A cheek lift is a common type of cosmetic surgery that involves improving visual signs of aging in your midface area. Candidates should be in good physical and mental health and have realistic expectations.
A cheek lift (midface lift) is a type of cosmetic surgery that lifts and smooths your cheeks and the surrounding areas of your face. It treats the upper parts of your cheeks and the lower eyelid areas, which may flatten and lengthen with age. In contrast, a traditional facelift treats the lower area of your face and often your neck.
Doctors called plastic surgeons perform cheek lifts. Your surgeon may use a camera (endoscope) to help complete the procedure. If so, they may refer to the surgery as an endoscopic midface lift or endoscopic cheek lift.
You might consider getting a cheek lift if you wish to make your face look younger and smoother. A cheek lift makes your cheekbones look more noticeable and lifts your smile lines (nasolabial folds). These are the folds of skin that extend from each side of your nose to the corners of your mouth.
A cheek lift is ideal for addressing aging in the middle of your face. However, it doesn’t address drooping around your neckline or your lower jaw and throat (jowls). It also doesn’t address heaviness in your brow or upper eyelids. Separate procedures manage these areas.
A healthcare provider will determine if you’re a good candidate for a cheek lift if:
Getting a cheek lift is a personal decision. Pursuing your wants and desires for your body can be very empowering. But a decision to change how you look should be for your own reasons, not due to pressure from others.
Cheek lifts are a common procedure. Most people decide to undergo this procedure after age 40 and 50.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Before a cheek lift procedure, it’s very important to find an experienced plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Before you commit to a cheek lift, ask your plastic surgeon the following questions:
Once you find an experienced plastic surgeon, they’ll assess your mental health and social factors behind your decision to change part of your body. Your healthcare provider may ask the following questions:
Your healthcare provider will evaluate your general health by performing a physical exam. They’ll also discuss any preexisting conditions or risk factors that may affect the outcome of the procedure.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any allergies you have. Tell them about any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications that you’re taking, including herbal supplements. Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and certain herbal supplements can increase your risk of bleeding.
Your surgeon may add or adjust what medications you currently take to help you prepare for surgery. Don’t make changes to your medications unless a healthcare provider approves it.
Yes, you can combine a cheek lift with other procedures. Discuss your aesthetic goals with your plastic surgeon. They’ll let you know the best method to help you achieve your desired look with as little recovery time as possible. Common procedures that you might consider combining with a cheek lift include:
During a cheek lift procedure, your plastic surgeon will reposition the fat pads (malar fat pads) in your cheeks and tighten the skin in your cheek areas.
Shortly before a cheek lift procedure, you’ll take medicines so you won’t feel pain. There are two options:
After you get an anesthetic, your plastic surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your skin. Then, they’ll insert a small endoscopic camera to see inside your cheek. They’ll use long surgical instruments to elevate your fat pads and secure them into their original position with internal sutures.
Your plastic surgeon will make an incision (cut) in one of two areas (dissection planes), depending on the shape of your face. The incision may be on the surface of your skin (superficial) or through the thin membrane on the outside of your facial bones (periosteum).
In a cheek lift, these incisions include:
There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of incision. Talk to your plastic surgeon about the best kind of incision for you before your procedure.
The amount of time it takes to complete a cheek lift depends on the technique and type of incision. Most cheek lift procedures take approximately two hours to complete.
After the cheek lift procedure is complete, a healthcare provider will cover your incisions with bandages. They may also place a small tube under both of your ears to drain any blood or fluid.
You’ll move to a recovery room, where healthcare providers will wait for you to wake up or your anesthetic to wear off and monitor your overall health. Once your care team determines that you no longer need monitoring, they’ll discharge you (let you go home).
Anesthesia will make you feel groggy and unsteady. You need to have someone drive you home and take care of you for the first 24 hours after your cheek lift.
Before you go home, your plastic surgeon will give you specific instructions for your recovery, including how to care for your incisions and drainage tubes. They’ll also schedule follow-up appointments and give you a prescription for pain medication, if necessary.
There are many advantages to a cheek lift, including:
Cheek lift results usually last about 10 years. This can vary from person to person.
As with any surgical procedure, getting a cheek lift poses some risks, including:
After a cheek lift procedure, the recovery time usually takes seven to 10 days. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body heals differently, so recovery times may vary.
The first several days after a cheek lift are often the most uncomfortable. You may notice:
You can ease minimal bruising and swelling in the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure with ice. Apply a bag of ice or an ice pack covered in a light towel over your affected areas for at least 10 minutes. Apply ice at least four times a day.
After seven to 10 days, your pain should decrease. Some people take either a prescribed pain medication or over-the-counter (OTC) acetaminophen to manage pain. Discuss your allergies and complete medical history with your provider before taking any pain medications.
Avoid physical activity for at least two weeks, including bending over, lifting heavy objects and running. It’s also a good idea to avoid turning your head quickly. Slowly turn your head with your shoulders — not your neck — until you heal completely.
You may experience swelling around your cheeks that can last up to six weeks. In addition, you may notice tenderness while chewing food.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on managing your pain and discomfort through your recovery.
Depending on your job and other personal responsibilities, you should be able to go back to most activities, like work, a week after your cheek lift procedure. You should delay participating in more physically demanding activities for several weeks until your healthcare provider clears you.
Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to assess your incisions, bruising and swelling, as well as to remove your stitches.
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following:
No. A cheek lift is a different procedure from a facelift. During a cheek lift, your surgeon will elevate the fat pad in your cheek. A traditional facelift tightens the muscles and other structures underneath your skin in your face and neck. They’ll also remove excess fat and reposition your skin naturally. A cheek lift has a shorter procedure duration and healing time vs. a facelift.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Getting a cheek lift is a personal decision. If you wish to make your cheek areas look younger and smoother, talk to a plastic surgeon to discuss your options. A cheek lift can boost your confidence, but you should be aware that the results last about 10 years, so you may need to get a cheek lift several times throughout your life. A cheek lift also won’t address areas outside your midface, so you may need to combine it with other cosmetic procedures to meet your goals. Talk to your healthcare provider about your questions and concerns, and learn more about the outcomes and risks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/17/2023.
Learn more about our editorial process.