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Facial Implants

Looking for a way to enhance certain features of your face, such as your cheeks or your jaw line? Or you may need a facial implant as part of surgery. Facial implants will not make you look like someone else; however, they will enhance your current features.

How do I know if a facial 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. Have you had cosmetic facial surgery before? Have you ever undergone reconstructive facial surgery? Additionally, he or she will want to know what you seek to change about your appearance. Why are you unhappy with your facial 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 certain 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 sedative, or general anesthesia (which means you’ll be asleep for the procedure).

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 1 and 2 hours. Sutures to close the incision will dissolve on their own if they are inside your mouth. An incision on the skin may have sutures that need to be removed.

Where are facial implants placed?

  • Jaw implant: Used to enhance the shape of the jaw line. Placed through an incision inside the mouth where the lower lip meets the gum.
  • Cheek implant: Placed through an incision inside the mouth where the upper lip meets the gum, or externally via your lower eyelid.
  • Chin implant: Either through an incision, inside the mouth where the lower lip meets the gum, or under your chin.

How do I prepare for a facial implant?

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

In any case, you should plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. You also should plan to have someone stay with you at least the first night once you’ve arrived home, if you live alone.

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, nicotine gum and nicotine skin patches for a certain period of time before and after the surgery. You will also be asked to stop any medications, multivitamins or herbal preparations that are known to thin your blood.

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

  • Post-operative pain medication
  • A one-week supply of your regular prescription medications
  • 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, as tooth brushing may be restricted based on your surgeon’s recommendations

Are there complications with facial implants?

As with any surgery, you do risk certain side effects and complications. You will experience bruising and swelling, which can last up to two weeks. 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.

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.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 4/24/2008…#11027

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