Cheek Volumization and the Nasolabial Fold

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Background:The impression that cheek filling results in longitudinal shortening (“lift”) of the skin and elevation of the nasolabial crease or nasolabial fold has become common within the facial injection community but remains unsubstantiated.Methods:In this study, 77 patients were evaluated before and after injection of the cheeks with a hyaluronic acid filler using a three-dimensional camera system.Results:A constant pattern of skin expansion away from the center of the injection and perpendicular to the surface of the skin was observed. A subgroup of 37 patients without differences in their preinjection and postinjection facial expression were analyzed by direct comparison and failed to demonstrate lateral traction (or “pull”) on the intervening skin from the cheek injection site to the nasolabial crease. Furthermore, there was no photographic difference in the nasolabial fold or nasolabial crease. The only patients who demonstrated photographic improvement of the medial face were those who had filler placed directly in the transition between the lateral nasolabial fold and cheek (nasojugal crease).Conclusions:Filling the cheek with 3 cc of volume does not create traction forces or move the skin between the site of injection and the nasolabial crease. It is likely that expanding the nasojugal crease is the direct visual cue that leads to perceived improvement in the nasolabial fold.

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