Cheek, Jaw and Chin Implants

What is a Facial Implant?

Facial implants are used to enhance certain features of your face, including your cheeks or your jaw line. The surgery may be elective, or needed as the result of prior surgery on the face. Through a facial implant, a plastic surgeon can aesthetically improve facial contours.

Am I A Candidate For a Face Implant?

You are a candidate for this procedure if you are in good physical and mental health. You should not expect perfection. Facial implants will not make you look like someone else. However, they will enhance your current features.

How Do I Know If a Face Implant is Right For Me?

When you sit down with your surgeon for your pre-operative consultation, he or she will ask detailed questions about your medical history. Among the things the surgeon will need to know is if you have had either cosmetic or reconstructive facial surgery before.

Additionally, he or she will want to know what you seek to change about your appearance and why you are unhappy with your features. Are there other surgeries you want or need to have done, such as a facelift , forehead lift , or other cosmetic procedure?

If you have dental problems, you will need to let your surgeon know about these.

How Are Facial Implants Done?

During your pre-operative consultation, you and your surgeon will decide together whether you'll have local anesthesia with an oral sedative to help you relax or general anesthesia (which means you'll be put to sleep).

In most cases, facial implant surgery is completed on an outpatient basis in a hospital, your surgeon's office or a surgical center. Your surgeon will make this determination based on your particular case.

The length of surgery will depend on which part of your face is affected, but it commonly lasts between one to two hours.

Where Are Face Implants Placed?

  • Lower jaw implant. The implant is placed inside of the lower lip. Incision site will be secured with sutures that will dissolve in about one week. The procedure takes one to two hours.
  • Cheek implant. The implant is placed internally through upper lip or externally via your lower eyelid. Sutures will vary depending on whether they're internal or external. The procedure take about an hour.
  • Chin implant. The implant is placed internally to the lower lip, or under your chin. As with the cheek implant, sutures will vary depending on whether they're internal or external. The procedure takes 30 minutes to an hour

How Do I Prepare For a Face Implant?

The good news about facial implants is that the recovery is quick. You should need only to take one week off from work, at most. Of course, your recovery will depend on your own personal habits and whether or not you're having other surgery performed.

You should plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. If you live alone, you should also plan to have someone stay with you at least the first night once you're home.

Make sure to wear a loose blouse or shirt that does not have to be pulled over your face. Your surgeon will instruct you on which foods and medications to avoid before and after facial implant surgery. If you are a smoker, your surgeon may ask you to quit smoking for a certain period before and after the surgery.

What Will I Need When I'm Home?

Make sure you establish a home recovery area, which should include:

  • Plenty of ice
  • Freezer bags
  • Ointments or creams as recommended by the surgeon for any external incision sites
  • Clean gauze
  • Soft foods, such as protein shakes, pudding, Jell-O, ice cream
  • Telephone within reaching distance of your primary recovery area
  • Mouthwash (note that tooth brushing may be restricted based on your surgeon's recommendations)


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Are There Complications With Face Implants?

As with any surgery, you do risk certain side effects and complications. You will experience bruising and swelling, which can last at least two days. Your surgeon will let you know what to watch for, as far as excessive or abnormal swelling or bruising.

Because you are having an implant inserted into your body, there is a risk of the facial implant shifting. If this happens, you may have to undergo a follow-up operation. Your surgeon will discuss these possibilities with you. You also run the risk of infection; your surgeon will give you antibiotics in this case.

After Having an Implant, Contact Your Doctor Immediately if:

  • You develop a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more
  • You experience abnormal pain or swelling
  • You experience abnormal discharge (such as pus) from the incision site

Does Insurance Cover Facial Implants?

If you are having implants inserted as part of reconstruction surgery, your insurance carrier may offer coverage. Your surgeon can write a letter detailing your case and provide photos that will be taken in your pre-operative consultation.

It's important to be well versed on your carrier's policy so you're not surprised if they don't cover something.

If you are having the surgery performed on a cosmetic basis only, your insurance carrier likely will not provide coverage. It's very important that you realize future coverage may be affected and your premiums may increase after facial implant surgery.

Make sure you ask your insurance carrier exactly how your coverage will be affected.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic, Department of Dermatology
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, Sept. 2003.

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2003

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