What Can Be Done For The Hollowing Below My Cheek After A Facelift and Weight Loss?

Q: Hi Dr. Eppley, I have a question regarding my face since it has gotten thinner after a facelift.  I had a facelift last summer after losing 45 pounds. My plastic surgeon said he took four inches of skin out of my neck. However I did lose my round face because my cheeks are more sculpted now due to loss of volume.  While I like the change it is a weird look for me because I have always had a round face since I was just a kid.  I never had sculpted cheeks even at a normal weight.  I used to get carded well in my 30’s because of my baby face.  So there is some merit to having volume. It is weird for me to see my cheekbones as opposed to my puffy cheeks.  I almost feel like I look older without my round face.  So my question to you is it possible to add some volume in my lower cheeks BELOW the cheek bone to get my “baby face” back.   What would you suggest?  I can send pix if you want me to. Thanks for your advice.

A:  There is no doubt that between having a facelift and undergoing considerable weight loss, one can end up with less facial volume. This is usually most manifest around the cheek areas when it occurs, specifically in the area below the cheeks known as the submalar area. I prefer to call this area the submalar triangle as it is a soft tissue area that has the configuration of an inverted triangle and has no underlying bony support. That is why it suffers the greatest indentation or hollowing on the face with fat loss…it has no underlying bony support so it sinks in.

There are several ways to build out the submalar triangle. The simplest is to replace what is lost through fat injections. Fat is both natural and easy to harvest through liposuction and its injection is not ‘invasive surgery’. Its downside is that its survival is not always predictable. The other is to use a specific submalar implant which sits on the underside of the cheek bone. This will build out the upper part of the submalar triangle but not the lower area near the corner of the mouth. The total submalar area can also be built out by the insertion of onlay dermal grafts. Using part of your old facelift incision, allogeneic dermal grafts (human dermis out of a box) can be cut and laid underneath the skin to add a soft natural volumetric fill. The dermal grafts will integrate and become part of your natural tissues.

As you can see there are a variety of submalar augmentation options. Which one is right for you depends on which approach offers the simplest, most natural, and predictable outcome.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana