Chins play a key role in determining the aesthetics of the face. However, when people visit a surgeon, they mostly talk about their wrinkles, sagging skin, jowls, noses, ears and brows. They often fail to appreciate how important their chins play in creating facial harmony and balance. A well-defined and proportionate chin is an asset on anyone’s face.
Sometimes, the surgeon may tell those seeking a rhinoplasty that chin surgery is recommended at the same time. Whether reducing it or augmenting it, changing the chin goes a long way towards enhancing the profile. Overall facial balance is as important as a nicely proportioned nose.
The aim of chin surgery or mentoplasty is to improve balance and facial harmony by changing either the size or shape of the chin. A chin reduction removes part of the bone around the chin to provide a more chiselled and balanced look. Chin augmentation uses an implant to help create a stronger chin, making your profile more pleasing to the eye.
This article should provide you with the basic information you need before deciding to undergo chin surgery. It will help you understand both types of mentoplasty, how they are performed and what you can realistically expect as outcomes. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to chin surgery; nor should it be considered an alternative to a thorough and detailed discussion with your chosen facial plastic surgeon.
Successful outcomes in chin surgery, as with all plastic surgery, are a result of teamwork and rapport between you and your facial plastic surgeon. Only your surgeon can answer questions about what specific changes to your chin may help improve your facial harmony and profile.
Is Chin Surgery for You?
It is essential to have realistic expectations when you decide to undergo chin surgery.
Chin surgery can be undertaken for both aesthetic and functional reasons. The specific recommendations given by your surgeon depend on your expectations from the surgery and what your surgeon believes is the best method to improve your facial harmony and meet those expectations.
If any of these conditions apply to you, you could benefit from chin surgery:
- If your chin is relatively large in proportion to your face or juts out prominently, you might benefit from chin reduction surgery.
- If you have a weak chin or a chin that is small in proportion to the rest of your face, your looks could be improved with an implant.
- If you want to improve your profile and feel you need to change your nose and/or chin to do so, you should ask your surgeon to assess your suitability for either chin or nose surgery, or for both at the same time.
- Those born with an asymmetrical or deformed upper or lower jawbone may require surgery to improve jaw function. Sometimes surgery on the lower jaw can be combined with chin surgery if it improves the profile and overall facial balance.
Surgeons often recommend chin surgery when a patient’s initial visit was about nose surgery. In other instances, after inspecting a person’s jaw and facial structure for chin or nose surgery, the surgeon may discover that the patient can benefit from orthognathic or jaw surgery as well.
As with all elective surgery, you must be in good health at the time of surgery.
Before You Have Chin Surgery
Choosing a facial plastic surgeon you can trust is one of the most important decisions to make before any surgery. Your trust should be based on the verifiable qualifications and expertise of the surgeon, his or her reputation and past experience with this type of surgery. The rapport you develop with your surgeon during the initial consultation process is also very important.
When you decide to undergo cosmetic surgery, it is necessary to make a commitment to follow the pre- and post-operative instructions issued by your surgeon.
Whether you require a chin reduction, augmentation or one of these combined with other procedures, your surgeon will discuss all the surgical options with you during this initial consultation, addressing the risks involved with each type of procedure. This discussion should be an open and honest exchange of ideas between you and your surgeon, which will help establish reasonable expectations for the outcomes of surgery.
When you have made the decision to go ahead, and you and your surgeon have agreed on the best course of treatment, your surgeon will explain the type of anaesthesia that may be employed and provide details of the surgical facility where your procedure will take place.
You will be asked to provide a thorough medical history to allow your surgeon to take into account any medical conditions that could increase your level of risk during surgery.
As part of the informed consent process, your facial plastic surgeon will also explain to you alternative procedures that are available for you and inform you of the costs involved for the procedures you have chosen.
Sometimes chin surgery is combined with liposuction to remove excess fat and redefine the chin or neckline. Chin procedures may also be combined with non-surgical treatments such as dermal fillers to enhance the outcomes of chin surgery.
Understanding the Surgery
Chin augmentation surgery places an artificial implant underneath your skin to provide additional volume and make your chin appear stronger.
The implants are made of synthetic materials and come in various shapes and sizes. They can be further moulded to get the exact shape you want. Silicone chin implants contain solid silicone of a much harder consistency than those typically used in breast implants. Those made with GoreTex are much harder and have a porous structure, which allows your normal tissue to grow into the implant. Chin implants are meant to last a lifetime, and because of their solid consistency, once in place they rarely break down or move.
The incisions for placing the chin implant can be either under the chin or inside the mouth where the gum and the lower lip meet. The surgeon will create a pocket into which the chin implant will be placed and will close the incision with fine sutures. The under-the-chin incision scar is hard to spot, and if the incision is inside the mouth, there will be no visible scar.
For chin reduction surgery, incisions are also made either inside the mouth or underneath the chin. Your surgeon will scrape away and sculpt your chin bone to achieve a more pleasing shape and profile. Jaw surgery incisions are usually made inside the mouth.
Chin surgery can take between one to three hours to perform, depending on exactly what is required and what other procedures are combined with it. Types of anaesthesia that may be used on your chin surgery will also depend on the specific procedures involved.
What to Expect After Surgery
The dressing your surgeon applies immediately after surgery will remain in place for up to three days. It is natural to experience tenderness in the chin area after surgery. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to relieve any discomfort.
Your surgeon will provide you with instructions on how to take care of yourself during the recovery period. To get the best results from your surgery, it is important to follow these instructions closely.
Your ability to chew will be limited for a few days. During this period you will be asked to stick to soft foods and liquids. You are likely to feel that your chin area is stretched, especially after chin augmentation, because of the additional volume of the implant. This sensation should subside within a week.
You may have swelling in the chin or face, which may last up to six weeks. After it has disappeared, you will be able to enjoy your new and enhanced chin.
Most people can resume normal activities in about ten days after surgery. You should avoid rigorous activity for at least a few weeks.
Chin surgery can help improve the balance and harmony of your face and enhance your profile.
In general, insurance does not reimburse costs of elective cosmetic surgery. But if your chin surgery is performed as part of a procedure to correct birth deformities of the jaw and face, or as part of treatment for traumatic injury, some of the cost may be covered by insurance.
Just to be sure, always check with your insurance plan on the specifics of coverage.
You can find accredited facial plastic surgeons who perform chin surgery among members of the Australasian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery.