Q:I am looking at having a revision surgery on my chin for what I believe is a partial non-attachment of the soft tissue to the hydroxyapatite implant. Some of my chin hang independently from the rest and looks aged. My surgery was two years ago. I am contacting you because I see you have specific knowledge of the intricacies of chin surgery. Could you give me some information about what I should do now and whether you have dealt with this problem before?
A: Thank you for your inquiry. Before I can answer your questions specifically, let me get some details as to your chin surgery from two years ago. You refer to having a hydroxyapatite implant placed. Since there are no off-the-shelf hydroxypatite implants of which I am aware, I assume that this was an intraoperatively carved one that was done from a block of material. Furthermore, I am assuming that it was placed intraorally (through the mouth) as opposed to under the chin through the skin.
Your description of your concern’s sounds like what is known as a ‘witch’s chin deformity’, otherwise known as soft tissue chin ptosis. There is where the chin soft tissues sag off of the end of the bone/implant. Because any type of chin implant augmentation must detach the muscles, there is that risk after surgery although it almost exclusively occurs from an intraoral approach.
Please send me some photos of your chin and provide answers to my questions, then I will be able to confirm this diagnosis. I have seen this numerous times and the appropriate correction (implant notwithstanding) in most cases is a mentalis muscle resuspension procedure.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: Over a year ago, I had a medium-sized chin implant placed from inside my mouth and I HATED it. Last month I finally had it removed but I don’t look the same. My chin seems to droop a bit. I am going CRAZY over this! Please tell me what I can do!
A: To understand the problem and how to fix it, you must appreciate what any implant in the body does that changes the size of an area. Like a breast implant, a chin implant pushes off of the underlying bone stretching out the overlying soft tissues. As a result, you are gaining more soft tissue which the area needs to look bigger.
This soft tissue expansion can really be appreciated when and if the implant ever comes out. Without the implant’s support, the now extra soft tissue sags creating a classic chin ptosis condition. Some refer to it as a ‘witch’s chin’ deformity. There now is too much soft tissue for the amount of bone or underlying soft tissue support. Furthermore, the mentalis muscle has been detached from the chin bone and likely was not resuspended at the time of implant removal. This muscle problem can particularly arise when chin implants are placed from inside the mouth where the superior muscular attachments are completely separated.
Correction of chin ptosis can be done by two different approaches, based on the severity of the soft tissue sag. If the laxity is mild, then an intramural approach with muscle resuspension using bone anchors works very nicely. If the soft tissue sag is more severe, then an approach from the underside of the chin known as a submental tuck-up can be done for soft tissue removal and reattachment back to the bone.
Another option would be to replace the chin implant with another one (even if it is smaller), but that doesn’t sound like an option in your case.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q : Hello Doctor, I had a chin implant in November 2008. It got infected and had to be removed two weeks later. Now after one and a half years later my chin is still loose and stretched, making my chin look like it is hanging and looks weirdly different. I like to find out if there is a way of fixing this by shrinking and tightening my chin that will hold my face together the way it was before. Thank you for your time and help, hope to hear from you very soon.
A: In placing a chin implant, it is necessary to lift the mentalis muscle off of the bone. Like placing a breast implant, this stretchs the overlying tissues out. As a result, if chin implants are ever removed there is a risk of the tissues not shrinking back down and become ptotic. (sagging off the bone) This is a well recognized chin problem whose occurrence is more likely the larger the chin implant that was used. The risk of chin sagging is also greater if the pathway in which the chin implant was originally placed and removed was done from inside the mouth. (this method separates a greater amount of mentalis muscle)
Chin ptosis, also known as a ‘witch’s chin’ deformity, can be corrected through two different methods. If you want to get the effect of greater chin prominence that you were originally after, replacement of a new chin implant or moving the chin bone forward (chin osteotomy) can be done. This will give more chin projection and pick up the sagging chin tissues. If you are not interested in any further chin projection, then the mentalis muscle must be shortened and tightened to readapt the soft tissues back on the chin bone. This can be done either from inside the mouth using resorbable bone anchors or from an incision on the underside of the chin. (submental tuckup)
Dr. Barry Eppley