Cheek Implant Frequently Asked Questions
Paper or Plastic?
I frequently get asked what material is the best for facial implants and my answer is usually silicone. Silicone rubber has been used in the body for decades and is in many medical and surgical devices. When silicone is placed over bone, it feels like bone. A big advantage is that since it is soft, it will conform to the underlying anatomy and never feel like a sharp edge. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that if a silicone implant needs removal or replacement, they are very serviceable. Some implants are made from porous polyethylene and there are potentially significant problems with these implants if they need to be removed or replaced. Believe me when I say this because I have taken them out from patients from all over the world that were placed by other surgeons. These implants enable soft tissue growth and when removed can cause tissue loss and soft tissue defects. It is not uncommon to have connective tissue and muscle attached when removing them and some surgeons refuse to remove them because the risk of tissue and nerve damage. Another problem with the rigid implants is that they do not conform to the underlying tissue and it is not uncommon to feel a ledge or ridge. Having said this, these implants are OK if they integrate and don’t need removal. In actuality, there are many materials that are suitable for implantation. It is not my place to condemn any implant, I can only relate my personal experiences and those of respected colleagues. I have successfully used silicone for over 25 years and when fixating the implants with a microscrew, have had very little problems.
How Long Will My Implants Last?
This is a frequently asked question. The answer is decades, maybe forever. Since the implant is placed on the bone deep beneath the skin and usually secured with a single micro screw, it can’t move anywhere. Unlike injectables, fat and lifting procedures, the cheek implants become a permanent part of your facial bones. Remember, although the result is extremely long lasting, the implants may be easily removed with local anesthesia at any time.
How Do I Know What Size to Use?
This is the art of facial implants and largely depends on the physicians experience. Dr. Niamtu spends significant time with facial implant patients assisting them in the selection of the proper implant. Besides listening to what the patient wants and accessing what the patient needs, there are also implant “try ins” that allow Dr. Niamtu to select the best fitting and shaped implant for each patient.
How Long does the Cheek Implant Procedure Take?
Cheek implants can be placed with local anesthesia alone or with IV sedation. The procedure takes about 15 minutes per side.
How Long is the Recovery?
The recovery for cheek implants varies but generally after several days most patients can return to light activity. Some patients will also return to work after 3-4 days. Recovery depends upon the amount of swelling that occurs with individual patients as some people swell more than others. In addition, the ability to smile and pucker will be slightly different for the first week to ten days. The average patient misses one week from work.
Can the Implants Move Around?
Dr. Niamtu secures the cheek implants with a tiny micro screw (no, it won’t set off the metal detector at the airport!) to keep them in place. Failure to do this can lead to problems with result, infection and bone loss under the implant. By securing the implant these mobility related problems are eliminated.
The image on the right shows the microscrew used to secure cheek implants.