If you're considering facial surgery...
Plastic surgeons use facial implants to improve and enhance facial contours.
Frequently, these implants will help provide a more harmonious balance to
your face and features so that you feel better about the way you look.
There are many implants available, manufactured from a variety of materials.
They may help strengthen a jawline or bring the chin or cheekbones into
balance with the rest of the face.
This page describes some of the facial implants currently available
as well as the techniques for their use. It will familiarize you with these
procedures but cannot provide all the details which may be relevant to your
If you feel that one or more of the procedures described in this page
may be of benefit, be sure to ask your plastic surgeon for more information.
Facial surgery is most often done to
bring the face into balance by building
up the chin, the cheeks, or the jaw.
What to expect from a facial implant
Facial implants can enhance your appearance and bolster your self esteem.
If you are looking for improvement, not perfection, in your appearance and
are realistic in your expectations, you may find that a facial implant is
the right choice for you.
Plastic surgeons will frequently use such implants to bring better balance
to the features of a younger patient. For instance, a teenage girl may want
her nose reshaped or her chin brought forward so that these traits are better
proportioned. The more mature patient may choose to have an implant placed
in conjunction with another cosmetic procedure. For example, during a facelift,
a patient may wish to have implants placed over the cheekbones to help restore
a more youthful appearance. Implants may also be selected to fill out a
face that appears "sunken" or tired.
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk
Facial implants can produce some remarkable changes. Problems rarely occur,
but you need to be informed about such possibilities. This page will
touch upon a few, but is not intended to provide a detailed or complete
inventory of potential risks.
A facial implant can shift slightly out of alignment and a second operation
my be necessary to replace it in its proper position. Infection can occur
with any operation. If infection were to occur around a facial implant and
did not clear up after treatment with antibiotics, the implant might have
to be temporarily removed and replaced at a later time. Other, less-frequent
risks may be associated with certain implants. Be sure to ask your plastic
surgeon for a description of the risks associated with the procedure in
which you are interested.
Some of the implant materials are made of a solid silicone. Currently, there
is no scientific evidence that this is a harmful substance. Your plastic
surgeon will be happy to discuss any current scientific findings concerning
the type of implant you're considering.
Planning your surgery
When you discuss your surgery with your plastic surgeon, be certain that
you clearly express your expectations. Your plastic surgeon will help you
determine what it is possible to achieve. It may be helpful to provide your
surgeon with photos of people who have facial features similar to those
you would like to have.
Be sure you understand the details of the proposed surgery, including the
cost and what to expect during your recovery.
If the surgery will entail an incision inside your mouth, it is important
that you inform your physician if you smoke or if you have any dental or
gum problems. Your plastic surgeon will advise you on these matters.
In preparing for your surgery, be sure to find out if you'll be able to
drive home afterward or will require transportation. You should also ask
if you'll need to refrain from eating or drinking the night before your
surgery, and if you should stop taking any medications, including aspirin
and similar drugs. You may be instructed to take oral antibiotics both before
and after the procedure to help guard against infection.
Your plastic surgeon will provide information about these important matters
during your pre-operative consultation.
Where your surgery will be performed
Your operation may take place in an office-based facility, a freestanding
surgical center or a hospital outpatient facility. Sometimes, your plastic
surgeon may require that you stay overnight. Your doctor will make such
a recommendation based on your overall medical condition and whether another
cosmetic procedure was performed simultaneously with the facial implant
Types of anesthesia
In some cases, facial implant surgery may require only local anesthesia
combined with a sedative. However, more frequently, a general anesthesia
may be recommended.
Insertion of a chin implant may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
During the procedure, the surgeon selects the proper size and shape implant
to enhance your appearance and inserts it into a pocket over the front of
the jawbone. The small incision to create the pocket and insert the implant
is placed inside the mouth (along the lower lip) or in the skin just under
the chin area.
A short incision under the chin or
inside the mouth allows the surgeon to
place a chin implant directly on the
Usually, the chin is taped after surgery to minimize swelling and discomfort.
Sutures in the skin will be removed in five to seven days. If an intra-oral
incision is used, the sutures will dissolve.
Recovering from chin surgery
You will experience some discomfort and swelling in the affected area for
several days. It's normal to experience some temporary difficulty with smiling
and talking. Black and blue marks may be visible around the chin and neck.
Your plastic surgeon will instruct you about dental hygiene, eating and
any restrictions to your activities after surgery.
Cheek implant surgery usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes. When cheek implants
are being placed in conjunction with another cosmetic procedure, such as
a facelift, forehead lift or eyelid surgery, the implants may be inserted
through the incisions made for those procedures. Otherwise, an incision
will be made either inside your upper lip or your lower eyelid. A pocket
is then formed and an implant is inserted.
Cheek implants are usually inserted
through an incision in the mouth and
placed directly on (or even below) the
cheekbone. These implants can vary
in size and shape.
After surgery, a dressing will be applied to minimize discomfort and swelling.
The severity and duration of such side effects may vary, especially if another
cosmetic procedure was performed at the same time.
Recovering from cheek surgery
Your plastic surgeon will provide you with instructions about post-operative
care. There will be dietary restrictions as well as limitations to your
activities. Again, these instructions will vary, especially if another procedure
was performed along with your implant surgery. However, you should be aware
that your ability to move your mouth and lips may be diminished temporarily.
Stitches used to close the incisions inside your mouth usually dissolve
within about 10 days.
Insertion of a jaw implant usually takes about one to two hours. Internal
incisions are made on either side of the lower lip to provide access for
creating a pocket into which the lower-jaw implant can be inserted. Dissolving
sutures are used to close the incisions.
Jaw implants are placed directly on the
jawbone to create a stronger, more
Recovering from jaw surgery
Swelling is sometimes significant immediately following surgery, usually
peaking 24 to 48 hours afterward. Although most of the significant swelling
will subside over a period of several days, prolonged mild swelling may
prevent your final facial contour from becoming apparent for several months.
During the healing phase, your activities and diet will be restricted. Your
ability to smile, talk or move your mouth in any way may be limited for
several days to weeks following surgery. Your plastic surgeon will instruct
you about dental and oral hygiene during
Getting back to normal
Remember, with any facial surgery, you may feel and look better in a short
period of time. However, it may not be advisable to participate in certain
activities -- especially activity that may result in the face being jarred
or bumped -- for several weeks. It's best to check with your plastic surgeon
about such matters.
Your new look
You may not be able to accurately evaluate your appearance for weeks, or
perhaps even months. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to your new
You may be surprised to find that most people won't recognize that you've
had facial implant surgery -- only that you look better.
Facial implants help change the basic
structure of the face to give a fuller,
more balanced look.