What Is The Best Method Of Cheek Augmentation?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in cheek augmentation but am not sure which option to pursue.  Can you help me decide between fillers and cheek implants?

A: Cheek augmentation can be done with a variety of methods because the cheek is a rather indistinct structure that does not have sharp contours. Thus cheek augmentation usually only requires a mass effect which rarely has to have very distinct contours. Fillers and implants make up the two categories of treatment options that can have similar effects but different methodologies and short and long-term effects.

Synthetic injectable fillers are the easiest approach as they can be done in the office and can be placed anywhere on the cheek. Their effects are instantaneous and there is little swelling and no recovery. Their downside is that they will not be permanent and must be repeated to have a sustained result, regardless of the filler type used. For many this can be  a good test or trial if one is uncertain about whether cheek augmentation is for them.

The natural injectable filler of fat offers the potential of longevity but its complete survival is not assured. This is why cheek fat injections are often overdone to some degree building into the result some amount of postoperative fat resorption. Because this requires the harvest of fat, it is usually done in the operating room and usually as part of other face or body procedures.

Cheek implants offer a reliable method of permanent volume augmentation that can be placed in a variety of cheek locations due to the different implant styles and sizes available. This is the most invasive approach and is done from an incision inside the mouth under the upper lip. If the implants are properly selected and placed, potential complications such as cheek asymmetry or an unaesthetic shape can be avoided.

When all put together, one should do synthetic fillers if one is uncertain about the benefits of cheek augmentation, use fat if doing other surgery and want a natural cheek augmentation effect or use implants if one is certain about their desire for cheek augmentation and/or want a permanent and/or dramatic effect.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana