How Can The Area Below My Cheeks Be Built Out To Add Some Slight Fullness And Get Rid Of My Smile Lines?

Q: I am unhappy with the mid- and lower cheek area of my face. My cheeks are sunken in below the cheek bone causing a hollow/gaunt appearance. I have smile lines that are becoming heavier and more visible all the time. I had fat injections in the area of the smile lines about 3 months ago. I would estimate that about half remains at this point. I saw your videos on Youtube and would like your opinion on whether a submalar implant would fully correct, partially correct, or have minimal effect in this area of my face. I would like to understand your recommendations on improving this area. My objective is to create a permanent and fuller looking face in the cheek area and pull out the smile lines without creating a chubby or fat face.

A:  The key to answering your question is to understand the anatomy of the submalar triangle area. This is an inverted triangle facial zone that lies below the cheek bone in which the apex of the inverted triangle goes down below the corner of the mouth. Almost all of this area is not supported by bone, but by soft tissue only. As a result, a submalar implant will only help create fullness in the upper region of the submalar triangle. The smile lines lies in the lower end of this triangle and will not be changed by a submalar implant. Soft tissue augmentation must be done in the smile line area. Fat injections is one method but is fraught with unreliable take as you have experienced. But its simplicity remains its appeal and another effort at it may produce even better results. The other option, which I currently prefer due to its better effect and longevity, is interpositional dermal grafting. By placing layers of allogeneic dermal grafts in this area, the skin and the underlying tissues are released and separated by the grafts. They add an eventual well-vascularized tissue layer that can be from 2 to 5mms thick which is not unduly bulky. They must be placed through a limited facelift (preauricular) incision. Their longevity is much more assured than injectable fat grafts in this facial area.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana