Facial implants are designed to augment various parts of the face in order to enhance the underlying bone structure. The most common areas of the face that are augmented include the chin and the cheeks. The facial implants used in these areas are called chin implants and cheek implants respectively. Facial implants are made of an inert solid silicone material, and in most people do not cause any reactive problems in the body. Facial implants are extremely sturdy structures and are not meant to be replaced.
Chin augmentation is the most popular type of facial augmentation. Augmenting the chin can dramatically improve the appearance of a weak chin and balance out one’s profile. Chin augmentation is often performed at the same time as a rhinoplasty for this very reason. Chin implants are designed for patients who need mild to moderate amounts of increased chin projection. For those patients who need larger amounts of augmentation, a chin implant may not suffice, and operations which actually move the chin bone forward may be more appropriate.
Chin augmentation may be performed by using an incision on the inside of the lower lip or through an external incision under the chin. Dr. Chang prefers the internal incision because it eliminates any visible scarring. Through these incisions a small pocket is created between the chin tissues and the bone for the implant to sit. The size of the pocket is kept close to the size of the implant to prevent unwanted movement and migration. Once the implant is seated in the right position, the incisions are closed and the chin is taped to control swelling and prevent movement.
Chin augmentation is performed in the hospital under a general anesthetic. The operation lasts about an hour to an hour and a half, and patients can go home the same day with supervision. Patients are encouraged to take about a week off work and 3 weeks off any strenuous activity or exercise.
Risks of the procedure include bleeding, infection, numbness in the area, migration or extrusion of the implant, nerve injuries, underlying bone absorption, implant failures, and anesthetic problems. Fortunately, because chin implantation is a relatively straight-forward procedure, the vast majority of patients heal quickly and uneventfully.
A second type of facial augmentation is cheek augmentation. Cheek augmentation can create the look of higher, more prominent cheekbones in someone whose cheek area is naturally flattened. This procedure can be performed on its own or in conjunction with a facelift. When the procedure is performed at the same time as the facelift, the facelift incisions are used in order to gain access to the cheek area for augmentation. If the procedure is performed on its own, the incisions to access the cheek area are made inside the mouth above the gum line under each cheek. The principals of the operation are the same as those for the chin augmentation. Through the incisions, small pockets for the cheek implants are created between the cheek tissues and the cheek bones so that the implants can sit comfortably and securely in place. The incisions are then closed. The recovery time periods and precautions for cheek implants are similar as for chin implants, as is the risk profile.
Facial augmentation can greatly improve one’s appearance by improving their facial shape and profile. Small enhancements such as this can produce dramatic results, and thus in the right patient the results can be beautiful.