Let’s face it: images of faces plumped with filler are everywhere you look — whether you can spot it or not. And according to a 2018 report published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, this is one trend that's not going anywhere, especially for one area in particular: the highly coveted sculpted cheekbone.
With the help of renowned double board-certified facial plastic surgeons Dr. Dara Liotta and Dr. Lesley Rabach, as well as clean skincare pioneer (with three Harvard degrees, no biggie), Dr. Macrene Alexiades, we break down the basics on cheek filler to give curious minds all the need-to-know info.
Find out more about how the procedure works, how long it lasts, and the risk factors, ahead.
What Does Cheek Filler Do?
Basically, cheek filler works to make you look younger, plumper, and more contoured via injecting a gel-like formulation under the skin to increase vibrancy or restore volume from signs of aging.
“Cheekbone filler is a truly amazing way to refresh your appearance in a natural-looking way,” says Dr. Rabach. “It makes a more chiseled appearance for men and a more highlighted appearance for women.”
How Do Cheek Fillers Work?
Cheekbone filler is about as close to a universally flattering cosmetic procedure as they come. The process is completely tailored to your specific needs, goals, and anatomy in order to enhance your natural bone structure.
According to Dr. Liotta, cheek filler is most commonly used to “add more lift at the outermost part of the cheekbone to raise the cheekbone and bring more light up around the eyes” or to boost volume to the apples of your cheek to “eliminate areas of shadow.”
Cheek filler is also an excellent shorter-term solution to correct asymmetry and achieve facial balance and harmony.
“The good and the bad of fillers is that they’re not permanent,” says Dr. Liotta. And in order to sustain your cheek’s newfound fullness, “you’ll have to plan on repeat injections about every one to two years.”
What Type of Filler is Best for Cheeks?
“There are two main types of filler that are best for the cheek area,” says Dr. Rabach. “One is hyaluronic-based filler Juvdérm Voluma and the other is called Radiesse, which mimics bone.”
Dr. Rabach frequently combines the two types of filler in order to “make the best and most natural results,” while Dr. Liotta exclusively favors HA-based fillers due to the fact that they can “be dissolved in the very unlikely event that they need to be removed.”
How Long Will Cheek Filler Last?
The lifespan of most cheek fillers is one to two years, depending on the type and amount of filler used. Your own metabolism can also impact longevity, according to Dr. Rabach, as each person’s body chemistry absorbs filler a little differently, too.
How Much Does it Cost?
The price of filler tends to vary by geographic region and doctor experience, in addition to the type of filler and how many syringes of product are used. Generally, for an appointment with a reputable, experienced board-certified dermatologist or surgeon, you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $1,000 to $1,500 per syringe.
And it goes without saying: save the bargain shopping for clothes, not your face.
What Should I Know About Recovery and Aftercare?
“The beauty of this treatment is precisely how incredible the result is with essentially no downtime,” says Dr. Rabach, who does recommend skipping the gym for the day and popping a Tylenol if the soreness becomes uncomfortable.
Bruising and swelling, although uncommon, are best soothed by applying an ice pack, and while the affected area may be a little tender to the touch for the next day or so, it typically feels like nothing more than what Dr. Rabach calls “a faint bruise.”
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Are There Risks or Side Effects?
Often, the biggest risk with cheek filler, or filler period, is not knowing when to cool it.
“Filler is biostimulatory,” says Dr. Alexiades, founder of Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center of New York and Associate Clinical Professor at Yale University School of Medicine, meaning that skin is stimulated to expand to accommodate the injection.
If skin is over-stimulated, aka overfilled, the cheeks “end up looking round, almost like softballs, over inflated, and sometimes have a dimply appearance,” the MD cautions.
Word to the wise: check yourself to make sure your goals are realistic and listen to your doctor if they say enough is enough.
What if I Hate It?
One of the most important steps to ensure post-procedure happiness is to leave no stone unturned when researching a prospective doctor, and taking a long, hard look at the before-and-afters on their site to ensure their work vibes with your vision.
“You need to choose someone who has an aesthetic that you trust,” Dr. Liotta recommends. “Beauty is, of course, subjective, and overdoing it can make a body positive decision to get filler into a regretful waste of money.”
If you’re feeling a little unsure about your results, try to hold judgement for about two weeks post-procedure to let any lingering swelling to subside, but if you’re still anything less than totally happy, you can have your provider dissolve hyaluronic acid-based fillers with an injection of hyaluronidase, which Dr. Liotta says should work within 48 hours.