Facial implants are used to enhance certain features of your face, including your cheeks or your jaw line. You may choose to get the surgery for cosmetic reasons, or you might need it because of a prior surgery on your face.
Deciding to Get a Facial Implant
A good candidate for a face implant is someone in good health who has reasonable expectations. Face implants won't make you look like someone else. An implant, though, can enhance your features.
Before the surgery, you'll have a consultation with your plastic surgeon. You'll discuss your medical history, any dental problems you've had, and any prior cosmetic or reconstructive surgery you've had done on your face.
The surgeon will also want to know what you want to change about your appearance, why you have those goals, and whether you're also planning on getting other surgeries or cosmetic procedures done.
If you and the surgeon decide to go ahead with the surgery, you'll decide together what kind of anesthesia you'll have. You may decide to have local anesthesia with an oral sedative to help you relax. Or you may choose general anesthesia, which means you'll be "asleep" for the surgery.
The Facial Implant Procedure
In most cases, facial implant surgery is done on an outpatient basis (meaning no overnight stay) in a hospital, your surgeon's office, or a surgical center. How and where yours will be done will depend on your particular case.
How long the surgery lasts depends on which part of your face is involved. Commonly, though, surgery lasts between one and two hours.
These are the type of implants that are normally done:
- Lower jaw implant. The implant is placed inside the lower lip. The incision site will be secured with sutures that will dissolve in 2-3 weeks. The procedure takes one to two hours.
- Cheek implant. The implant is put in place either through your upper lip (internally) or through your lower eyelid. The procedure takes about an hour.
- Chin implant. The implant is placed through your lower lip or under your chin. The procedure takes 30 minutes to an hour.
Before and After the Surgery
Plan for someone drive you home from the hospital and to have someone stay with you for at least the first night once you're home.
Your surgeon will instruct you on which foods and medications to avoid before and after the surgery. If you smoke, your surgeon may ask you to quit smoking for a certain period before and after the procedure.
On the day of the surgery, wear a loose blouse or shirt that does not have to be pulled over your face.
Typically, recovery from a facial implant is quick. You should only need one week off from work at the most. Your actual recovery will depend on your personal habits and whether or not you're having another surgery done at the same time.
Recovering at Home
Before your surgery, set up an area in your home for recovery. The area should include:
- Plenty of ice
- Freezer bags
- 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
- Mouthwash (If you surgeon recommends not brushing your teeth while your face recovers)
After the surgery, you will have bruising and swelling that can last at least two days. Your surgeon will let you know what to watch for as far as excessive or abnormal swelling or bruising.
Complications From Facial Implants
As with any surgery, there are risks of certain side effects and complications.
Because you are having an implant inserted, there is a risk of the facial implant shifting. If this happens, you may need another surgery.
Infection is another risk. If you do have infection, your surgeon will give you antibiotics.
Contact your doctor immediately if you develop a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, experience abnormal pain or swelling, or have abnormal discharge from the incision site.
Insurance and Facial Implants?
Insurance coverage will likely depend on why you're having the surgery.
Your insurance company probably will not provide coverage if the surgery is for cosmetic reasons alone. It may offer coverage if your implants are part of reconstructive surgery. Your surgeon can write a letter detailing your case and provide photos that will be taken before the surgery.
Be sure to check on coverage in advance so you're clear on what is covered and what you will pay for.