Definition and Overview
As the term implies, a cheek correction is a cosmetic procedure that corrects or improves the appearance of the cheeks. It is particularly beneficial for people with sunken or flat cheeks, but can also be used for cheek sculpting, a procedure that makes the cheekbones more prominent to create a more defined facial contour.
Since the cheeks are very prominent parts of the face, their appearance greatly affects a person's overall facial appearance. Also, since skin tends to lose its elasticity over time, sunken cheeks are commonly associated with aging, whereas full cheeks give off a youthful appearance. Unfortunately, not all people have soft, lively cheeks; some are naturally born with flat or hollow cheeks, while some lose the original contour of their cheeks due to aging, disease, stress, or poor health.
Who should undergo and expected results
A cheek correction surgery is beneficial for those who:
- Have sunken or sagging cheeks
- Have a triangular-shaped facial structure
- Have wrinkled, aging cheeks
- Have low or recessed cheekbones
- Have unusually big cheekbones
- Have cheek deformities
- Have asymmetrical cheeks
- Want to have artificial dimples
A cheek correction surgery can be expected to result in more prominent cheekbones or fuller, more youthful-looking cheeks. The procedure can also sculpt the cheeks or cheekbones to give them more definition as well as correct deformed and asymmetrical cheekbones, which can be caused by congenital (which means they are present at birth) or acquired (usually caused by trauma or injury) conditions.
A cheek correction is sometimes combined with other cosmetic facial procedures, such as chin or forehead correction, or a facelift, depending on the long-term and overall goals of the patient.
How the procedure works
A cheek correction is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. The manner in which it is done depends on the goals of the procedure, which basically dictates the specific type of surgery that will be performed. These procedures may be any of the following:
- Fat injection – Also known as fat transplantation, fat transfer, or lipofilling, this is the best type of cheek correction surgery for those with flat, recessed, or sunken cheeks. The fat that is injected into the cheeks is usually taken from the patient's own body, either from the inner thigh or lower part of the abdomen. Aside from making the cheeks look fuller, this procedure can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is the safer option compared to cheek implants as there is only a small risk of adverse reactions to the patient's own fat.
- Cheek augmentation – Also known as a malar implants surgery, this procedure gives the patient higher, more defined and sculpted-looking cheekbones. To achieve this, synthetic implants made from biocompatible materials are placed over the patient's natural cheekbones. The size and shape of the implants can be customized based on the patient's desired results.
- Facial fillers – These are similar to fat injections, except that instead of fat, injectable dermal fillers are used. These fillers can be made from either biodegradable or non-biodegradable materials. Biodegradable materials, such as fillers made from hyaluronic acid, are safer as the body is able to break them down over time; this does mean, however, that their effect may gradually fade over a couple of years. On the other hand, non-biodegradable fillers, such as bio-alcamid, stays in place permanently.
- Cheekbone shaving – The opposite of cheek augmentation, this shaves off some part of either one or both cheekbones. The procedure is used to create a better facial symmetry in patients with too prominent or unequal cheekbones. This procedure, however, is more complex than other cheek correction surgeries and requires general anesthesia.
- Buccal fat pad removal – This procedure is performed the same way as liposuction, in which excess fat is removed through small incisions made on the inside of the cheeks to minimize visible scarring. The surgery results in better facial definition.
These procedures may take anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. The recovery period is also short. Most patients can resume their normal activities within 3-4 days while healing continues to progress gradually and the patient's appearance continues to improve. Complete recovery is usually achieved within two weeks. It is only after this time that the patient's new appearance will be evident because the swelling will have subsided by then.
Despite the short recovery time, patients are still advised to avoid excessive sun exposure as well as any impact on the cheek areas for up to 6 weeks after the procedure.
Possible risks and complications
Just like any other surgical procedure, cheek correction procedure is linked to surgical risks, such as:
- Allergic reaction to anesthetics
The implantation and the use of injectables also put the patient at risk of developing allergic reactions. This is more likely to occur when synthetic materials are used.
There are also some normal side effects that may be expected while the patient is still recovering. These include:
- Numbness, but usually only for the first few days
- Swelling during the first few weeks after the procedure
Additionally, patients who have undergone a cheek correction surgery should watch out for the following symptoms, as they may indicate a possible infection because the body is rejecting the new material transplanted into the cheeks.
Severe pain (or pain that is increasing in intensity rather than improving)
American College of Aesthetic and Cosmetic Physicians