Want to look younger? Plump up your cheeks.

Want to look younger? Plump up your cheeks.
Want to look younger? Plump up your cheeks.

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered, “What is the one thing I could change about my face that would send me back to the glory days of my early 20s? Or 30s? Or even 40s?”
A facelift used to be the answer. But, now, according to The New York Times, plastic surgeons “are turning their attention away from smoothing out wrinkles to increasing volume.”
The old way was to fill facial lines. The new way is to “plump” the midface. The theory is that round, plump cheeks are a sign of youth and saggy, sunken cheeks are markers of age.

To test this theory, I did a random sample subway test - I looked at the folks sitting opposite me. Results:

  • At 5:30 PM they all looked tired.
  • The ones with plump cheeks were among the youngest, but not the best looking.
  • The most beautiful person was about six years old and his cheeks were as plump as a Fuji apple.

If your mother always told you that you could get away with anything if you have high cheekbones, I’ve got bad news for you. Here is what happens when you age:

Aging 101

  • Young faces have a “triangle of youth” – widest part of the triangle is at the cheeks.
  • As we age, cheeks deflate and excess skin falls down to the jawline, i.e., jowl line. The triangle flips, so the widest part of the face is now at the jaws.
  • Skeletal structure thins, cheekbones recede and get smaller and collagen production slows.

Plump cheeks are in the news because the FDA has approved Voluma, the first and only hyaluronic acid (HA) filler in the United States to correct age-related volume loss in the cheeks.
Voluma is said to come with a bonus. While you add volume to the cheeks, you also soften and lift the folds in the mouth area.

If you’re a skeptic like me, you may wonder what makes Voluma different from the other HA injectable fillers, such as Restylane and Juvederm. I spoke with Dr. Julius Few, Chicago, IL, board-certified plastic surgeon and Clinical Associate, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, one of the clinical site investigators in the Voluma study that led to its FDA approval.

According to Few, this is what is special about Voluma:

  • It is specifically formulated to restore volume deficits in the cheeks.
  • It is well-tolerated, has a powerful lifting capability and lasts for a long time - up to two years.
  • Furthermore, if you wind up looking too cheeky, there is another injectable, hyaluronidase, that will take you back down to size.

I asked Dr. Few, who made a presentation on Voluma during the Hot Topics webinar hosted by the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF), how he avoids giving patients the dreaded “doughy” look. According to Few, “Ideal injection of fillers is art and science beautifully joined, the reason I like fillers so much! Voluma is designed to be injected deep, not into the skin or thin areas. Proper injection of Voluma, taking care to avoid over filling, yields very natural results without the doughy, bloated look that can happen with fillers not formulated specifically for the cheeks.”

People with very thin skin, severe sun and/or smoking related skin damage will not get the best results. Plumping success depends on the quality of your skin, not your age!

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