appearance of the lower cheek. For example, bagginess of the lower eyelids often becomes more apparent after the fat of the upper cheek begins to sag. This in essence ‘unveils’ the bagginess of the lower lids, which have always been there. In addition to sagging of the skin and fat of the midface, there is also volume loss in the cheek due to loss of fat and muscle.

A number of cheek lift or midface lift procedures exist to address this aging area. The goal of all of them is to lift up droopy cheek tissue over the cheekbone restoring the more prominent youthful contour, improving the tear trough and bagginess of the lower lids, and softening the undesirable cheek fold. Fundamentally, they may be divided into lifting approaches vs volumetric addition. In some cases, they may even be done together.

Lifting approaches aim to reposition the sagging fat of the cheek over the cheekbone to restore the youthful fullness of the cheeks. Such midface lifts use differing access including the lower eyelid, scalp, and temporal incisions using open incisional or endoscopic instrumentation. Implants have also been devised to provide less invasive options including suspension sutures and bone-anchored lift devices. The plethora of differing lifting approaches suggests that no one of them is universally successful.

Contrarily, cheek implants have also been used to help create a degree of cheek lifting. By placing an implant through the mouth onto the cheek bone, some fullness is added to the volume-depleted cheek and the cheek tissue on top of the implant is pushed upward. While not creating as dramatic effect as a lifting procedure, it is far simpler and with fewer complications. This cheek lift approach, using a specially designed submalar implant which fits on the underside of the cheek bone, has been around for nearly two decades. When used in the right patient and properly sized, it can have a good cheek enhancement effect. But it is also easily overused and overdone (too large a size) as older celebrity faces are rife with examples of odd-looking and peculiar cheek prominences due to oversized implants.

Given the choices between cheek lifts and cheek implants, which is the most helpful for cheek rejuvenation? The answer is no one of them is best for all patients. Over the years, I have used almost of all of them in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice….and have also seen and learned the downsides to each of them. Midface or cheek rejuvenation is as much an art form as almost any area of anti-aging facial surgery. Given the potential complications that can occur with lifting procedures, most specifically lower eyelid ectropion, their use should be reserved for the most severe sagging cheek problems. More moderate cases with less prominent cheekbones may benefit with a small to moderate-sized implant. In all cases, moderation is the key…not too much lift or too big of an implant. The midface is one area that does not look good overdone and is easy to do.

Barry L. Eppley, M.D., D.M.D.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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