Custom Midface Implant

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a custom midface implant procedure  and canthoplasty done by you last year. The recovery went well and there hasn’t been any sign of infection. Immediately after the surgery i was very happy with the result. After my face became swollen and recovered the look was different as the lower portion of my cheek had swollen. I thought it was swelling and that it would subside but almost a year later its still prominent.

Although I had the infraorbital implant placed there is a large shelf like gap between my eye and implant which appears sunken. Last time we spoke you said the best approach would be tat grafting and retraction of the eyelids to address the drooping and hollowness. 

I had fillers done to the undereyes which did help the hollowness up until the implant. The doctors said they could not place filler between the undereye implant and eyeball. Which leaves a large hollow gap.Besides from augmenting the implant is it possible to liposuction the lower cheek fat beside the philtrum? Whats the best solution the address the fullness?

A: Good hearing from you and thanks you for the long-term followup. As per the attached pictures one can see that the implant did exactly what it was designed to do. It added forward projection and fullness to the infraorbital-midface based on the areas of its design. Like all facial implants and surgery in general, it is never going to be perfect and it can not completely augment all areas of your non-skeletal deficiencies. What you are seeing now and asking about are those areas of imperfections that such an implant either creates or could not adequately treat.

In answer to your custom midface implant questions:

1) The fullness you see in the lower cheeks is the result of the implant pushing out the soft tissues. While this is an area that can be treated by microliposuction it is not very effective. It would make more sense to treat the basis of the aesthetic problem….remove the section of the implant beneath it and let the tissue fall back.

2) The gap between your eye and the implant is because the implant can only go so high particularly given that it was designed to be placed from an intraoral approach. (see attached picture with arrows) The issue is that the entire infraorbital rim needs to be elevated from the tear trough area out to the lateral orbital rim. Even if so done there will always be some sort of visible transition zone as your soft tissue anatomy is made for the underlying shape/volume of the bone. Fat injections is an option but its success would be based on how well the fat survives… which would be dubious in a young man with a high metabolism and a low percentage of body fat. Adding more implant through either ePTFE sheets or an implant ‘extension’ is another option of which lower eyelid approach would be needed. The other approach is to smooth out the implant over the lateral infraorbital rim/cheek so the transition is smoother/less obvious.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana