Contouring can truly work wonders, helping cheekbones appear out of nowhere and sculpting the jawline. But if you feel like the latter needs more help than some shading with makeup can deliver, mentoplasty might be the answer.
Mentoplasty refers to surgery in the chin area. One of the best things about it is that it can be precisely tailored to the needs of the patient, explains facial plastic surgeon Dara Liotta, MD. “This type of surgery can be used to increase the projection—forward and/or downward—of the chin, with implants or by altering the bone position itself,” she explains. Mentoplasty can also be done to decrease the projection of the chin by shaving the bone.
Additionally, mentoplasty can help alter the appearance of the neck. “The chin has long been an underappreciated facial feature, in my opinion,” Liotta says. “A strong chin helps balance our profile and make our neck look longer and our submental angle look deeper. A chin that is appropriately projected also keeps us young looking, delaying the signs of aging, like jowling, by physically tenting the skin forward more than in someone with a smaller chin.”
We asked Liotta and plastic surgeon Adam Kolker, MD, to give us the full breakdown on all things mentoplasty. Keep reading to find out what they had to say.
Meet the Expert
What Is Mentoplasty?
“Mentoplasty is actually an umbrella term that describes all surgery that modifies the chin and its relationship to the rest of the face,” explains Kolker. “Patients seek mentoplasty to volumetrically enhance an underdeveloped chin or jaw. The overarching principle of treatment, however, is to improve facial harmony by restoring proportion and balance with other facial features.”
Mentoplasty most commonly describes chin augmentation or chin implant surgery. “It can be performed to produce a more defined chin profile and distinct jawline,” Kolker says. “Mentoplasty will enhance a recessive or retrusive chin. It can also better define a rounded face and neck and improve the definition of the cervicomental angle (the neck/chin junction).”
The chin can be augmented by inserting a chin implant, Kolker explains. Chin implants are either solid silicone or porous polyethylene (a synthetic material). Implants can be placed through an incision on the undersurface of the chin or through the mouth.
Mentoplasty can also mean surgery on the bone of the chin directly—such as a sliding genioplasty—that increases the projection, either forward or downward, of the patient’s own chin bone, explains Liotta. Additionally, it can entail shaving the chin bone to decrease projection.
Benefits of Mentoplasty
- Help balance the profile and proportions of the face
- Increase the projection of the chin
- Decrease the projection of the chin
- Improve the appearance of the neck
“The greatest benefit of chin augmentation is its impact on facial harmony and balance,” Kolker says. “With a retrusive or recessive chin, the lower face appears disproportionately small or deficient. Enhancing the projection of the chin brings the entire face into better balance.”
How to Prepare for Mentoplasty
“Preparing for mentoplasty is similar to preparing for other surgeries,” Liotta says. “No aspirin or ibuprofen 10 days before surgery. Stop drinking alcohol 10 days before surgery as well, and make sure you have time for recovery built into your schedule.” Additionally, Kolker recommends that smokers stop smoking before surgery.
What to Expect During Mentoplasty
Surgery is performed in an operating room, either in an office-based surgery facility, ambulatory surgery center, or hospital. “It is most commonly performed under intravenous sedation,” Kolker says. “Some surgeons prefer general anesthesia, while others perform the surgery under local anesthesia with oral medications to enhance relaxation.”
Patients typically arrive approximately an hour before surgery, and the procedure takes about one hour. It is performed outpatient, so after a short stay in the post-anesthesia care facility for around 45 minutes, patients can go home with a friend or family member.
Alternatives to Mentoplasty
There are non-surgical alternatives to mentoplasty. “Other options are filler and Botox injections for chin augmentation or laser for tightening the skin in the area surrounding the chin,” Liotta says.
However, mentoplasty is the most permanent option. “Hyaluronic acid fillers for the chin such as Juvederm Voluma XC and Restylane Defyne can temporarily enhance, but many consider HA fillers an ‘audition’ for what a more permanent solution might look like,” Kolker says. “For individuals with more moderate or significant underdevelopment or lack of definition, the soft, viscous nature of an injectable filler is rarely enough to achieve and maintain contour in the short and long term, and surgery (chin implant or genioplasty) is preferred.”
Potential Side Effects
“As with any surgical procedure, there are the risks inherent to surgery, such as bleeding, infection, and a visible surgical scar,” Liotta says. “Less common risks, but things that your surgeon will think about, include numbness in the area of the chin and lower lip on one or both sides, or alteration in the movement of the lower lip with smiling.”
To minimize potential side effects, you’ll want to consider the type of mentoplasty you’re having. “The fewest side effects are associated with a submental incision (beneath the chin) and by creating a hand-in-glove pocket for the chin implant,” Kolker says.
“The cost of mentoplasty can vary widely based on geographic location, the education and training of your surgeon, and how busy they are,” Liotta says. “In my office, costs, including surgical fees, operating room charges, and anesthesia fees, can range from $10,000 to $15,000 for mentoplasty.”
After surgery, patients should expect to feel a bit tired the first day. “There will be a compression bandage on the chin (a Lycra chin strap) that they’re instructed to keep on for the first 48 hours,” Liotta says. “After this time, they can remove the bandage and shower normally. Patients should expect a bit of tenderness, like a bruise, over the area of the chin and upper neck. There is generally a small (around one centimeter) incision beneath the chin with stitches.” The stitches are removed approximately a week after surgery.
Most people will experience mild discomfort after chin implant surgery, but that is typically controlled with non-narcotic pain medication according to Kolker. Additionally, a soft diet is recommended for one week.
The Final Takeaway
The results of mentoplasty are permanent. “Unlike implants used elsewhere that may require replacement, when a chin implant procedure is performed successfully, additional surgery is rarely required,” Kolker says.
Since mentoplasty is permanent, it’s even more crucial to find the right surgeon. “Do your research,” Liotta says. “Choosing a board-certified surgeon with lots of experience is the best way to minimize complications. Also, follow the instructions of your surgeon, both before and after surgery, as closely as you can. Lastly, if you feel that something in the healing period isn’t right, speak up.”