Medically Reviewed April 2023, by Dr. Ayad Harb, one of the world's leading plastic surgeons
The face is a canvas of emotions, expressions, and stories, a primary aspect that people use to perceive and remember one another. One of the most captivating features that contribute significantly to facial aesthetics is the cheeks. When sculpted and balanced, they can instill an aura of youthful vitality and elegance. However, when there's an imbalance, whether in terms of volume or symmetry, it becomes an area of concern for many.
Cheek volume is about the fullness, or lack thereof, of the cheeks. Healthy cheeks naturally possess a gentle curve, which gives a face its youthful and energetic appearance. Yet, as time progresses, several factors come into play that may compromise this natural fullness. Aging, for instance, is a relentless force. With advancing years, our skin begins to lose its treasure trove of collagen and elastin. These proteins, hailed for their property to maintain the skin's suppleness and youthfulness, start depleting. As this occurs, the natural fat pads located in our cheeks diminish. The result? A face that starts to look more gaunt or hollowed with time.
Weight fluctuations, another common factor, also play a role in affecting cheek volume. Gaining or losing weight can cause the facial fat structure to change, leading to a disparity in cheek volume. And of course, there are genetics. Just as we inherit the color of our eyes or the shape of our nose from our lineage, the volume of our cheeks, or the propensity to lose it, can be hereditary.
Asymmetry, on the other side of the spectrum, is about the proportional balance between the two halves of the face. It's a universal truth: no face is perfectly symmetrical. Every face has its quirks and nuances that make it unique. Yet, for some, this asymmetry can be more pronounced. It could manifest in various ways, such as one cheek appearing slightly more robust and fuller than the other, or bone structures like cheekbones being more elevated on one side compared to the other.
The root cause of such asymmetries can be multifaceted. Some people might have been born with them, a characteristic trait that's been with them since birth. For others, life events such as accidents, trauma, or even certain health conditions might have led to a change in the facial structure, causing an imbalance.
Diving deep into the psychology of facial perception, it's intriguing to note how our brains are wired to favour symmetry. Over aeons, our minds have been conditioned to associate symmetry with various positive attributes such as health, vitality, and even suitability as a mate. Such intrinsic associations mean that even subtle imbalances can significantly influence a person's self-esteem and how others perceive them.
However, as we tread this path of understanding cheek volume and asymmetry, it becomes imperative to tread with sensitivity and empathy. Every face, with its symmetries and asymmetries, tells a poignant story. It’s a canvas painted with the brushes of genetics, life experiences, and the inexorable march of time. Thus, the journey of addressing concerns related to cheek volume and asymmetry isn't about chasing an elusive ideal of perfection. Instead, it's about empowering individuals. It's about helping them navigate their aesthetic concerns so that they can look in the mirror and feel a renewed sense of confidence and contentment in their unique beauty.
A fleeting phase, mild volume loss is like the gentle ebbing of a tide. It's at the point where the loss is just beginning to be perceptible. There might be a slight softening of the face's contours, a gradual flattening of the cheeks, hinting at the changes to come. It’s subtle, perhaps seen more in photographs than felt in person.
This stage is more noticeable. Think of it as the receding shoreline as the tide pulls further back. The cheeks start to lose their former fullness. The hollows become more defined, particularly beneath the eyes and around the upper cheeks. This reduction in fullness can often lend the face a slightly weary appearance, even if the individual feels youthful and vibrant.
At this juncture, the face undergoes a significant transformation. Much like a shore left bereft by the receding tide, cheeks appear deeply hollowed out, with the face acquiring a skeletal or gaunt look. The loss is not just in terms of volume, but also in terms of the skin's elasticity and plumpness. The face might appear aged, with the cheeks no longer providing that youthful support and contour.
Facial asymmetry, though natural and common, presents itself in myriad forms. These can be broadly categorised based on their origins:
This form of asymmetry is like a birthmark or a hereditary trait, a part of an individual from the very beginning. Present from birth, it stems from genetic factors or conditions experienced in utero. Some babies might be born with one side of the face slightly fuller or with bone structures that are more pronounced on one side. While these asymmetries can be subtle, for the individual, they are a life-long characteristic.
Life, in its unpredictable course, sometimes leaves its marks. Acquired asymmetry is a testament to that. It develops post-birth due to various external events or factors. This could range from trauma, such as accidents that impact facial structures, to surgeries that lead to changes in the face's contour. Health conditions, too, can play a part. For instance, conditions like Bell's Palsy, which affects facial nerves, can lead to asymmetry. Essentially, this form of asymmetry is not inherent but a result of life's experiences and challenges.
In the intricate tapestry of aesthetic medicine, dermal fillers emerge as a pioneering tool, bridging the gap between natural ageing and the desire for a rejuvenated visage. Their transformative potential offers hope and empowerment to individuals seeking to restore or enhance the natural contours of their face, particularly in the realm of cheek volume and symmetry.
Dermal fillers are gel-like substances that are meticulously introduced beneath the skin. Their primary role is to replace lost volume, smooth wrinkles, and in the context of cheeks, enhance or restore their natural fullness. Composed mainly of hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally found in the skin, joints, and connective tissues, dermal fillers seamlessly integrate into the facial structure. This compatibility allows for results that are not just effective but also remarkably natural-looking.
The science behind these fillers is as intriguing as their aesthetic outcomes. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it draws moisture from its surroundings. When introduced as a filler, it binds water, aiding in restoring volume and suppleness to the treated area. The impact is immediate: cheeks regain their youthful fullness, lines are smoothed out, and the entire face exudes a revitalised radiance.
Yet, the journey with dermal fillers is as much an art as it is science. Precision, knowledge of facial anatomy, and an aesthetic vision are pivotal. The goal is not just to add volume but to sculpt, define, and ensure symmetry. A skilled practitioner knows that less is often more. They approach each treatment with the intent of enhancing the individual's inherent beauty, ensuring results that harmonise with the face's unique architecture.
While the effects of dermal fillers are transformative, they are also temporary. Depending on the specific product used and individual factors like metabolism, lifestyle, and skin quality, the results can last anywhere from six months to two years. This temporal nature is, in many ways, a blessing. It allows individuals to adapt to their evolving aesthetic desires and needs. If one is satisfied with the results, maintenance treatments can keep the desired look intact. Conversely, if one's aesthetic preferences change, they have the flexibility to adapt or even revert.
Safety and comfort are paramount in the realm of dermal fillers. Most modern fillers contain a small amount of local anaesthetic, ensuring the procedure is as comfortable as possible. Post-treatment, while some swelling or bruising is expected, these side effects are typically mild and resolve within a few days. Proper aftercare, guided by the practitioner, ensures optimal results and minimises potential complications.
In conclusion, dermal fillers stand as a beacon of modern aesthetic medicine. Their ability to rejuvenate, sculpt, and redefine makes them a sought-after solution for those grappling with concerns related to cheek volume and asymmetry. With the right practitioner and an informed approach, dermal fillers can be the gateway to a renewed sense of confidence and aesthetic contentment.