A cosmetic condition of sunk in or hollow cheeks is known as sunken cheeks. It is caused due to loss of skin elasticity and subcutaneous fat in cheeks. It can occur as a natural part of aging. In younger people, it can occur as a symptom of some underlying disorder.
Cheeks are supple, smooth, and plump due to large amounts of collagen in skin. Skin remains firm due to presence of skin protein called elastin. Collagen contributes to skin elasticity and thus helps maintain its smoothness and suppleness. Subcutaneous fat occurring under facial skin helps maintain plumpness and puffiness of the cheeks.
Sunken cheeks are commonly caused by the below listed factors:
- Aging is marked by reduced production of elastin and collagen, loss of subcutaneous fat in cheeks, and minor muscle wasting. The process usually commences in the 30s or 40s when gravity overcomes the malar fat pads occurring in the cheeks and causes them to descend. Subsequently, nasolabial present between lips and nose become more prominent which makes the concavity of the face more noticeable. The above mentioned factors adversely affect the support base of the face, cause the cheeks to sink in, and lead to sunken cheeks.
- Poor diet or starvation can reduce cheeks’ subcutaneous fat and make them hollow
- Increased exercising can result in fat loss in some body areas like the cheeks, thighs, etc. thereby causing sunken cheeks
- Smoking for many years and excessive exposure for long periods to harsh weather or environments can decrease supply of nutrients from blood vessels to the skin. This can result in reduced elasticity of skin and sunken cheeks
- Persistent diseases like cancer, TB, or eating disorders like bulimia, etc. can cause sunken cheeks as a symptom
- Many bouts of dehydration, strict diet, weight loss, and eating inadequate quantities of food can also result in sunken cheeks.
Treatment of sunken cheeks
Listed below are different treatment options for sunken cheeks:
- Smiling can strengthen and tone the facial and cheek muscles. Close the lips and try a wide smile with the corners of the mouth nearly touching the ears. Now, wrinkle the nasal skin and it will cause muscles of cheek to contract. Maintain posture for 10 seconds and then relax.
- Facial yoga can enhance cheek chubbiness and help raise saggy skin of the face by promoting the production of collagen and elastin.
- Fill mouth with air and close lips. Move air to right side cheek and maintain position for 10 seconds. Then move air to left cheek and maintain for 10 seconds. Now exhale. Repeat this exercise 6-7 times per day to get rid of sunken cheeks.
- Eat a balanced healthy diet rich in proteins, fats, carbs, minerals, vitamins and other essential nutrients that are necessary for marinating strong and healthy skin and muscle structure.
- Avoid dry skin and dehydration by drinking adequate amounts of water and other fluids
Cosmetic Treatments for sunken cheeks
- Dermal fillers (collagen and/or hyaluronic acid injections): Natural or synthetic materials like bovine or human collagen and/or hyaluronic acid are often used to manufacture dermal fillers. They are then injected into the cheeks to alleviate sunken cheeks and make them smooth and supple.
- Fat transfer/fat transplantation/micro-lipo-injection: This cosmetic procedure involves gathering fat via liposuction and then injecting such fat into hollow cheeks to increase their puffiness and bounciness
- Injectible collagen tissue stimulators: Unlike dermal fillers which involve mechanically filling and correcting skin wrinkles, folds, and depressions, etc., the process of collagen injectible tissue stimulators is marked by a biological reaction in the tissues of the skin which then cause them to become more supple.
- Facial implants: This procedure involves surgical removal of fat from abdomen, thigh, or buttocks, etc and then surgically grafting them into the sunken cheeks to enhance them. Fillers may be used with this technique to enhance the overall outcome of the surgery.
- Olive oil has monounsaturated fats that contribute to healthy and supple skin. It prevents fine wrinkles and lines, moisturizes skin dryness, and enhances softness of skin. Use warm olive oil to massage sunken cheeks on a daily basis to make them puffy, soft, and supple. Add some extra-virgin olive oil to meals for enhanced results
- Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants. Massaging cheeks with aloe vera gel/juice improves collagen production and skin elasticity, tightens skin, and thus alleviates sunken cheeks.
- Fenugreek is full of vitamins and antioxidants. It contributes to puffiness and firmness of the cheeks as well as smooth, healthier skin. Massage cheeks with paste of fenugreek powder and water or fenugreek oil for best results
- Shea butter has increased amounts of fatty acids which enhance elasticity of the skin. It also contains vitamin E which can make cheeks chubbier as well as more firm. Massage cheeks with Shea butter in upwards and circular movements to correct sunken cheeks.