What are Facial Implants?
Facial implants are specially formed solid materials compatible with human tissues, designed to enhance or augment the physical structure of your face. The precise type and size of implants best suited for you requires an evaluation of your goals, the features you wish to correct, and your surgeon’s judgment.
If you are bothered by a small chin, weak jaw, or lack of facial contour, plastic surgery with facial implants may benefit you. While any area of your face can be augmented with implants, the cheek or malar area, chin, and jaw are the most common sites for facial implants.
Chin implants can increase the size and projection of a chin that is not in proportion with the forehead and mid-face. A small or recessed chin can also be described as one that seems to disappear into the neck of an individual of normal weight, rather than appearing as a distinct facial feature.
Jaw implants increase the width of the lower third of your face. Much like the chin, a weak jaw can be thought of as one that is not well defined and distinct from the neck or one that slopes rather than angles from the ear to the chin. In some
cases, both the chin and jaw can contribute to facial imbalance.
Cheek implants increase the projection of the cheekbones. They add volume to areas that may be recessed or flat.
Plastic surgery with facial implants is best performed on people whose head and skull have reached physical maturity, which generally occurs in late adolescence. This procedure is a good option for you if you:
- Are physically healthy
- Do not smoke
- Have a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for improvement of facial contours
Consultation and Preparing for Surgery
During your consultation be prepared to discuss:
- Your surgical goals
- Medical conditions, drug allergies, and medical treatments
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
- Previous surgeries
Your surgeon will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Take photographs
- Discuss your options
- Recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of facial implant surgery and any risks or potential complications
Prior to surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The options include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best option for you.
The cheek: The specific area to be augmented in the cheek determines where an implant will be positioned on the cheekbone. Cheek implants are most often placed through incisions in the mouth. When performed with other procedures, alternate incisions may be recommended including placement through an incision inside the lower eyelid or one within the hairline.
The chin: For a chin implant, the incision may be inside your mouth, along the crease that joins your lower lip and gums. An incision just beneath the chin is an alternative.
The jaw: These implants are generally placed through the mouth with incisions inside the mouth, back along the jawline at the crease where the inside of your cheek and gums meet. Your incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following your surgery.
While the initial outcome of plastic surgery with facial implants is noticeable almost immediately, it will be obscured by visible swelling. It may take several months for swelling to fully dissipate.
Risks and Safety
The decision to have facial implant surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
The risks include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Poor healing of incisions
- Anesthesia risks
- Change in skin sensation
- Damage to deeper structures – such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs – can occur and may be temporary or permanent
- Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations, or injected agents
- Firmness around the implant
- Shifting of implants
- Skin contour irregularities
- Skin discoloration, swelling and sensitivity
- Persistent pain
- Possible revisional surgery
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent.
It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Recovery After Surgery
When your procedure is finished, bandages or dressings may be applied to keep the surgical site clean and to support the position of the implant during initial healing.
You will be given specific instructions about how to care for the surgical site, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
- When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
While the initial outcome of plastic surgery with facial implants is present almost immediately, it will be obscured by visible swelling. It may take several months for swelling to fully dissipate.
The final results of your facial implant surgery will be long-lasting; however, the initial healing phase may include localized swelling, discoloration, numbness, or discomfort. In addition, facial movements may be temporarily restricted or impaired. These are common conditions.
Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery. It’s important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Prices for facial implant procedures can vary. A surgeon’s cost may be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, and the geographic location of the office. Many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Cost may include:
- Anesthesia fees
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Medical tests
- Prescriptions for medication
- Surgeon’s fee
Most health insurance plans will not cover facial implant surgery, related complications, or another surgery to revise the appearance of your face. You must carefully review your health insurance policy.