The Ultimate Guide to Cheek Filler

A board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist with a deep understanding of facial anatomy will be able to properly evaluate the full facial canvas to determine whether a drop of filler could help to bring balance to this gray area.

OK, so what are some things cheek filler can’t address?

As with all temporary solutions, cheek filler is not a replacement for surgery. Dr. Liotta finds herself managing patient expectations every day, explaining that it’s not a “solve-all” for facial sagging. 

“Filler can get rid of shadows and bring up highlights around the eye, but a syringe of filler is a fifth of a teaspoon, and the amount a patient pulls up on their cheek to show me their goals for cheek filler is probably 15 syringes of filler,” she says. “If you’re [physically] pulling your cheeks up in the mirror, you’re in facelift territory, not filler.”

What does the procedure involve?

According to Pittsburgh-based board-certified dermatologist, Nicole Vélez, M.D., you’ll want to follow the same bruise-reducing protocols you would if you were getting filler in other common areas — that is, lay off NSAIDs for seven days before getting filler, skip the gym for 48 hours after your procedure, and pop an Arnica or Bromelain vitamin supplement before and after the appointment. She also asks patients to arrive on the early side if they’d like numbing cream to reduce any pain from injection pricks.

“It’s also important that you schedule your appointment during a time when you’re OK with the fact that you may have a bruise,” she cautions. “For example, you don’t want to schedule it the day before a wedding or an important work meeting.”

During the procedure, the injector places the filler “all the way down to the bone,” says Dr. Liotta, in order to make it “really look super natural” while simultaneously avoiding any filler migration issues. “The more superficially the filler gets placed, the more it can end up with that kind of weird, doughy look that we associate with too full of a face,” she explains.

Aftercare is minimal, although bruising and swelling are common but will subside within the week, says Dr. Vélez. “I tell patients to try not to lay on your face that night, but it’s hard to control how you sleep at night, so if you end up waking up and you’re on your face, it’s not the end of the world.”

How long will cheek filler last?

Most hyaluronic acid fillers last anywhere from nine to 12 months, but Dr. Liotta attests to Juvéderm Voluma’s longer-lasting formula, clocking in around a year and a half, she estimates. “There are a lot of genetic variables that do impact filler longevity and there’s nothing that they can really do, it’s their body chemistry,” explains Dr. Solish. “But, of course, smokers, heavy drinkers, people that don’t eat [nutritiously], that sort of thing, tend to burn it away a lot.”