When is it the right time to consider a chin implant?
When patients present for a chin implant, it is important to be certain that their facial growth is complete and that the upper and lower teeth are in normal positions relative to one another and relative to other facial bones.
If the perceived small chin is due to abnormalities in the relationship of the upper teeth to the lower teeth or the relationship between the teeth to other facial bones, this condition must be addressed prior to considering any type of implant or genioplasty.
In these situations, it is best for patients to be evaluated by maxillofacial surgeons who can assess the patients using special measurements called cephalometric studies. These measure the relationship of the jaw to the rest of the face and help determine the best course of action.
What does a Chin Implant accomplish?
It provides increased projection of the chin and jaw line in order to improve the individual’s profile.
In general, a chin implant provides increased projection but cannot provide increased length to the chin or jaw line in cases where there is a vertical deficiency. A procedure called sliding genioplasty is considered in these cases.
There are several shapes and styles of chin implants depending upon the individual’s needs.
Patients can enhance the profile of the chin, widen the chin, or produce a different contour altogether.
How is a Chin Implant procedure performed?
Most surgeons place the implant through a small incision (approximately ¾ of an inch) made directly behind the crease under the chin. Although some will use an incision inside the mouth, the incidence of infection is slightly higher in these circumstances; as such the external incision is usually favored.
Through the external incision, a pocket is made directly over the center of the jaw bone and the implant is placed in the pocket.
The incision is then closed in layers with stitches that are buried under the skin. Usually surgical tape is placed over the incision to protect it during the healing phase.
Some surgeons will further immobilize the implant during the initial healing phase with the use of taping.
Are there alternatives to chin implant surgery?
For individuals who wish to avoid a chin implant, a sliding genioplasty is a possibility.
A sliding genioplasty involves cutting the central and lower part of the jaw bone and sliding it forward and, if needed, downward.
For individuals who have a small chin that is deficient in projection and length, a chin implant is not an ideal solution as it will only provide increased projection.
Although a sliding genioplasty can be used simply to advance the chin forward, in cases where there is a need to increase both projection and length, a sliding genioplasty is generally a more appropriate solution than placement of a chin implant.
The recovery time following a sliding genioplasty is longer than with a chin implant procedure but the goals are different.
The sliding genioplasty procedure avoids the potential for future changes associated with an implant, such as shifting, exposure or infection.
The sliding genioplasty also allows the advancement of the muscles attached to the anterior aspect of the chin. This can impact not only the facial profile but in some cases can also improve the neck contour.
How long will the Chin Implant last?
Although a chin implant is placed with the expectation that it will last a lifetime, it may not.
The implant may shift, become infected, or become exposed.
If it shifts, it can create an asymmetry or impinge on facial nerves or the roots of the teeth.
In all of the above circumstances, the implant must be removed and/or replaced.