Possible Short-term and Long-term Side Effects of Facial Liposculpture

I am interested in facial liposuction to sculpt my lower cheeks. There is very little information available on this procedure, but I understand that in the shorter term, it may actually tighten the skin as the scar tissue contracts during the healing process. I am wondering what the long-term side effects are on skin laxity or the possible ramifications on aging facial tissue. I am 32, Asian/Irish, with pale and delicate skin that is prone to broken /dilated capillaries. Is this procedure generally recommended for someone with thin, delicate skin? What are the possible short-term and long-term side effects of this procedure?

Doctor Answers 20

Liposuction generally is no longer done on the "face"

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There once was a time when liposuction was done to the cheeks of patients whose cheeks were chubby. This is no longer done after the experience with these previous patients. Liposuction is generally confined to the jawline and neck and in these regions, works best in younger patients whose skin might shrink better than older patients.

The reason that liposuction didn't work well in the cheeks is anatomical. There isn't much distance between the skin, the fat, the underlying facial muscles, and the nerves that run the muscles. In order not to injure the nerves, liposuction needs to be kept closer to the skin, far away from the nerves. When you liposuction too close to the skin, you will see grooves and ridges that are permanent and impossible to eliminate.

So, liposuction above the jawline isn't a good idea.

Skin tightening

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This issue of skin tightening after liposuction treatment is something that there is a bit of a buzz about right now. There are several techniques that claim increased skin tightening in addition to fat removal. They include laser liposuction (or liposculpting), ultrasonic liposuction, etc.

The difference is that in addition to removing unwanted fat there is energy delivered to the dermis (the deeper layers of your skin) and the collagen (one of the main structural proteins that makes up your skin) remodels (tightens). There's pretty good evidence that this can make small differences in skin excess.

The key is that the skin tightening will not be as dramatic (and some claim not as long lasting) as more traditional skin tightening procedures (facelift, mini-facelift). At 32 you probably don't have much excess skin though.

I hope this helps!

Liposculpture of the face has special risks of aging

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As humans age our faces narrow and become longer and cheeks thin and droop. People with narrow faces and sunken cheeks frequently are judged to be ill or old. Liposculpture of the face may initially look good but cause faster aging subsequently. As with any advice there are plenty of exceptions for whom liposculpture may be appropriate such as in treating jowls.

Edward Lack, MD
Chicago Dermatologist

Facial Liposuction Must Be Performed By Professional

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The face is an extremely delicate area that requires extreme care and finesse when performing liposculpture. Inexpert facial liposuction can result in ridged skin, damaged vessels or other irregularities. Our center has many years' experience with facial liposuction of the head and neck. Please do not consider facial liposuction until you have consulted with a board-certified dermatologist who has experience and expertise with this technique.

Douglas Wu, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
4.9 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

Possible Short-term and Long-term Side Effects of Facial Liposculpture

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-- Hello dear, thanks for your question and provided information as well.. This is the surgical procedure that revolutionized cosmetic surgery becoming one of the most performed cosmetic procedures. Subcutaneous tissue or fat is removed in order to contour the body in a way that is harmonious and pleasing to the senses. It can be performed in almost all regions of the body such as the neck, chin, abdomen, back, buttocks, thighs, arms and ankles. Usually done through a small incision in the skin through which a cannula connected to a vacuum is applied, it can be performed alone or in combination with other procedures. After liposuction your body is going to be really swollen for at least 2 to 4 months after your surgery. It is important for you to wear your compression garment for at least 6 months, the first 3 months 24/7 and then the last 3 months at least 12 hours per day for your body get use to not having the faja for so many time. When you remove it, your body can get swollen and also you can have pain. Remember to also compress your body to prevent a seroma which is an accumulation of liquid that has to be drained, it is hard to touch and also really painful. Bruises are completely normal for almost 3 months from surgery, that’s why is better for you to use a bruising cream and apply it all over your body 3 times a day. To prevent bad circulation and swollen legs, use compression socks. Brazilian butt lift can be performed with the same procedure and for a month it will be swollen and it will drop a little bit without losing it’s shape if you use your garment.. If you’re going to perform liposuction on your inner, outer, anterior, lateral, postetior thighs, be careful and consult with your surgeon what’s best for you, sometimes we have more extra skin than fat, that can cause severe sagginess on our legs, which can be only be reversed performing a thigh lift!

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 442 reviews

Facial Liposculpture: A Risky Approach

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While I routinely use liposuction to remove fat under the chin and around the neck, I would not recommend it to slim and contour the face. There is far too much risk of nerve damage, and there are safer ways to restore youthful contour to the cheeks and face. I’m specifically thinking of Venus Legacy, a non-surgical protocol for fat removal, skin tightening, and body contouring. It is effective for toning and tightening the face as well as any areas of the body prone to fatty deposits. I’d suggest you ask your cosmetic surgeon about it to achieve a noticeable improvement in your appearance.

Hal Michael Bass, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction of the cheeks

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In general liposuction of the cheeks in not performed except in rare cases. The facial nerve runs in this area and is at risk.  Some people have a large buccal fat pad in the lower cheek that can have a prominence in some patients.  This can be partially removed with a simple procedure with an incision in the mouth.  the jowl area if this is considered the lower cheek is amenable to a minor amount of liposuction, but should probably be combined with fat grafting to the jawline just in front of the jowl to help the jawline contour.  As other surgeons have pointed out the face does narrow or hollow out in the cheeks and marionette lines.  These may also need volume with fat grafting, sculptra, or other fillers.

Scott Haupt, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon

Effects of facial liposculpture

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  It is difficult to say if this procedure would be right for you without seeing photos but I think it likely would not give you the results you are seeking.  Also, I agree with another physician who responded that the tightening effects that you are seeking are variable.  Yes, it does happen but not in every casae and possibly not to the extent that you are seeking.

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 140 reviews

Facial Sculpting and Liposuction

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Liposuction in the cheeks is by no means a standard procedure as it has been in the past.  I sometimes combine liposuction with facelifts for gentle contouring.  There are other ways to change the width of your face and a consultation in your case is really crucial to understanding your face and making recommendations.  I would definitely explore other options before settling with facial liposuction as a stand alone procedure.  Good luck!

Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Caution in performing facial liposuciton

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Generally speaking excess fat is not a hallmark of aging, rather the loss and absence of fat is more typical of aging. Therefore we tend to prefer to reposition or add fat to the aging face. The short term and long term effects relate to the agressiveness of the treatment. But other than conservative liposuction of the jowls as an adjunct to a face lift, very little fat is removed. Commonly we add more fat. 

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

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.