Of all of the areas of the body that can be enhanced, suctioned, shaped, lifted, or filled, cheeks may not be one of the first that comes to mind. However when you consider that weak or recessed cheek bones can make the face appear to sag, intensify the look bags under the eyes, and make the face appear less attractive in general, you begin to understand why many people choose to undergo cheek implant surgery.
High cheek bones are coveted in many Western cultures as an attractive physical feature. Prominent cheek bones create a slight depression along the meaty, fleshy part of the cheek which people associate, even unconsciously, with health and vitality. Also, as people age and the skin of the face begins to sag, fatty deposits develop just beneath the skin, and malar (cheek) bones begin to deteriorate. Cleverly places cheek bone implants can lift the entire face and greatly improve a person’s appearance.
Malar or cheek implants may be used as part of facial reconstruction procedures. Certain congenital abnormalities are associated with asymmetries between the cheek bones and trauma to the face can destroy these structures. Synthetic cheek implants can restore a more normal, symmetric facial appearance in these patients.
Silastic or silicone-based implants are the cheek implant of choice. This is true for several reasons. They are easy for the plastic surgeon to place in the malar region, they are both durable and shapeable and can be precisely trimmed to fit the needs of individual facial contours. The Silastic material does not react within the body’s immune system so there is no risk of rejection and many years of safe use worldwide has demonstrated that this silicone material is not associated with increased risk of cancer. These cheek bone implants are resistant to infection and are relatively comfortable over time. Silastic cheek implants are also easily removed and replaced if necessary.
Newer cheek implant materials are being used in certain surgical centers. These include PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and Medpor (polyethylene) among others. These are carbon based plastics, essentially. They permit tissue to grow closely around the cheek implant and even through it. While this means that the cheek implant is very stable once the malar region has healed, if they ever need to be removed it can be very difficult and lead to trauma of the soft tissues of the face. Metal and ceramic cheek implants are used, though less frequently for augmentation purposes.
In the United States, the average cost of surgeon’s fees for a cheek implant procedure is between $2,750 to $3,000. If the procedure is done under general anesthesia, this can add between $500 and $1,000 to the overall cost. In the case of reconstruction because of a birth defect or to treat trauma sustained to the face, health insurance is likely to cover at least part of the cost. However, if cheek implant surgery is done for purely cosmetic reasons, as many are, health insurance will not cover this cost. If this is a difficult financial commitment, ask your doctor about payment options, including paying in installments over time.