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Implants offer an assured volumetric outcome for cheek augmentation. Just like chin implants a variety of cheek implant styles and sizes are available to use. While many of these implant styles are somewhat different in shape, most have an oval form which is designed to sit over the malar prominence and/or cover/extend down into the submalar space. This has been the historic implant form for the cheeks for decades.

The interesting question is whether standard shaped cheek implants are gender neutral. Do they provide similar cheek shapes that are desired by both women and men? While there may be some men who desire what these types of cheek implants achieve, my experience is that many do not. While women have historically liked the rounder anterior malar fullness (apple cheek effect) than most of the standard cheek implants styles achieve, this is not what most men want. This rounded type of cheek augmentation has a feminizing effect.

The male cheek augmentation patient seeks a masculinizing effect on their appearance which is typically described as a ‘higher cheek look’. This term is liberally used but its exact definition has never been clearly explained. Men will commonly show examples of models and celebrities who have it and that look is fairly consistent. From a skeletal standpoint it is a linear or curvilinear line of augmentation along the ‘arc of the cheek’. This means it is a line of augmentation from the lateral infraorbital rim all the way across the cheek back along the zygomatic arch.

The shape of the implant that achieves this high cheek effect is more linear rather than oval. It is also more natural in its surface area coverage (footprint) as it follows the actual shape of the cheekbone which is anatomically known as the zygomatico-maxillary-orbital complex. This is why the high cheek look type implant is called an infraorbital-malar implant design.

In directly comparing the standard cheek vs infraorbital-malar cheek implant designs the differences in their surface area coverage and contour effects can be appreciated.

While men typically prefer this infraorbital-malar cheek effect, I am also finding that more younger women do as well. The difference between the male vs female infraorbital-malar implant style is that women typically prefer a lower curvilinear  shape across the malar area.

In either cheek implant style the key external feature that it provides is an external sweep up and back across the cheek creating an obvious line of augmentation along the zygomatic arch. It must have a good ogee curve shape in he oblique view as well.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

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