Cheek Implant for Acne Scarring

Q: Can facial implants help to fill in a cheek region, where collagen injections have been beneficial? I have a large depressed scar from dermabrasion and laser treatments on an acne scarred region of my face. I would be glad to email pictures of the region to assist in the answer. 

A: Facial implants work by pushing out from the underlying bone on the overlying soft tissue. This how they create more highlights or volume to specific facial bony prominences. While a facial implant can be placed anywhere on the facial bones, they work best on convex or flat surfaces such as the chin, cheeks, and jaw angles.

The treatment of most depressed scars would be either some form of surgical scar revision (cut out and re-closure) or skin resurfacing. In some select cases, such as yours, actually filling in the underlying soft tissue helps flatten the outer appearance of the scarred area. Injectable fillers can work well for that type of depressed scar but they are not permanent and must be repeated.

You have correctly pointed a very uncommon but potentially beneficial approach to depressed cheek scars. Having proven that soft tissue expansion makes the scar look better, it is insightful to ask about whether a cheek implant can create the same effect. Since the cheek bone is convex, an implant will definitely push outward on the skin, helping flatten a depressed scar. I have done such an approach twice in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice and it can work well as you have surmised.

The key to the successful use of an implant for a depressed cheek scar is two-fold. The acne or traumatic scars must be directly over the prominence of the cheekbone to get the most benefit from the underlying push of the implant. And you must consider the opposite cheek prominence as well from the perspective of balance. (one-sided or both sides for cheek augmentation)

Dr. Barry Eppley