Cheek Filler- Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, Boston Facial Plastic Surgeon, Explains

Featured Image

What is cheek filler?

Cheek filler is an injectable treatment into the malar (cheek) region of the face using a gel-like material.  The filler can be composed of a variety of materials, and some of the more popular are hyaluronic acid (HA), calcium hydroxyapatite, and poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA).


What are the benefits of cheek filler injections?

The benefits of cheek filler include restoration of volume in the cheekbone area.  Cheek filler can also help to better define and enhance your cheeks, restoring a more-youthful appearance, and also help to smooth out wrinkles.


How much does it typically cost? 

The cost of cheek filler varies quite a bit depending on location, provider, and the amount of filler injected.  The price can range from around $1000 per treatment to over $5000 for those who need more volume restoration.


How do you recommend patients prepare for cheek filler injections? 

Before getting cheek filler, you can do a few things to help reduce side-effects including avoiding medicines that can increase the risk of bruising (NSAIDS and aspirin, as well as fish oil).  Of course, if you are taking a blood thinner medicine on the advice of your physician, make sure you check with your doctor first.  Arnica tablets and topical gel may help to decrease bruising as well, so some people pre-treat with arnica too. It is also important to have a consultation with a licensed provider who has experience with filler injections.  He or she will be able recommend a treatment plan based on your goals and exam.


What is the experience of getting cheek fillers like? 

After consulting with your medical provider about your concerns and goals for treatment, signed informed consent, and had pretreatment photos taken, the experience is relatively simple.  First the cheek area may be marked and cooled with an ice pack.  Prior to injection the skin cleaned with an antiseptic.  Sometimes a topical numbing cream or local anesthetic injection is performed, but even if not, most dermal fillers on the market today have numbing medicine (lidocaine) premixed with the filler itself.  This means that as the injections proceed, the area becomes more numb, and therefore more comfortable.  Sometimes the needles pinch a bit going into the skin and if they hit the covering over the cheekbone, called the periosteum, which is sensitive.  Once treatment is complete, your provider may give you another ice pack to help with swelling and bruising. The treatment can take around 15-20 minutes.

What are the potential side effects of getting cheek filler?

Potential risks of cheek filler include bruising, swelling and discomfort at the treatment site, all of which will subside on their own over time.  Sometimes there can be uneven distribution of the cheek filler, leading to nodules or asymmetric cheek volume.  Less common, but importantly, there is a risk of allergic reactions, granulomas, infections, and vascular compromise (due to blood vessel blockage or compression), which can lead to tissue death and even vision loss.



What does the aftercare look like?

Overall, there is little to no downtime after receiving cheek filler.  I do recommend avoiding sweating or working out for the first 24 hours to decrease risk of infection.  The area may be slightly bruised or swollen after treatment and can also be sore to touch.  These things should subside in a few days.  With that, if you have an important event coming up, I would recommend having the treatment done at least a week ahead of time.

How long do the results last?

Depending on the dermal filler product used and, sometimes, the activity level of the person, cheek filler can last anywhere from approximately 6 months to 2 years for non-permanent fillers like hyaluronic acid.  Some fillers are semi-permanent and can last a lot longer.  Also, some people who are active will find that they metabolize the filler more quickly.  

One thing that’s nice about cheek filler injections (as opposed to neurotoxin injections) is that you’ll see the results immediately.  There may be some swelling associated with the injection at first, so after a week or two, you may find that the initial results ‘deflate’ a bit, so you may opt for a touch-up about 2 weeks after treatment.

In summary, cheek filler is a great option for patients who want to regain mid-facial volume.  It's one of our favorite treatments at the DeRosa Center for Facial Plastic Surgery here in Boston.