In the bad old days it was thought that sagging skin was the biggest sign of ageing which was behind so many of the wind tunnel effect facelifts that were carried out in the 70s and 80s. Current thinking, though, is that loss of volume in the mid-face (causing a ‘sunken cheeks’ look) is the big giveaway. This is why there is now a proliferation of different options for enhancing the cheeks and recreating that soft rounded profile of youth.
These treatments range from the non-invasive all the way through to cheek implant surgery.
Hydraluronic acid dermal fillers; a temporary solution. Hylauronic acid levels in the skin deplete with age and these products revitalise and add volume to the skin, instantly diminishing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Each hyaluronic acid dermal fillers range has a number of products that are suitable for different areas of the face and body including the cheeks.
Fat transfer; fat is taken via liposuction and injected into other areas of the face and body. Stem-cell enriched fat transfer has increased the predictability and longevity of this procedure.
Volumising treatments; the main product in this category is Sculptra. It causes a reaction in the body that in turn stimulates collagen production. In the cheek area this can restore facial volume. It is longer-lasting then HA dermal fillers.
Facial implants; the surgical option.
Cheek fillers: Am I suitable?
Facial implants are aimed at women and men who are suffering from volume loss due to ageing or who have always had a very narrow and flat face and are seeking enhanced cheek contours.
If you are prone to suffering from keloid scars (they appear as red, angry, raised scars) or have a condition that causes problems with wound healing then the scarring may be more visible with this procedure.
Cheek fillers: What do I have to do to prepare?
As this is a surgical procedure, your surgeon will give you guidelines on how to prepare for surgery. There are a number of different products that can be implanted in the face – from silicone, rigid polyethylene and a synthetic material called ePTFE – so it is important to do your research into what is best for you.
There are also non-surgical options which should be considered. This is a permanent option and that brings with it both advantages and disadvantages.
Cheek fillers: What’s the treatment like?
An incision is made either inside the mouth or under the lower eye line. The implant is then inserted in a pocket in the cheek area depending on what effect the patient wishes to achieve; in the upper cheek for the Keira Knightley effect or in the mid-cheek to restore volume. The incision is then closed.
The operation can be performed under local or general anaesthetic and take from 30 minutes up to two hours depending on which implant is being used.
Cheek fillers: What about after?
There will be quite a lot of swelling and some discomfort from facial movements but recovery time is relatively quick with this procedure and you should be fine after a week.
Cheek fillers: Are there any risks or side effects?
As well as the usual implications of surgery, cheek enhancement surgery can result in asymmetry and nerve damage. Capsular contracture, where scar tissue forms around a foreign body such as an implant, can occur. Scarring is relatively minimal and can be well hidden by the surgeon.
One criticism of cheek implants surgery compared to temporary non-surgical options, is that your face is constantly changing as your face ages and the implants don’t age with you as such. In time, they may not be in the optimum position.
Cheek fillers: What will it cost me?
Cheek implants cost from between £1,500 to £3,000 depending on which implant is used and the extent of the procedure.