Our facial features are literally our gateway to the outside world, forming the initial means by which each of us is recognized and remembered. For those who suffer from disproportionate features, or who have been injured in some way, self-consciousness and self-confidence issues can dramatically affect their quality of life and how they interact with the world.
It’s important to remember than all human features have a natural degree of asymmetry, which actually works to make the total visage more attractive and harmonious. Implant surgeons understand correct facial proportions and strive for a realistic and natural look rather than a “perfect” appearance. Patients whose expectations are equally realistic will enjoy the greatest degree of post-surgical satisfaction with their implants.
Plastic surgeons, however, have perfected the use of facial implants for facial reshaping. These devices create a natural appearance that can still be dramatic in its effect. By inserting inert material into the face via small, discreet incisions, the features can be evened out, harmonized, and contoured. The most common areas where such implants are used are the cheeks, chin, and jaw.
Implant surgery should only be considered after careful consultation with a board-certified surgeon specifically trained in the required techniques. The ideal patients are those in good overall general health with realistic expectations.
Mildly disproportionate features can be almost completely eliminated, and those that have been damaged by injury can be greatly improved. The implants are specifically shaped to accommodate the needs of the individual patient.
However, those people who understand both the nature of the procedure and its likely outcome -- including the limitations of the approach -- are the ones who will be the more satisfied with the final results.
The use of facial implants has become so well-known, that the technique is often combined with other kinds of cosmetic work, particularly a face lift. This is especially true in older patients. To completely understand how implants are used and to decide if they are suitable for your personal goals, it’s best to speak with a board-certified plastic surgeon to learn more about the nature of the procedure, the costs, and the details of the recovery period.
The initial consultation is one of the most important aspects of any cosmetic procedure. This visit allows patients to refine their expectations about the outcome of the surgery, as well as to meet and interact with the doctor, learn more about his or her qualifications, get a sense of what is involved in the recovery period, and determine basic costs.
Your surgeon will walk you through the procedure and should be able to provide you with an accurate cost estimate. (Be sure this includes “extras” like facility use fees.) It is especially important that your surgeon know all details of your dental health since some of the required incisions may be placed in the mouth. Smokers may face additional complications.
If the surgery is to take place in the surgeon’s office, a local anesthetic will be used. Get an idea of the time needed for the procedure in order to arrange transportation and aftercare. Many implant procedures require an hour or less.
Since two implants are required for a cheek or lower jaw procedure, the healing process is longer. The required incisions are usually made in the mouth. The surgeon creates a small hollow or pocket in the flesh to hold the implant, which is made of soft, inert material.
If sutures are used in the mouth, they typically dissolve on their own with no post-operative care needed. Oral infections are a possibility in the bacteria-rich environment of the mouth, so antibiotics are typically prescribed along with a program of specific dental hygiene and a diet of soft foods.
In rare cases, the tissue surrounding the implant can also become infected, which can necessitate removal of the device. There are also instances when an implant can shift in place and require a second surgery for realignment, but again, these occasions are not common.
Even though the materials used for modern implants are biologically compatible and inert, there are still some risks associated with certain materials. Always ask what kind of implant the surgeon plans to use and research any concerns associated with it in advance of the surgery itself.
Recovery from a facial implant is much less complicated than with other types of cosmetic procedures. Most patients experience only minor swelling and discomfort for the first two days after the surgery. At that point, most people can resume their normal activities.
Any activity that could jar or impact the face, like playing sports, should be avoided for at least a few weeks. Though most side effects subside by the end of the first week, it's possible that minor swelling can persist for a month or so, obscuring the final results of the implant.
Most patients see their new facial contours clearly after the first two months when the tissues have completely healed. Usually the difference is subtle. People won't be able to tell that you've had a cosmetic enhancement. They'll only see that you look better, but they won't be able to put their finger on why.