Infection - Cheek Implants Salvaged or Not?

Dear doctors, on thursday I took my last antibiotics against a possible infection of my cheek implants. At that time the symptoms were nearly completely gone except slight swelling. When do I know whether the implant are salvaged or not? What time frame I have to expect to wait to be sure. I know that if any symptom e.g. redness, fever or excessive swelling returns the infection could'nt resolved by antibiotics and the implants have to be removed. Thank you very much

Doctor Answers 6

Cheek implant removal

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Any artificial substance that gets infected needs to be removed unless the infection can be contained early with antibiotics. Removal of cheek implant is not as easy as placing them in . The determining factor is the type (silicone vs medpor) and the length of time they are in place. Also the implants tend to erode into the cheekbones and cause asymmetry. There will be sagging but some of that may contract due to your age and hopefully good skin quality.

Can cheek implants be saved after an infection

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I have performed many Cheek Augmentations using Cheek Implants over the past 20 years.  Although quite rare, Cheek Implants can become infected and a course of antibiotics should be tried and IMHO continued for 2-3 weeks or longer until the swelling and tenderness has completelty subsided.  If no symptoms return, the Cheek Implants should be fine.  If the infection comes back, another course of antibitics could be tried or the implants removed.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Cheek Implants Salvaged or Not?

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It is hard to convert infected into uninfected facial implants. Infection begins with creation of a microscopic layer of bacteria and debris from inflammation against the surface of the implant.. Since implants do not have their own blood supply (which would carry antibiotics to this area) this zone, or BIOFILM, is essentially a No Man's Zone where antibiotics do not always reach in high enough concentrations allowing for prolonged festering of the bacteria with periodic flare-ups.

As a result, there is no real "safe date". Some implants are clear in resisting treatment and become red and exposed while others may last for months to years with occasional mild swelling flare-ups. Unfortunately, under the latter scenario, the best way is to remove the implants, allow the area to heal for 6-8 months before considering going back in.

Peter A Aldea, MD 

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Infection - Cheek Implants Salvaged or Not?

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Very difficult to salvage cheek implants that were infected. Rule of thumb is for removal. But if you observe over a few months than you might be OK. 

Infected Cheek Implants

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In most cases, if there is any sign of infection around a foreign body (cheek implants, breast implants, etc), they should be removed and the infection allowed to heal.  If your symptoms return after discontinuing the antibiotics, then you most likely have a chronically infected implant that needs removal.



Good Luck.

Cheek Implants May Not Be Salvaged By Antibiotics Alone

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You will know that you have salvaged your cheek implants if you do not develop recurrent swelling or drainage once you have been off antibiotics for three months. Many times all antibiotics do is suppress an implant infection but is not very effective at getting rid of the slime bacterial layer that develops on the implant's surface. It is this layer that causes recurrent bacterial growth and infection once the effects of antibiotics have worn off. If the infection recurs, I would recommend that you have revisional surgery and replace the implants with new ones so that are not contaminated. The other option is to simply remove them and place new ones at a later date which is obviously less appealing.  

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.