Karan Chopra™ M.D.

How to get rid of
Sunken Cheeks –
Causes and Treatments


Plump healthy cheeks and good midface volume are associated with a more youthful look. With age, the skin around the cheekbones becomes thinner and fat volume decreases, making you look older and tired. Fortunately, you can treat sunken cheeks and achieve a more attractive face and younger appearance.
Dr. Karan Chopra is a Minnesota plastic surgeon and face expert who regularly performs facial surgery, facial fat transfer and dermal filler procedures to treat sunken cheeks.

What Are Sunken Cheeks?

When the tissue between the cheeks’ bony arch under the eyes and the lower jawbone is thin or low volume, that is an indication of sunken cheeks. Usually, age is the primary cause of sunken cheeks, affecting both men and women.

Causes of Sunken Cheeks

Besides age, other factors can cause mid face fat loss and skin sagging include:

  • Personal habits: smoking, extreme exercise, and lack of sleep all contribute to sunken cheeks.
  • Illness: several illnesses, including anorexia and tuberculosis, can result in facial fat loss. In addition, vascular EDS and lipoatrophy also cause sunken cheeks.
  • Environment: harsh weather conditions can affect your skin elasticity. Thus, exposing your skin to harsh conditions like excess sun or cold can lead to sunken cheeks.
  • Diet: dehydration and malnutrition can lead to fat loss, including around the face.

How to Prevent Sunken Cheeks

Age is a primary cause of sunken cheeks. Nevertheless, you can slow down the development of sunken cheeks by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example, you can prevent sunken cheeks by eating healthy and nutritious food and avoiding smoking and the use of any nicotine products like vapes. In addition, it is best to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and limit exposure to harsh weather conditions. Your face is a key indicator of your past lifestyle.

Sunken Cheeks Treatment

There are surgical, non-surgical, and at-home options for treating sunken cheeks. Surgical treatment for hollow cheeks provides the most natural looking and long-lasting results of all these methods.

1. Cosmetic Surgery for sunken cheeks

A facelift or Facial Fat grafting are the usual treatments for sunken cheeks. This procedure may help you achieve fuller cheeks. A fat grafting procedure requires your surgeon to collect fat from fatty areas in the body, including the stomach and thighs, through a liposuction procedure.

After collecting the fat, it is processed through centrifugation into micro fat suitable for facial injections. A fat transfer procedure helps to rejuvenate the skin and restore a youthful look.

Fortunately, fat grafting is a same-day procedure. Therefore, you don’t need to stay overnight in the hospital. In addition, the procedure is usually quick and performed under local anesthetic. So, you don’t need to worry about extreme discomfort.

2. Non-Surgical Treatments for Sunken Cheeks – Injectables & Fillers

Surgeons can use dermal fillers to treat sunken cheeks. These fillers are gel-based and are injected into the cheeks to add volume and definition. The primary ingredient in many dermal fillers is hyaluronic acid, and it combats the hollow cheeks to give a fuller look. Other materials in dermal fillers can include calcium hydroxylapatite, polymethylmethacrylate, and poly-L-lactic acid to provide a range of treatment options.

Getting dermal fillers is a quick procedure, and you don’t need general anesthesia. Furthermore, the treatment avoids leaving a scar, and you can return to your daily routine almost immediately.

3. At-Home Treatments for Sunken Cheeks – What you can try at home

Stress and lack of sleep contribute to loss of cheek volume. At-home remedies for sunken cheeks aim at helping you gain weight and protecting your skin from harsh weather conditions. However, it is essential to note that at-home treatment for sunken cheeks do not achieve quick results compared to dermal fillers, facelift surgery and facial fat grafting.


  • Eating nutrient-rich foods: fatty fish, milk, seed, and nuts are calorie-rich foods that can help you gain a healthy weight and keep your face healthy and plump.
  • Applying topical products: honey and natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter can protect your skin from harsh conditions. They also lock in moisture to give you a more youthful look. However, it is essential to patch-test these products on your skin to be sure they don’t cause reactions like acne.
  • Using face masks: face masks containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, lanolin, and glycerin can help slow down aging by moisturizing your skin. You can also create your face masks from ingredients like oatmeal, banana, avocado, and milk.


Both face fat grafting, and dermal fillers rejuvenate hollow cheeks. But what are their differences?

  • Material: dermal fillers are gel based, and some are made from hyaluronic acid. Face fat, on the other hand, is from body fat. Because of the fat cells, there is less risk of your body rejecting the graft. If you prefer a natural product and don’t want a foreign substance in your body, you may consider facial fat grafting.
  • Procedure: the filler procedure requires you to get an injection. The results are immediate, and you can resume physical activity almost immediately. On the other hand, the facial fat graft procedure involves liposuction and treated fat re-injection. In addition, the results are not immediate because the fat takes some time to settle and thrive. Furthermore, you may not resume activities immediately to allow your liposuction site to heal.
  • Results: you may need fillers every 12 to 18 months, depending on the type of filler. Face fat graft can last up to 10 years.

What Is The Best Sunken Cheek Treatment?

A facelift surgery or facial fat graft surgery is the best of all the treatment methods discussed above. This method achieves the best and most long-lasting results. Furthermore, there is a reduced risk of allergies since the procedure uses natural fat.

The results of a face graft surgery may last longer than ten years. Usually, the fat tissue integrates with the cheekbone after a few months, functioning like the body’s soft tissues.

What Are The Benefits Of A Facial Fat Transfer Procedure?

Besides achieving longer-lasting and most natural results, face fat transfer also has other benefits. Some of the benefits of this procedure include the following;

Reduced risk of allergic reactions due to the use of natural tissue
The procedure is minimally invasive
Giving your face a youthful and voluminous appearance
Restoring sunken cheeks
Reducing facial lines and wrinkles
The procedure is not time-consuming
Relatively Quick recovery (compared to a facelift)

What Are The Risks Of Facial Fat Transfer?

Generally, the risks of facial fat transfer are rare. The procedure is considered safe, especially when done by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Chopra. The small risks that may be involved with a facial graft procedure include possible infection, fat necrosis, poor aesthetic results, or anesthesia complications.
Before a facial fat graft, it is best to discuss the procedure’s possible risks and side effects with your surgeon. Furthermore, follow the pre- and post-care instructions for faster and better recovery.

Who Qualifies For A Facial Fat Transfer?

Before getting a facial fat transfer, you must discuss it with Dr. Chopra to see if you qualify for the procedure. Generally, the best candidates for a face graft procedure are non-smokers, have an ideal weight, and are generally healthy. Furthermore, you are not on blood thinners or in the active stages of acne (or taking roaccutaine).

About Facial Fat Grafting Procedure

A face fat transfer procedure is a one-day surgery. You get to go home after the procedure. In addition, the procedure is carried out under local anesthesia. So, you will be awake during the procedure.
A facial fat grafting procedure occurs in three stages:

Liposuction: Chopra will inject saline and local anesthetic in the region where he is harvesting the fat. Thus, the area is numbed, and the fat loosens for easier harvesting. Afterward, the surgeon sucks fat cells from under the skin using a liposuction catheter. Because liposuction is done through tiny small incisions, they heal well without leaving noticeable, permanent scars.
Fat purification: your surgeon will purify the harvested fat. This separates the fat from water, debris, and blood. Fat cleansing helps your surgeon get pure microfat cells to give your hollow cheeks a better volume.
Face injections: after purifying the fat, Dr. Chopra will inject it around your sunken cheeks using a needle.

Facial Fat Grafting Results

After getting a face fat graft may take a while for the results to show. This is because your body will reabsorb fluids in the fat, shrinking the graft. Usually, your surgeon may overfill the initial graft or recommend getting an extra facial graft till you get the exact volume you need for your sunken cheeks. As a bonus, the fat graft typically improves your skin quality near the graft.

Facial Fat Graft Procedure Recovery

Because the procedure is one day, recovery around your face is not difficult. But you will need to take extra care to recover from the liposuction. You may notice some discomfort in the liposuction areas, but they should subside over 3 to 4 weeks.

During recovery, avoid forcefully rubbing your face or pressing the treated areas. This can ruin the results of the facial graft. Eat well to help the fat cells to survive and thrive.

How Long Does It Take For Facial Fat Grafting To Settle?

After getting a facial fat transfer, you must allow your body to heal properly. Although you will start seeing results immediately after your surgery, it takes about 3 to 6 months for the final results.

What makes your Cheeks more attractive?

Not all causes of sunken cheeks are negative. Some people even consider sunken cheeks attractive. Therefore, they aim to have high cheekbones and narrow chins, popularly seen in models and celebrities. Here are some ways you can get sunken cheeks:

Diet and exercise: losing body weight can slim your face and change its appearance. A healthy diet and frequent exercise can help you lose weight in your face. Thus, you get to have a more hollowed cheek.

Facial exercises target the face muscles and change the shape of your cheeks. You can try out facial exercises or face yoga at home to create a slimmer face.

Face contour: makeup can help highlight your cheekbones and create a sunken look. It is important to note that face contouring with makeup only achieves temporary results.

FAQs about Sunken Cheeks and Surgical Procedures

What happens to the cheeks as we age?

Your body produces collagen, a protein that improves skin elasticity. However, with age, collagen levels deplete, resulting in sagging skin. Furthermore, age causes fat loss beneath the skin surface while the bone structure can also deteriorate. Thus, as you age, you develop sunken cheeks.

Can stress cause fat loss in the face?

Stress can make you lose facial fat. When the stress hormone is released, it changes the skin proteins, resulting in a loss of elasticity. Therefore, exposing yourself to high levels of stress for an extended period can result in you losing fat on your face and looking gaunt.

Why are facial fat injections popular?

Facial fat injections improve your facial appearance and self-esteem. Moreover, because the injections require fat, there is only a tiny risk of allergic reactions to the procedure. In addition, the results are natural and usually last longer than dermal fillers.

Are dermal fillers safe?

Dermal fillers are considered a safe procedure, especially when performed by an experienced plastic surgeon like Dr. Chopra.

At what age does your face change the most?

Aging changes your face. While there is no specific time frame for changes in physical appearance, everyone experiences it. Some people notice a change in their facial appearance in their 30s. For others, this change is noticeable in their 40s and 50s

What are the dangers of dermal fillers?

Even if they are cheap, avoid buying dermal fillers on the internet or outside a medical setting. Only a qualified medical practitioner like a surgeon should administer a filler. Injecting yourself can cause side effects like swelling, blood clots, and skin cell death.

What age should you get dermal fillers?

The body starts losing collagen around the mid-20s. Therefore, getting dermal fillers around this period can help combat the signs of aging. Furthermore, starting dermal fillers in your mid-20s reduces the amount of products you have to use compared if you are getting dermal fillers in your 50s

How often should you have dermal fillers?

There are different dermal filler materials, and this determines how often you have to get touch-ups. On average, you may need to get touch-up treatments every 3 to 12 months.

Further Reading about Facial Plastic
Surgery Procedures

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