Cheek lift

By Mayo Clinic Staff

(Synonyms: mid-facelift)

As we age, gravity pulls down on the cheek, flattening it. At the same time, the lower eyelid may droop, creating a sad or tired appearance.

A cheek lift or mid-facelift restores fullness to the cheek, softens deep lines extending from the corner of the nose to the corner of the mouth (nasolabial folds) and raises the outer portion of the eyebrow, creating a more rested and youthful appearance. The cheek lift may be done as a single procedure or with other facial surgeries.

What to expect

Under general anesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision above each ear beyond the hairline and in the gum line above each upper canine tooth. A stitch is placed inside each oral incision to catch the cheek pad. The stitch is then secured under the scalp.

A mid-facelift can dramatically change your appearance. Initially, the cheek pad is overcorrected, creating an unnatural smile. With time, the cheek settles into a more natural position. Dimpling may appear in each cheek and diminish over time. Most patients have temporary difficulty puckering their upper lips, making it difficult to drink from a cup or through a straw. Swelling and bruising around the eyes may occur, but can be decreased by elevating the head and using cold compresses on the eyes for three days. Most patients experience some aching in their cheeks, which can last for several months.


The risks associated with a cheek lift may include, but are not limited to:

  • Problems related to anesthesia
  • Blood clot in leg (deep vein thrombosis) or lung (pulmonary embolism)
  • Hematoma (blood under the skin) or seroma (fluid under the skin), which can cause scarring, skin discoloration or an irregular surface
  • Infection
  • Hair loss along the incision
  • Healing problems
  • Facial numbness
  • Partial loss of facial expression
  • Facial weakness or paralysis; usually temporary; rarely permanent

The healing process requires patience. Although patients may feel able to return to regular activity within several weeks, healing can take as long as four months.

This procedure is performed by specialists in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Otorhinolarnygology).

Key Facts

Anesthesia: General anesthesia

Inpatient/outpatient: Same day or overnight in hospital

Length of procedure: 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Anticipate: Dimpling in each cheek and bruising around eyes (for at least three weeks); flattened upper lip

Discomfort: Moderate with prescription pain medications

Final result: 2 to 4 months

Duration of results: Typically 5 to 7 years

Nov. 30, 2016