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Cheek implants – are they right for me?

Cosmetic Surgery of the face

Cheek implants may be right for you if you have poorly defined cheekbones that leave you looking gaunt or if you feel your face is starting to sag unacceptably. Cheek implants are also used to repair damage following an accident or other trauma that has damaged the structure of your face. Cheek implants may also work well if you want to enhance ‘average’ looking cheek bones to achieve that distinguished high cheek bone look so favoured in the world of beauty and fashion.

 

What are cheek implants?

Cheek implants are put in place during a cheek augmentation operation. This surgical method enhances weak or damaged cheek bones by inserting an artificial cheek implant above or below the existing cheek bone.

 

Cheek implants can be made from your own tissue, but are more usually created using cheek implants made from silicone or polythene, as these materials are far more durable and will not degenerate like natural tissue.

 

What can cheek implants achieve?

Cheek implants can be placed above the cheekbone, creating the appearance of a high, well defined cheekbone, or placed below the cheekbone to fill out a sunken appearance. Sometimes one operation is used to place cheek implants in both positions, and may be done with other procedures as part of a face lift.

 

Who is suitable for cheek implants?

For cheek implants to work well for you, you will need to be in good health, both physically and mentally, and your chosen surgeon will want to assess this thoroughly before agreeing to the procedure.

 

Physically you will need to be fit enough to undergo the surgery, which will involve a general anaesthetic. The risks of surgery increase with age, high blood pressure and a wide range of other factors. Your doctor will advise whether these risks are acceptable for you for what is elective surgery; you are choosing to have it rather than needing it for a medical reason.

 

You also need to be in good, stable mental health if you are to cope with the changes that an altered facial appearance will bring. It is important that you understand that while an improved appearance will increase your confidence levels, it is not going to be an instant ‘cure-all’ for any emotional and social issues you may have. Your surgeon will discuss your reasons for having the surgery and may advise that you discuss these with a counsellor before you proceed.

 

What else should I consider with cheek implants?

It is important that you are realistic about what cheek implant surgery can achieve for you. You should research the procedure online, paying particular attention to before and after pictures so that you can gain an understanding of the potential results. You may not look like a movie star afterwards, and the surgery will not make you instantly popular. However, if you are self-conscious about your appearance, cheek implants can be a life-changing experience, giving you new confidence to address important issues in your life.

 

You should also consider the emotional impact on those close to you, especially family members. If your weak cheek bones are congenital, chances are your parents and siblings will share the same look. You should consider how they might feel about you correcting that defect and looking different from them.

 

Another factor to consider when assessing whether cheek implant surgery is right for you is the cost. Cosmetic surgery of this type can cost several thousand pounds and you will need to be off work for up to two weeks following the procedure. Many employers will not count this as sick leave and you will have to use holidays or take unpaid leave with their permission.

 

What are the risks of cheek implant surgery?

Every operation under general anaesthetic carries risks; these include reactions to the anaesthetic, problems with the surgery itself, infection afterwards and problems with bleeding. Fortunately these complications are rare, particularly if you are having your treatment with a reputable surgeon in a well-regarded private hospital.

 

As the body is a natural system, natural variations will occur in the outcome of the surgery. Just because it has been a complete success for others does not mean it will be so for you. There is a risk that slippage or uneven settling of the implants that may require additional surgery, and perhaps more time off work.

 

Cheek implants – are they right for you?

Cheek implants should not be undertaken lightly. Serious consideration needs to be given to the reasons for your choice, the realistic outcomes possible, the cost implications and the potential risks.

 

Your decision about whether cheek implants are right for you will be different to others, and will depend on the severity of your problem and its impact on your life. A minor defect may, on balance, be worth living with compared to the cost, whereas a more severe and obvious defect may outweigh all the risk and cost implications.

 

Your GP, and subsequently your surgeon, will be happy to discuss your surgery in detail with you so that you can decide whether cheek implant surgery is something that you definitely want.

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Kathryn Senior

Profile of the author

Dr Kathryn Senior is an acclaimed medical journalist who has written over 500 feature articles for leading international journals within The Lancet group. As Senior Writer at Freelance Copy she produces high quality scientific and medical content for websites and printed publications for companies and organisations in the health, medical and pharmaceutical sectors.