Can I get cheekbone implants?

Dear Cecil:

Let's see if you can deliver as promised. I'm obsessed with the idea of having interesting cheekbones and I'm wondering if cheekbones can be implanted, like a prosthesis for a weak chin. If so, what doctor should I see about this?

Cecil replies:

Funny you should mention this, but some years ago an edition of the distinguished medical journal Self, available at finer grocery counters everywhere, discussed just such a procedure. It’s part of something called “interface” surgery, which permits, and I quote, “the creation of an idealized version of the face you were born with. … A too-wide jaw can be narrowed; a long face shortened or a short one lengthened; cheekbones can be built up; a jutting chin can be trimmed back, a weak one given more projection; eyes that droop downward can be tilted up …” — you get the picture.

Interface surgery is basically a combination of cosmetic surgery, which deals with soft tissue like skin, and reconstructive surgery, in which bones are reshaped or rebuilt. Reconstructive surgery used to be limited to car-wreck victims and the like, but modern techniques, along with the desperate need of doctors for enough money to support their Maserati habits, have put it in reach of garden-variety uglies such as you and me. The most radical forms of interface surgery involve grafting bone from the skull, hip, or rib, but usually things don’t get that drastic. Cheekbone implants, for instance, can be inserted through an incision in the mouth so the scars don’t show.

Seeing as you’re in Dallas, you might try calling one of the superstars of the plastic-surgery biz, Dr. Fernando Ortiz-Monasterio, a professor of plastic surgery on the Faculty of Medicine at the National University of Mexico City. If that’s out, you can get referrals from the following: the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 444 E. Algonquin Rd. Arlington Heights, IL 60005, http://www.plasticsurgery.org/; the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 310 S. Henry Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, http://www.aafprs.org/; or the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 9700 West Bryn Mawr Ave, Rosemont, Illinois 60018-5701, http://www.aaoms.org/.

One word of warning — a full-scale job of cheek rebuilding could cost you five grand. You might want to think about cheaper alternatives: a little rouge, a darkened room, and a couple double Scotches for your date. My sister told me it always worked wonders for her.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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