Growing Trend in Chin Augmentation Procedures

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Article by
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

A well-defined jaw line and neck is an attractive feature and culturally seen as a sign of confidence. Chin augmentations are on the increase; up 71% in 2011. Here are some of the more subtle reasons why:

 

A small chin can make the face imbalanced. Ideally the upper, middle, and lower thirds of your face should be about the same size.  A recessive chin can make your nose look big, or out of proportion.


A weak chin or jaw line can make your neck look prematurely aged. Without good skeletal support, sagging skin starts to create jowls and hides the architecture of your jaw.


Skin dimpling on the chin starts in the forties. A chin augmentation can make this subtle sign of aging disappear.


A small chin can create inadequate lip support. If you have a long face and a relatively small chin, it may be necessary to actively keep lips closed when at rest.  It is called “lip strain.”


There are a number of procedures that can be done to improve a weak chin and jaw line. I usually do a chin augmentation (sculpting, enlargement) in conjunction with other facial procedures, such as a facelift or liposuction of the neck.

Chin Augmentation with Bone Chips?


The technique I prefer for chin augmentation is one where bone chips from a tissue bank are placed next to your mandible (lower jaw). These chips serve as a scaffold into which new cells from your own are induced to grow new bone and replace the scaffolding. The bone chips are of human origin, but have been treated so that no live cells are left, only the calcium matrix. They are sourced from a transplant tissue bank that provides corneas, cartilage, and tendon grafts for other medical uses. I like the bone chips because they adapt to any size or shape. It can be adjusted in the early postoperative phase if you do not like the new look. Eventually the transplanted bone is replaced by your own bone, so there is no foreign material.

 

Chin Enlargement with Fat Grafting


Another method of chin enlargement is done with fat grafting. Fat is harvested from the abdomen (or any available site) and grafted to the chin. This choice is used when fat is being transferred for multiple purposes. This technique is also called lipostructure. The most difficult problem with this method is that fat grafting to the face tends to resorb over time.

Implants for Your Chin?


Chins can be improved with implants as well. These devices can be soft and porous or firm and solid. Some of the reasons I do not use chin implants is that they can rotate and look crooked. They can also thin the bone of the mandible and create problems for teeth. They are a foreign body that has some potential for infection or creation of scar tissue. I do not use them for these reasons, but plastic surgeons do not always agree on techniques for accomplishing a goal.

 

Chin implants are a great way to get subtle improvement with either no visible scar or a small scar below the chin. If this seems like a procedure that might enhance your profile, it is recommended to schedule a consultation with a surgeon to analyze the options.