Q: Dr. Eppley, I had cheek and paranasal implants placed in another state 4 days ago before flying back (1 hour flight). I think I have developed a slight cold, and have a slight runny nose while coughing up some phlegm too. My biggest worry right now is that there is some ‘squishiness’ when I press on my left cheek. Are there signs of a cheek implant infection, and what can be done for it?
Anyway, I’m still taking my antibiotics as prescribed, and there are no other symptoms (no redness, excessive swelling or fever). I’m hoping that I don’t have to get these implants removed, which is why I’m seeking your counsel with regards to what I can do.
Thanks for any help rendered!
A: I would not consider this squishness to be a sign of cheek implant infection. Most likely it is due to the positioning of the implant and/or a little fluid around it since it is so early after surgery. Many cheek implants are placed partially off the bone and/or are not screwed into position. This will allow the implant to ‘float’ around for awhile until scar tissue settles and secures it down. Further healing will also allow any fluid around the implant to be resorbed.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: Dr. Eppley, two weeks ago I got silicone malar cheek implants done. At first the healing process seemed to be going fine but then I started to feel pain and discomfort in the area where my implant was at on the left side. My dissolvable stitches also broke so I was bleeding a lot and went back to the Dr. .He said the cut was half healed half open and from what he could see it looked raw and red looking, I was also having some fluid coming out. Obviously he said it was infected but said it wasn’t enough to concern him and put me on Amox/K Clav 875 for 2 weeks. It’s been 4 days & it doesn’t seem like it’s getting worse or better what do you recommend is the next step. It still hurts when I smile or chew and is more swollen then the other side. Could there be a pus pocket like an abscess in the location of the implant? How can I find out? I’m thinking maybe an x-ray or MRI can show if there is something forming around the implant causing the discomfort? If so can it be drained? I just don’t want to have my implant taken out if there is some other way to go. Thanks in advance.
A: The most typical postoperative time period for an infection to occur from facial implants is 10 to 21 days after surgery…so you are right in that time period. But whether you have an actual infection or not is not clear. It is either an infection or a wound dehiscence (incision separation), both of which can give you pain on mouth movement. There is no value in getting an x-ray or other radiographic assessment as that is not going to change the clinical management of your cheek implant problem. You have two approaches to do. One is to stay on the antibiotics, see how the intraoral wound heals, and let time dictate what will happen. If improvement is going to occur it will be slow and will not occur in just 4 days. If it is an infection, it will eventually get worse and be obvious. (antibiotics alone will rarely cure an implant infection) This is the most convenient approach (not surgery)O even though it is not the most efficient. The other approach is to go back to surgery, wash out the implant site and thoroughly clean the implant, re-insert it and get a good wound closure. This is not convenient (as it is surgery) but it is the most efficient approach and the most assured one to retain the cheek implant long-term.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: I had cheek implants placed over10years ago and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon told me one of them is infected. It started with a visit to the dentist.I had 2 fillings done in my upper molars.The freezing was in the same area the implants are and this somehow caused one of them to get infected. It is swollen and I am upset it happened and worried about the infection. I have been on antibiotics for about a month.I know infection is rare but I got unlucky and I was wondering how many times you’ve had to take one or both implants out?
A: You are correct in that infections with cheek implants are rare, but they are not unheard of. It has been reported that cheek implants can get infected with local anesthetic injections during dental treatment. An upper vestibular or intraoral nerve block puts the needle very close to a cheek implant and could very easily, unknowing to the dentist, touch or penetrate into the implant. This would be a source of bacteria brought into the implant capsule from the needle track.
Once a cheek implant, or any facial implant for that matter, gets infected, it is likely that it will eventually require surgical treatment. An implant is an avascular surface, that once contaminated, can not easily get rid of an infection. Antibiotics are a logical first choice but they will tend to only suppress it for the duration that you are them. Once off, the swelling and infection usually returns. If this does not work after a month or so, I would re-operate, remove and clean off the existing implant and either replant it or replace it with a new one. This approach will work. The opposite cheek implant is at no risk from the infection of the other one.
Dr. Barry Eppley