Sunken cheeks occur when you don’t have a lot of tissue (flesh) between your zygoma (the bony arch of your cheek under your eye) and your mandible (your lower jawbone). Both women and men can have them.
Sunken cheeks are often attributed to the aging process, which causes you to lose facial fat. Thin cheeks could also be the result of other factors, including:
- personal habits
Keep reading to learn about all the causes of sunken cheeks and what you can do about it.
As we age, we lose subcutaneous fat from around the eyes and mouth. Subcutaneous means fat that’s just beneath the surface of the skin. Because our bone structure doesn’t change, this can result in sunken cheeks.
Sunken cheeks can also be a symptom of a serious health conditions, such as:
- Vascular EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome). This inherited condition affects the connective tissues in the body and is caused by defects in collagen.
- Lipoatrophy. When a loss of subcutaneous fat affects the face, it results in sunken cheeks and facial folds and indentations. The most common cause is associated with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
- Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, etc.). These disorders can result in hollow facial features, such as sunken cheeks.
- Tuberculosis. Sunken cheeks can be a symptom of advanced states of tuberculosis.
A poor diet can lead to malnutrition which can result in the loss of subcutaneous fat in your cheeks.
Dehydration can also give your cheeks a hollow appearance.
Personal habits and lifestyle can impact the look of your cheeks and your face, including:
- being a heavy tobacco smoker
- participating in extreme exercise that reduces body (and facial) fat
- not getting enough sleep
If your face is often exposed to harsh weather conditions, your skin could lose elasticity, resulting in sunken cheeks.
To give your cheeks a fuller appearance, a trained healthcare provider can use injectable facial fillers. Depending on the product used, these fillers can last from several months to several years.
Popular fillers include Hyaluronic acid (HA) and Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA).
A plastic surgeon can also use liposuction to take fat from another part of your body and inject it into your cheeks as a filler.
Add a teaspoon of aloe vera gel to your daily diet
Try facial exercises
You may be able to reverse your sunken cheeks by toning your facial muscles with specific facial exercises. An 8 week
An example of a facial exercise is to close your mouth and then fill your cheeks with as much air as you can hold. Keep the air in for a full 45 seconds and then slowly release it.
Although often a sign of natural aging, sunken cheeks could be the result of other factors, including:
- illness, such as vascular EDS, lipoatrophy, and tuberculosis
- malnourishment or dehydration
- lifestyle, such as heavy tobacco use or extreme exercise
Sunken cheeks can be addressed by a plastic surgeon with fillers. There are also home remedies that may be effective such as consuming aloe vera gel and doing facial exercises.