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Posts Tagged ‘cheek enhancement’

Contemporary Cheek Enhancement – Malar and Submalar Zone Considerations

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

The cheek or the midface region plays an important role in facial appearance. As one of the five facial bony prominences (brow, nose, chin, and jaw angles are the others), it is actually the most complex. It lacks any sharp angles, is made up of several bones that intersect together and is surrounded by three distinctly different soft tissue regions. While everyone appreciates that a high and strong cheekbone is desireable, it is not easy to quantitate what that should look like unlike chin projection or jaw angle width which can be actually be measured.

Rather than some absolute number, the cheek region is better recognized for what it does for facial shape and width. As part of understanding cheek morphology, one should not forget how the soft tissue below it affects how the bone looks above. Known as the submalar (below the cheek) region, it is affected by the size and prominence of the buccal fat pad. This golf ball-sized fat collection can be surprisingly large and it helps make for a rounder and fuller cheek region appearance. If the buccal fat pad is very large, it can make this area protrude or be quite ‘cheeky’. If this and other facial areas are small or atrophic, the facial shape may assume a more gaunt appearance.

Therefore when assessing the cheek area, the consideration of both bone (malar) and buccal fat (submalar) areas should be done. Implant manufacturers have recently showed an appreciation for this concept by expanding traditional cheek implants to include either (malar and submalar) or both. (combined submalar shells) Combinations of malar and submalar changes can often make for a better cheek result than just a ‘simple cheek’ implant alone. In some cases, cheek bone enhancement and some submalar reduction (buccal fat removal) may produce better cheek highlights. In other cases, submalar augmentation or a combined malar-submalar augmentation may be aesthetically better.

The uniqueness of  each person’s face and their desired cosmetic outcome must be taken into consideration when planning changes in this area. Removal, or more accurately, reduction of the buccal fat pad (buccal lipectomy) is a surgically simple procedure but it’s decision to do so is more aesthetically complex. Through a very small incision inside the mouth opposite the maxillary first or second molars, the buccal fat pad can be gently teased out. When doing at the same time as some type of midfacial implant, it can be done through the same incision. How much one removes is a matter of judgment. As a general rule, it is not a good idea to try and remove all of it. Not only may that be undesireable in facial appearance in the long-term, but there are several buccal branches of the facial nerve which interlace with the multi-lobed buccal fat pad. They exist most commonly on the superficial (outer) aspect of the buccal lobe, away from the area of intraoral manipulation. For this reason, aggressive buccal lipectomies may inadvertently damage these branches. I have never observedfacial nerve injury from a buccal lipectomy procedure but this attests to a more conservative resection philosophy. In uncommon cases with a very full and ‘fat’ face, a more complete buccal lipectomy may be justified. Such an approach works well when ‘fat-reducing or facial thinning’ procedures are being done such as neck liposuction and/or chin or cheek implants.

Conversely, submalar augmentation rather than reduction may be needed to help fill out a thin or gaunt facial appearance. While initially developed for lifting sagging cheek tissues over ten years ago, the submalar implant is much more commonly used to add soft tissue fullness rather than a lifting effect. If the cheek prominence is adequate but the underlying submalar region is thin or ‘sucked inward’ (indented), than an isolated submalar implant may suffice. If the overall cheek (malar and submalar) is too flat or deficient, then a combined malar-submalar implant may be needed.

When considering cheek augmentation as part of an overall facial improvement plan, both the malar and submalar regions must be considered together. Between expanded submalar implant designs and buccal lipectomies,  a more comprehensive approach with satisfying surgical results is now available.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Common Concerns about Cheek Implant Surgery

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

A face that has good skeletal contours, which some would call sculpted, is desired by many young men and women. The appearance of high cheekbones is one important element of achieving such a look. Cheekbones create a well-defined face by creating an upper facial prominence which makes the lower face look thinner. Such a facial look is seen as ‘model-like’ as is reflected in much of our society’s advertising.

In performing cheek augmentation, there are numerous typical questions that prospective patients may have about the procedure. In my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice, here are some of the most common.

Q: I am afraid if I get cheek implants that it may look unnatural. I have seen some Hollywood people that supposedly have them and they look fake. Will this happen to me?

A: That is an avoidable result. In choosing the right cheek implant for any patient, three factors are considered…the selection of the patient, the size and shape of the implant, and properly positioning them  during surgery. Not every person will benefit from cheek implants, the whole face must be considered. Rounder and fuller faces are not usually good candidates. There are different styles and sizes of implants available. As a general rule, it is always best to not overdo them. A subtle enhancement is more aesthetically pleasing than being too big. The implant must be positioned and secured over the curve of the cheekbone that is most deficient.

Q:  I want higher cheekbones but do I need to have a scar to get that look?

A:  All facial implants need an incision to be placed into the bone site. Surgical access to the cheek is done from inside the mouth high up under the upper lip so there is no visible scar.

Q: My face looks very flat. Do I need more than just cheek augmentation?

A: Some patients have more significant flattening of the middle part of their face that involves the upper jaw (maxilla) as well. While increasing cheek projection is helpful, that alone may not be enough. In this case, another set of implants can be placed along the paranasal area. (base of the nose) These two sets of implants can help bring out the entire middle part of the face into better balance with the lower jawline.

Q: What is the most common complication that occurs with this type of cheek surgery?

A: Implant asymmetry. Because cheek augmentation is a ‘paired’ surgery, both implants must be placed exactly the same. That sounds simple but slight differences in angulation and orientation of the implant may be able to be seen when the swelling subsides after surgery. This may require adjustment secondarily.

Q: How much time will I need off work to recover from cheek enhancement surgery?

A: Cheek implants will cause some obvious swelling but it is not significantly painful. Once can return to any type of work in one week but the cheeks will still be noticeably swollen. It will take at least two weeks before the cheeks will not temporarily unnatural.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cheek Implants for the Aging Face

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

One of the common facial aging changes for some people is the loss of fullness in the middle of the face and a longer distance between the height of the lower eyelid and the prominence of the cheek. This is most apparent when you look in the mirror and notice a flattening of the cheek area and a hollowed out look around your eyes.  This occurs as the soft tissue of the cheeks, much like the jowls and neck skin, goes south due to gravity and skin loosening. The specific anatomic reason is that the ligaments that attach the skin to the bone weakens  or stretches out and the skin that is stretched out over the cheek bone falls. This can also appears as folds or festoons of skin that hang down from the lower eyelid to below the cheek.

 To improve  this cheek ‘deflation’, adding volume through cheek implants is one approach. By ‘re-inflating the cheek by putting an implant underneath it, the cheek tissue is lifted back up and the cheek highlight or prominence is restored…or even made more evident. In my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice, I perform cheek implantation by making small incisions inside the mouth above the gum line with no visible external incisions and this is my preferred approach in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice. Cheek implants can also be placed through a lower eyelid incision but this is prone to placing the implant too high. There is no evidence in the medical literature or in my experience that an increased infection risk exists by going through the mouth.

This relatively simple surgery gives a notable richness to the face resulting in a more rejuvenated look. The face also seems to age better after cheek augmentation as the implant helps lessen the potential for future sagging. Cheek enhancement can be done at the same time as a facelift, resulting in a dual change that can be more significant.

In the use of cheek implants in the aging face, it is common to see it overdone. Too much cheek enhancement can look unnatural and be apparent that something was done. A subtle change is more natural and less obvious. Cheek implants come in a variety of sizes and shapes and it is far better to use a small or the smallest size. Because it is done on both cheeks, the after surgery effect can be more than one would expect. Unlike the naturally deficient (underdeveloped) cheek patient, who usually needs a bigger size, the aging face does not usually have a bone deficiency but a much thinner soft tissue prolapse.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cheek Enhancement – A Missing Part of Facial Rejuvenation

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

When one thinks of facial aging, they inevitably look to the jowl and neck area.While this lower facial area is of big concern to many and is the foundation of facial rejuvenation surgery (usually through a facelift-type procedure), the underlooked area is the midface or cheek. As one ages, the cheek area sinks in and sags for many as it loses volume through fat atrophy. This is partly why a heavy person with a full face may still look somewhat youthful as they age. (known as the Santa Claus effect) A gaunter, thinner face, while interesting when one is young, can really show age when one is older.

 

Adding volume to the cheek has been recently shown to to help make a more youthful face. Based on cadaver work by Dr. Joel Pessa at the University of Texas at Southwestern, a deep fat compartment was identified in the cheek. When this fat compartment was enhanced through implants or fillers, there was an immediate improvement in the hollowing of the face. Not only does restoring volume to this cheek compartment make the cheek/midface area more youthful, it also helps improves the look under the eyes as well as around the nose and upper lip area.

 

The jury is still out, however, on the best method to do this cheek volume addition. Fat injections would be the simplest and the most versatile, but fat survival remains unpredictable particularly in the older patient. I currently add PRP (platelet-rich plasma extract from the patient) to the injections and isolate the fat through a unique centrifguation method. Early results are encouraging but only one year results count when it comes to fat grafting. Cheek implants are simple to do, remain stable in volume over time, and come in a few styles to add volume to some different areas around the cheek. Unfortunately, the more lateral cheek area, which is not over bone is not affected by the introduction of an implant. And there is always the risk of infection or malpositioning. Injectable fillers are as versatile as fat injections and don’t involve an operating room experience. But their effects are only temporary and, when adding up the cost per volume injected, can potentially rival surgery fees if a large cheek area needs to be treated.
Not every aging face patient needs cheek enhancement nor is it the mainstay treatment of most aging faces. But it can be a good complement to more conventional facelifting procedures and is a ‘missing component’ of some patient’s treatment plans whether they are young or old.
Dr. Barry Eppley

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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