- Cheek fillers work by adding volume to certain areas of your cheeks, which can change their shape.
- This can make your cheekbones look higher and give you a more youthful appearance.
- The procedure takes ten minutes and costs about $650-$850 per syringe of filler.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Cheek fillers, also called dermal fillers, are designed to make your cheeks look fuller and more youthful. It’s a popular procedure — about one million Americans get them each year.
Important: Cheek fillers are purely cosmetic and you don’t need to get them for your health.
Here’s what you need to know about what happens during cheek filler injections, how to prepare for them, and what you should do afterward.
What are cheek fillers?
Cheek fillers work by adding volume to certain areas of your cheeks. Fillers can change the shape of your cheeks or restore areas that have lost fat over time.
“It also helps stimulate collagen to that area making the skin and contour more youthful,” says Lesley Rabach, MD, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon at LM Medical. Collagen is a protein that makes up the structure of your skin — as you age, collagen tends to decrease, leading to sagging skin.
The most common type of filler is made of hyaluronic acid, says Shaun Desai, MD, a facial plastic surgeon and professor at Johns Hopkins University. Hyaluronic acid is a substance your body produces that is partially responsible for the plumpness of skin.
Getting hyaluronic injections in your cheeks can be used to:
- Make your cheekbones look more pronounced
- Smooth out lines around your nose and mouth
- Bring back volume to sunken in cheeks
- Make your face look more symmetrical
Cheek fillers generally cost around $650-$850 per syringe of hyaluronic acid, but some patients may need more than one syringe to get their desired effect.
These kinds of fillers are a temporary fix — the effects generally last between six and 18 months. If you want a longer-lasting solution, you may need to get a facelift or a fat transfer — but these procedures are much more costly.
Before the procedure
Before you get cheek fillers, you will need to stop any medications that can cause blood thinning or increase your risk of bleeding, Desai says.
“We typically have patients stop all aspirin containing products for about one to two weeks before treatment, stop all supplements and reduce alcohol if possible,” says Rabach.
You should also avoid taking:
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen
- Digestive medications containing pain relievers like Pepto Bismol and Alka Seltzer
- Herbal supplements like St. John’s Wort and vitamin C
- Anti-clotting drugs like warfarin and heparin
- Vitamin E
Stanford University’s School of Medicine offers a complete list of medications to avoid before your cheek filler appointment here.
During the procedure
Depending on how many injections you get, the cheek filler procedure can take as little as 10 minutes, Rabach says.
Here’s a step-by-step of what to expect during the procedure:
- Disinfect your skin at the injection sites.
- Apply a numbing cream to your skin. You may not need numbing cream if you get a filler that contains lidocaine like Juvederm Ultra XC.
- Inject filler under your skin, often in multiple areas.
- Massage each injection site to ensure that the filler distributes evenly.
- Finally, your doctor may give you an ice pack to reduce swelling.
After the procedure
After your procedure, you can take certain steps to help with your recovery:
- Avoid drinking alcohol for 24 hours after getting fillers.
- Continue icing injection areas to reduce swelling.
- Don’t do any strenuous exercise for two days after your treatment. Exercise increases your blood flow, which can contribute to bruising.
“The great thing about fillers is that you see results almost instantly after injection,” Desai says. However, you will likely have some amount of swelling in your cheeks afterward.
There is no real downtime after cheek filler, Rabach says, and you should be able to go back to work and do your normal activities right away.
Your swelling should start to get better after 24 hours. “On certain occasions there may be some minor bruising which resolves within a few days,” Desai says.
You should see your final, un-swollen results about two weeks after getting cheek fillers, Rabach says.
Risks of cheek fillers
Cheek fillers usually don’t cause serious problems, but possible side effects include:
- Skin redness
- Temporary numbness
- The appearance of lumps at your injection sites
- A hypersensitive reaction with hives and swelling
If you continue icing and massaging the injection areas, any side effects should clear up within a few days.
Cheek fillers are a quick and effective treatment that can enhance your cheeks, smooth any lines, and make your skin look more youthful. Cheek fillers can be expensive, but it’s a quick procedure that shouldn’t interrupt your life.
“They are well tolerated, and extremely safe when performed by an experienced and knowledgeable injector,” Desai says.
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