If you’re self-conscious about having low or barely visible cheekbones, you may be considering cheek fillers, also called dermal fillers.
These cosmetic procedures are designed to lift your cheekbones, add volume to your face, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles
Cheek fillers are becoming more and more popular, but they do carry some risks of side effects.
This article will answer your questions about what the procedure is like, and whether cheek fillers are right for you.
Cheek fillers are injections that raise the volume of the area above and around your cheekbones. This provides the illusion of a more defined bone structure. By injecting volume under your skin layer, cheek fillers can also smooth out wrinkles and fine lines.
There are several kinds of materials that are approved for use in cheek fillers.
Hyaluronic acid (Juvederm, Restylane) and polylactic acid (Sculptra) are two types of dermal fillers recommended for use in the cheek and under-eye area. These types of dermal fillers are temporary.
Other fillers, such as Radiesse (hydroxylapatite), are also used off-label for this area.
Depending on the type that you choose, cheek fillers can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before results are no longer noticeable. The dermal filler material eventually dissolves and metabolizes into your skin tissue.
If you’re a healthy nonsmoker without a history of chronic health conditions, you may be a candidate for cheek fillers. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, you should avoid getting cheek fillers if you:
. have bleeding disorders
. are allergic to the synthetic compounds used in dermal fillers
. are pregnant or breastfeeding
After a consultation with a trained provider where you discuss pricing, cost, and your desired results, you’ll schedule an appointment for a filler injection.
In the 2 weeks prior to the procedure, you’ll need to avoid taking any blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin.
If you’re on prescription blood thinners, let your provider know at your consultation meeting. They may give you additional guidelines for how to prep for your filler appointment.
If you’re thinking about getting cheek fillers, finding a trained provider should be your first step. Using a discounted or unlicensed provider significantly increases your risk of complications from dermal fillers.
Compared to other treatment options, such as cheek implants and surgical facelifts, cheek fillers have several obvious benefits:
. Cheek fillers can be performed in a plastic surgeon’s office and require little or no anesthesia.
. Recovery for cheek fillers is quick, and many people can go right back to work or their regular activities afterward.
. Cheek fillers last for months or years, but the result isn’t permanent, so if you change your mind about them, you aren’t stuck with the result.
. Cheek fillers carry a very low risk of serious complications or infection.
. Cheek fillers can be modified after insertion, meaning that you can add more filler to the injection site until you achieve your desired result.
. Cheek fillers are less expensive than more invasive plastic surgery for making your cheeks appear more defined.
Cheek fillers are a low-risk, fairly straightforward procedure with minimal recovery time. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk of side effects.
Common side effects of cheek fillers include:
All dermal fillers carry a slight risk of an allergic reaction or an infection. Other less common side effects include:
. filler leakage
. tissue death due to circulation blockage
. injury to your veins or arteries
. vision loss
There’s also the risk of injection material migrating to other parts of your face, causing a lumpy or asymmetrical appearance. If this does happen, your doctor may inject another material to dissolve the filler, or simply wait for the filler material to metabolize on its own.
The risk of rare side effects is higher if you use an unlicensed or inexperienced provider.
During the appointment, you’ll recline in a sterilized environment. Your doctor may apply a topical anesthetic to the injection site, or there may be a numbing agent already mixed into the filler itself. The injection process should be simple and will only last 20 minutes or so.
After the injection, you’ll be able to see some of the results immediately. It will take a day or two for the filler to settle into its position on your face.
You can drive after the procedure, and you can even return to work or other appointments immediately after.
During the first few days after an injection, you should avoid sleeping on your cheeks. Try to sleep facing up, flat on your back.
You may also want to avoid strenuous exercise until the filler has completely taken its shape, 48 hours after the injection procedure.
Avoid touching your face, and keep your face clean and dry as much as possible until the risk of infection has passed.