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Pros and Cons of Cheek Fillers

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Plump, sculpted cheeks that give the appearance of youth and vitality. It's the look many strive for, turning to dermal fillers as an instant and non-surgical solution. Cheek fillers promise to rejuvenate facial features by adding volume that lifts and contours. But are the benefits worth the risks?

Get ready to weigh the pros and cons as we delve into the cheeky world of dermal fillers. Whether you're considering injections or just curious, you'll learn the skinny on these volumizing injections - from the coveted cheeks they can create to the caveats you can't ignore. Let's begin this journey into pumped up cheeks with eyes wide open.

What are Cheek Fillers?

cheek filler treatment

Cheek fillers are a type of nonsurgical cosmetic procedure that can give your cheeks a fuller, more defined look. They are injectable dermal filler gels that raise the volume of the area above and around your cheekbones, providing the illusion of a more defined bone structure.

By injecting volume under your skin layer, cheek fillers can also smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. There are several types of dermal fillers that can enhance the appearance of your cheekbones, and how they work depends on the type of filler your provider uses. The most common types of cheek fillers are:

Filler TypeDescription
Hyaluronic acid-based fillersThese fillers, such as Restylane and Juvederm, are the most common choice for volumizing and softening facial wrinkles and lines on the cheek area. They can also be used to improve the skin's contour and reduce depressions in the skin due to scars, injury, or lines
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)These tiny collagen beads help your cheeks look firm and full. Providers use PMMA fillers to bring firmness and structure to your cheeks. Bellafill® is a brand that uses PMMA.
Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHa)This is a mineral-like compound found naturally in human bones. It's often used to moderate-to-severe creases such as nasolabial folds, marionette lines, and frown lines. It can also enhance fullness of the cheeks and other facial contours. Most popular brand is Radiesse.
poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA)PLLA is a synthetic, biocompatible, biodegradable polymer that is used as a dermal filler to restore volume and stimulate collagen formation. It is FDA-approved for correcting facial fat loss associated with antiretroviral therapy-induced lipoatrophy in HIV patients, as well as for use in immunocompetent people to correct nasolabial fold deficiencies and other facial wrinkles. Most popular brand is Sculptra.

Cheek fillers are designed to:

  • Add volume and fullness to areas that have lost fat and collagen
  • Lift and contour the cheek area for a more defined appearance
  • Minimize the look of fine lines, wrinkles and loose sagging skin
  • Restore a heart-shaped, youthful face by plumping flattened cheekbones
  • Correct asymmetry by balancing out facial hollows and contours

How Cheek Fillers Differ From Other Cosmetic Treatments

Unlike fat transfer and implants, cheek fillers involve no surgery and minimal downtime. Results happen faster with fillers compared to treatments that stimulate collagen like Ultherapy or microneedling.

Fillers offer more customizable shaping and volume adjustment compared to facial threading lifts. And unlike Botox, fillers replace lost volume rather than relax muscles.

Advantages of Cheek Fillers

1. Immediate or near-immediate results

One of the biggest advantages of cheek fillers is that results are visible right away or within a few days. Whereas surgical procedures require healing and collagen regeneration takes time, injectable fillers replace volume instantly. Patients walk out of their appointment with improved contours and a restored plumpness to the midface. This instant gratification is a major reason fillers are preferred over many other options.

2. Non-surgical nature of the procedure

Cheek fillers offer facial rejuvenation without the need for surgery and its associated risks and downtime. There are no incisions to heal from and no general anesthesia required. Most patients report minimal discomfort during the injections. This non-invasive nature provides a significant advantage over cheek implants and invasive surgical procedures that can require weeks of recovery time.

3. Ability to sculpt and enhance facial features

With their malleable consistency, dermal fillers allow for meticulous shaping and contouring of the cheeks and surrounding areas. The injector can artistically place filler exactly where needed - along the cheekbones, into hollows, around the nose and mouth, etc. - to achieve aesthetic balance and proportions. This enables a highly customized enhancement for each patient's unique facial structure. Implants do not offer this flexibility in sculpting.

4. Stimulation of natural collagen production

Some cheek fillers like Sculptra contain ingredients that spur collagen growth deep within the skin. This creates more long-term enhancement as the body produces its own filler. Even HA fillers prompt collagen stimulation that can sustain some of the effects. This means results from cheek fillers are not solely reliant on the filler itself being present - the body's own collagen plays a role.

The role of healthy collagen in maintaining youthful appearance

Collagen provides the supportive scaffolding that keeps skin firm, supple and wrinkle-free. When we lose collagen as we age, skin sags and creases form. By boosting natural collagen, cheek fillers help recapture a youthful volume and structure for longer-lasting effects. Collagen also makes the skin more radiant.

5. Low risk of complications compared to other procedures

As a non-invasive procedure, cheek fillers present minimal risks when performed by an experienced provider. There is no need to undergo general anesthesia or the larger risks that come with surgery. Some common side effects like bruising, swelling, numbness and redness typically resolve quickly on their own.

More serious complications like vascular occlusion and risk of infection are rare, occurring in less than 1% of cases. Proper injection technique further reduces any risks. Overall, cheek fillers offer a very safe means to facial rejuvenation with mild and temporary side effects for most.

6. The temporary nature of results - flexibility for changes

While filler effects are temporary and not permanent like surgery, some see this impermanence as a benefit. It allows flexibility to adjust the results over time. Patients can opt for more or less volume at subsequent appointments to achieve the perfect look. Temporary fillers also mean there is no lifelong commitment to one aesthetic. As faces change with age, fillers can be sculpted accordingly. Those unhappy with results need only wait for the fillers to dissipate. Permanent procedures do not offer this flexibility.

Disadvantages of Cheek Fillers

1. The impermanence of cheek fillers

The main drawback of cheek fillers is that results are not permanent. Most fillers last 6 months up to 2 years before the body absorbs them. Maintaining the desired look requires repeat injections and these regular costs can add up over time. For those seeking a permanent one-time solution, options like facial implant surgery may be preferable. However, implants have their own long-term risks like migration and palpability that filler injections avoid.

2. Potential side effects

While generally safe, cheek fillers do come with some potential adverse reactions including:

  • Short-term side effects like bruising, swelling, redness, tenderness and occasionally numbness. They typically resolve within a week. Proper post-procedure care helps minimize these effects.
  • Rarer side effects like vascular occlusion and infection are possible but unlikely, especially with an experienced injector. Vascular occlusion happens when filler accidentally blocks a blood vessel, compromising blood flow. This can lead to skin necrosis if untreated. Infection is also uncommon but prompt antibiotic treatment is needed if it occurs.

3. Limitations for certain individuals

Cheek fillers may not be recommended for patients with allergies and contraindications with certain medications. Those with lidocaine or HA allergies must avoid common numbing agents and fillers containing HA. Certain medications like blood thinners can also increase bleeding and bruising risks.

4. Importance of a skilled injector to avoid complications

The provider's injection technique and experience are pivotal in minimizing side effects. Inexpert injectors risk accidentally placing filler in blood vessels or using improper amounts, increasing the chances of vascular occlusion, asymmetry or poor results. Choosing an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon like those at Dr. Lanna Aesthetics helps avoid these problems.

5. Cost considerations

While less expensive than surgery, cheek fillers are not inexpensive, costing anywhere from $500 to $1400 per injectable treatment. Their temporary nature means ongoing upkeep requires repeat injections every 6-24 months. This makes fillers a larger cumulative investment over time compared to a one-time permanent surgery like implants. However, for those who enjoy subtly evolving their look over the years, fillers provide an affordable means to do so.

Alternatives to Cheek Fillers

Other alternative options for cheek enhancement include:

  • Fat transfer: This involves injecting a patient's own fat to the cheeks. The procedure involves removing fat from one part of the body, such as the abdomen or thighs, and injecting it into the cheeks to add volume.
  • Cheek implants: These are silicone or solid cheek implants that are inserted through incisions. This kind of augmentation is reserved for those who want a more permanent solution to cheek volume loss.
  • Combined procedures: Cheek implants can be paired with a midface lift to provide a more comprehensive solution to facial aging. A midface lift is a surgical procedure that lifts the cheeks and the area under the eyes to restore volume and reduce wrinkles.


a woman getting cheek filler treatment

Cheek fillers offer a fast, non-surgical way to restore a youthful cheek fullness and lift. When performed skillfully, injectable fillers pose very little risk and require minimal downtime. While results are not permanent, the flexibility of subcision touch-ups allows for evolving your look gradually.

On the other hand, maintenance is required long-term to sustain outcomes. All in all, cheek fillers present a well-tolerated, affordable option for achieving natural-looking cheek enhancement when performed by a trusted provider like Dr. Lanna Aesthetics.

The decision to pursue cheek filler injections ultimately comes down to your specific needs, budget, timeline and comfort with temporary versus permanent options. Regardless of which facial rejuvenation route you pursue, a consultation with board-certified cosmetic experts at Dr. Lanna Aesthetics provides crucial guidance tailored to your unique facial contours and aesthetic goals.

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