There are not enough cheek implant reviews on here or in general available on the internet, and a lot of misinformation about them. I intend to make this as detailed as my time and patience will allow, and I am more than happy to help anyone with ANY questions or clarification you may need.
Despite having good malar prominence (lateral cheeks), I have had noticeably flat anterior cheek bones (submalar) along with hollowish tear troughs since I lost my initial baby-fat in childhood, which did not significantly change with any weight fluctuations. I also have a slightly recessed chin, and both of these issues were amplified by and amplifying to a very projected, "Mediterranean" nose (I am half Jewish and close to half Italian, so that may explain it!). When I underwent Rhinoplasty in 2011 I also had fat injections in my cheeks, and three succeeding injections spaced out months afterwards; and fat all quickly dissipated each time after the initial swelling went down. After the fat transfer I tried filler/restylane, which dissipated in what seemed like weeks. At that time I also had Radiesse injected into my chin but was not satisfied with the result, as I desired projection rather than lengthening and seemed to get the opposite of that. I am still on the fence about getting a chin implant so I decided this time I would have Dr. Niamtu (who is an expert with facial proportions) inject Voluma into my chin to help me make a long-term decision. The Radiesse too dissipated completely before two months was over. So I realized these method were not cost-efficient with how fast I metabolize them. Additionally, since my deficiency is in the bony areas it makes sense to use a bone-imitating material (silicone), rather than a filler which tends to be softer and better compensates for fat atrophy.
Why I chose Dr. Niamtu
See my surgeon review below.
Yesterday my boyfriend/post-op caretaker and I went to meet Dr. Niamtu and Brooke (the surgical RN) to go over the details of surgery, take before pictures, and confirm what will be done. As he was at the consultation and in follow-ups, Dr. Niamtu was very thorough and patient. Brooke, the other nurses, and all of the patient coordinators (I have mostly spoken with Rachel) mirrored the same kindness as him. I cannot speak well enough of this surgeon and his staff!
Day 1- Today
*Dr. Niamtu had an observing medical resident during my procedure. I thought it was neat that I was able to be a part of someone's learning!
*Fasting- (no food or any liquids, including water) after midnight on was brutal. I made sure not to overeat last night and should have eaten and drunk more water before I went to sleep. I was so thirsty and starving in the morning. I recommend to everyone the day before general anesthesia try to eat a hearty, late-ish dinner and keep very well hydrated up until bedtime, limiting caffeine and salt.
*Schedule of events- I arrived at the office for my 8:45 appointment and left around 11:45. Another very sweet nurse (I forgot her name) did two quick x-rays around my head. Dr. Niamtu and Brooke met with me again to review everything. Then I met with the anesthesiologist, who was just as awesome as the surgeon! Every other anesthesiologist I've had to meet with has been notably unfriendly. I changed my clothes (swap all shirts/bra on top and replace it with hospital gown, as well as any bottoms with metal), and soon proceeded into the operating room to begin anesthesia. When it came to the actual IV, he put some type of numbing stuff on the hand he used which made it hurt much less, so I appreciated that. They put some kind of breathing tube down my throat to make sure I got oxygen during surgery, which did leave some scratchiness in my throat afterwards. I think I went into surgery around 9:45 and began waking up around 10:30, at which point I gradually regained my awareness. I remember saying something to Brooke about how she interrupted my "alternate reality" when she woke me up. lol
*Meds/Pain- Let me first say I have what I think is a low pain tolerance. I'm a baby. So with that said, I had a splitting headache upon waking (probably severe dehydration) and some pain/achiness in my face. I have a job where many of my clients are addicted to pain medications which I find terrifying, so I was very stubborn about taking them. I took two Tylenol about an hour after leaving the surgery center and was still in some dull pain throughout the following few hours, enough to stop me from being able to get much rest. I finally relented and took a Percocet around 5:15 tonight which helped a LOT with the pain. Lesson to be learned: Don't be a martyr. Being in pain is not conducive to recovery. I have a prescription for Vicodin for sleep and am still deciding whether or not to take it before bed.
*Bleeding- Not much bleeding. I had to gave gauze around the incisions (through the upper gums in my mouth) which were bloody for awhile. I changed them twice throughout the day (once after eating vegetarian chili, which may or may not have precipitated it but didn't last long) as there was still some blood, but the bleeding seems to have stopped as of late afternoon.
*Swelling- I am told swelling will be probably at its worst the 2nd or 3rd day after surgery. I do not have any bruising other than on my chin from the filler (which based on past experience will probably go away within the next few days). My swelling isn't nearly as bad as I expected but it's already increased since morning. My boyfriend just said he could tell my face is more swollen and that my face is "cute" because I look like a chipmunk or how I would if I gained 100 pounds. lol
*Eating/Drinking- At first my upper lip (both above and below the vermilion border) was almost entirely numb, along with the bottom part of my nose. I have to sip drinks, either from a bottle or a cup without major slurping. As I type now (8pm exactly) my upper lip is nearly entirely un-numbed. However, I have a sore jaw still and cannot open it very wide at all so my diet is going to be limited until that improves more. So far today I have very slowly eaten: vegetarian chili and vegetarian refried beans (with nutritional yeast added for flavor and extra macro- and micronutrients I'm probably missing the next few days), tomato soup (which I sipped like a drink), coconut milk yogurt, and my boyfriend just bought us both coconut milk strawberry ice cream to share after melting it in the microwave. Yum! So basically I can only eat things that I can get in my mouth a little bit at a time with a spoon pointing down, or by sipping. I am hoping to get some fruits and vegetables in my system tomorrow if I'm up to it. I bought a lot of leafy greens, roma tomatoes, low-fat salad dressing, blueberries, and some apple sauce! I am aiming on the side of higher protein during healing time.
*Teeth brushing- I bought a manual super-soft baby toothbrush. I have to be careful for awhile in lifting my upper lip to brush my teeth to avoid aggravating the incision sites. It's also just hard to raise my top lip in general right now.
*Comfort/Mobility accommodations- I was told to avoid any movements or lifting which will increase blood pressure. I am avoiding bending down as much as possible. I am a regular squatter so I'm squatting down instead when I do get something from below my waist, while keeping my head up and back straight. My boyfriend will be helping me to clean our cats' litter boxes and feeding them when I get home. I am using an awesome adjustable inflating neck pillow propped up by two pillows (this one: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0154GG7OC?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00) to help keep my head up and not lean to the side on my cheeks upon sleeping and keeping a pillow under each arm. I also have two facial ice packs which I've only used a little so far. They can be heated too for later on in surgery, but unfortunately are a little big for my face (probably best for men's faces). Still useful and recommended. (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B015JCW6WI?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00)
*Exercise- I was told I can resume light cardio exercise in 10 days and heavy weightlifting in 4 weeks. This is my least favorite part of the surgery (exercise does a lot for my overall happiness and well-being) but realize it's temporary and necessary, and I look forward to spending more time doing sedentary activities I enjoy in the meantime.
*Chin- Other than slight asymmetry at the bottom (which is clearing up and almost certainly initial swelling from the injections) I LOVE my chin. Dr. Niamtu put a few drops in the mentolabial fold and the lower part. It's such a perfectly subtle difference my boyfriend can't even tell and Dr. Niamtu put exactly as much in as I wanted. I'm hoping it doesn't go down too much from here. I will be seriously thinking about a future chin implant at this point if the same look is possible, and am somewhat regretting not doing it simultaneously with the cheek implants.
I am uploading before pictures along with a few I took today (sorry for poor photo quality-- hotel room is not well-lit). Will do another update when I get a chance!