Cheek Lift

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.


What is a cheek lift?

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.

What does a cheek lift do?

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.

Who is a good candidate for a cheek lift?

A healthcare provider will determine if you’re a good candidate for a cheek lift if:

  • Your cheeks look heavy or start to sag.
  • The skin beneath your eyes looks hollow or baggy.
  • You’re physically healthy and don’t have a medical condition that affects your body’s ability to heal after surgery.
  • You don’t smoke, or you’re able to quit smoking for up to 12 weeks (three to six weeks before your cheek lift and another three to six weeks after your cheek lift).
  • You have realistic expectations for the procedure.

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.

How common is a cheek lift?

Cheek lifts are a common procedure. Most people decide to undergo this procedure after age 40 and 50.


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Procedure Details

How should I prepare for a cheek lift?

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:

  • What board certifications do you have?
  • Do you operate in an accredited surgical facility?
  • Do you have hospital privileges?
  • What credentials does your surgical staff have?
  • How many times have you performed a cheek lift?
  • What would you do if an emergency were to occur during my cheek lift procedure?

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:

  • Why do you want a cheek lift?
  • What are your expectations?
  • Have you had plastic surgery before?
  • Is a spouse, partner or friend encouraging you to get a cheek lift?

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.

Can I combine a cheek lift with other procedures?

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:

What happens during a cheek lift?

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:

  • General anesthesia. A doctor called an anesthesiologist gives you anesthesia. You won’t be awake.
  • Conscious sedation. A healthcare provider gives you a sedative to calm you and an anesthetic to prevent pain. You’re awake and aware of your surroundings, but you may not be able to talk.

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.

Where are the incisions for a cheek lift?

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:

  • Standard rhytidectomy (facelift) incision: An incision around your ears, hairline or below your chin.
  • Blepharoplasty incision: An incision below your lower eyelash line.
  • Transoral incision: An incision in your mouth.
  • Endoscopic temporal incision: An incision in the skin between your ear and forehead (temple) or forehead.

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.

How long does a cheek lift take?

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.


What happens after a cheek lift?

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.

Risks / Benefits

What are the benefits of a cheek lift?

There are many advantages to a cheek lift, including:

  • Immediate, long-lasting results. Your face will look younger and smoother immediately after your cheek lift, and the results typically last 10 years, but your experience may be different. Nonsurgical cheek lift procedures, including botulinum toxin injections and dermal fillers, wear off within three months to 18 months.
  • Quick procedure and recovery. A cheek lift may offer a much shorter procedure and healing time compared to a traditional facelift.
  • Safety. A cheek lift is a relatively safe procedure with a low risk of complications or side effects.
  • Self-esteem boost. A youthful appearance can help restore confidence and satisfaction.
  • Low risk of visible scarring. Your hairline, facial hair or the natural outlines or edges (contours) of your face typically hide any incision scars.

How long does a cheek lift last?

Cheek lift results usually last about 10 years. This can vary from person to person.


What are the risks or complications of a cheek lift?

As with any surgical procedure, getting a cheek lift poses some risks, including:

  • Bruising.
  • Swelling (edema).
  • Temporary numbness under your eyes.
  • Temporary muscle numbness when moving the middle portion of your face.
  • Blood clots.
  • Mass of clotted blood (hematoma) or an accumulation of fluid (seroma).
  • Infection.
  • Hair loss along your incision.
  • Your face doesn’t look balanced (asymmetrical).

Recovery and Outlook

What is the recovery time for a cheek lift?

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:

  • Swelling and bruising.
  • Pain or soreness.
  • Light bleeding from the incision site.

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.

When can I go back to my regular activities after a cheek lift?

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.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I call my healthcare provider?

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:

  • Bleeding that seeps through your bandages.
  • Extreme swelling.
  • Fever.
  • Abnormal discharge from your incision sites, such as pus.
  • Extreme pain.
  • Your sutures come out before the date of removal.

Additional Common Questions

Is a cheek lift the same as a facelift?

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.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 11/17/2023.

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