In evaluating the facial profile, the shape of the chin plays a very important role. In many cases, a receding chin accompanies an overly large nose. In other cases, lack of adequate chin projection can mar an otherwise acceptable profile. Few people realize that a receding chin is quite easily amenable to corrective surgery.
In some cases, a receding chin is related to a functional problem in the relationship of the lower and upper jaws. This type of receding chin may be best corrected by shifting the entire lower jaw. Usually, the problem is merely one of appearance and this is best corrected by a much simpler operation called a mentoplasty or chin augmentation.
This operation may be combined with a rhinoplasty, facelift procedure or any other cosmetic operation, although in many cases it is carried out alone. Frequently, it is combined with liposuction surgery of the neck (see discussion of liposuction surgery). In these cases, the two procedures are complimentary. The implant is inserted through a tiny incision made under the chin. Because of its location and size, the scar is barely visible, and under normal circumstances, cannot be seen at all. The implants are available in various shapes and sizes so that the operation can be customized to the needs of the individual.
No dressing is required in most cases after surgery. Sutures dissolve in a week to ten days, and do not require removal. Recovery is prompt although there is usually considerable discomfort of the chin for a few days. Swelling may persist for some time and patients should be aware that the operation may look “overdone” for the first few weeks.
Recent improvements in the design of these implants have led to even more natural results than were possible in the past. Numerous studies have confirmed the safety of silicone as an implant material, and it remains the most common type of surgical implant, although other synthetic materials are available for use as a chin implant.
There have been no cases of malignant change. The only significant complications that occasionally occur are minor shifting of the implant or numbness of the chin or lip. Fortunately, shifting can be corrected either by replacement or reinsertion of a different implant. Rarely, infection may require the removal of the implant, although once satisfactory healing has occurred subsequent infection is extremely unlikely. Occasionally, minor irregularities of the mandible have been noted on x-rays following chin implantation, but these have not been associated with change in the actual structure or strength of the bone.
Chin augmentation is one of the more gratifying procedures in facial profile correction, since so many patients are not even aware of the possibilities of correcting a receding chin. The improvement resulting from this procedure can be striking, indeed.