The Costs and Risks of Injecting Cheeks 2020

Even though cheek fillers aren’t as common as, say, lip fillers, chances are you probably know someone who’s gotten the procedure. There’s a lot of information floating around about cheek fillers—whether it’s from your friend’s cousin who thinks taking one semester of Orgo makes her a doctor or that influencer you follow on IG—which can make it way hard to separate fact from fiction. So to help clear the air and get the lowdown on cheek fillers, I reached out to an actual expert, dermatologist Jennifer MacGregor, MD, from Union Square Laser Dermatology, to get all the tea. Ahead, everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cheek fillers—including the price, risk factors, and more.

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What are cheek fillers?

The most common fillers—AKA the ones injected into your lips, cheeks, etc—are temporary hyaluronic acid fillers meant to give a boost to low-volume areas, says Dr. MacGregor. If that’s ringing any bells, that’s because you probably have a serum laying around filled with the same ingredient. According to Dr. MacGregor, it’s found naturally in your body and it has the ability to hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water, making it a perfect substance for fillers—including cheeks.

Who is a good candidate for cheek filler?

TBH, everyone’s different, but most of Dr. MacGregor’s patients come in because their cheeks and/or the sides of their face have lost some volume, causing their entire face to look a little droopy. Cheek fillers do the job of lifting those sunken areas. BTW: Even though you generally lose volume in your face as you get older, this has more to do with genetics than age. So if you were born with perfectly high cheekbones (you know, the kind that could cut someone), you probs wouldn’t be a good candidate for cheek fillers.

How long does cheek filler last?

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This depends on several factors, but most importantly, the type of filler your dermatologist uses and how much of it they inject. Some cheek fillers can last six to 12 months, while others can last years—you’ll want to check in with your doctor to find a filler that fits your price point and lasts a decent amount of time. On that note…

How much does cheek filler cost?

They’re pretty pricey. Depending on where you are in the country and the type of HA filler you get, cheek fillers can cost you anywhere from $600-$1200 per syringe. Some people need several syringes, and others might just need a very subtle treatment. I know, it’s a lot, but don’t cut corners and go to a random spa you found online. It’s not worth it. Cut back on your daily coffee habit instead.

How should you prepare for cheek fillers?

You don’t need to do anything too serious to prepare for cheek fillers. Although your dermatologist will give you specific instructions, generally you’ll need to avoid blood thinners two weeks before your treatment and avoid alcohol two days before, says Dr. MacGregor. Easy enough.

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How do you choose a doctor for cheek fillers?

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Unless you want to make a cameo on Botched, you need to see a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who is trained in the procedure. If your cheek filler is injected too high or too low, your results might look obvious. That means you need to see someone who knows how to strike the perfect balance with cheek fillers, so they look good whether you’re smiling or your face is at rest. Pro tip: Ask your doctor to show you pics of their previous work—it’s a good way to get a sense of their aesthetic since every doc has a favorite formula and technique.

Do cheek fillers hurt?

Most doctors will coat your skin in numbing cream before they start the injection process, so this takes the pain down several notches. Once the filler is injected, you’ll definitely feel some pressure, but there shouldn’t be any intense pain. After you’re done, your doctor should give you some ice to deal with any immediate swelling.

What can I expect after getting cheek filler?

Swelling is completely normal after your procedure, so don’t freak out if your cheeks look “bigger” or more lifted than you intended. Swelling can distort the shape, so give yourself about five days for the volume to settle before you assess your filler. During those five days, you can also expect some minor bruising (which, again, should pass in a few days).

There’s also a very low risk of infection and scarring, but it still can happen—so don’t be afraid to reach out to your dermatologist if you’re experiencing anything out of the ordinary. All the more reason to see a board-certified derm!

Is there anything you shouldn’t do after getting cheek filler?

Sorry, you’re going to need to cancel your pilates class and happy hour plans for up to two days after your procedure. Skip out on any facial massages—so put down your jade roller—and don’t wear tight goggles or masks for three weeks to make sure that your filler truly settles. Oh, and you might need to reschedule your dentist appointment—you want to avoid dental work for three weeks to prevent any potential infections.

Can you get the cheek filler removed?

Yep, with temporary HA fillers, you can get them removed if you’re not into the final look. Your doctor can inject hyaluronidase (say that three times fast), an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid. Dr. MacGregor says that the procedure is usually quick and the results are instant, but it’s very painful.

The Final Word

If you’ve read through all this and you think you’d be a good candidate, save up your money and go check in with a board-certified derm before you go through with your procedure. Remember: Even though injectables are super popular right now, it’s still a medical procedure. You want to make sure you have all the facts before injecting something into your face—you only have one, so might as well treat it well, right?

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