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:

  • illness
  • diet
  • personal habits
  • environment

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:

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:

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

To address sunken cheeks, consider adding aloe vera to your daily routine. A 2009 study of women showed improved facial elasticity by consuming a teaspoon of aloe vera gel every day for 90 days.

Try facial exercises

You may be able to reverse your sunken cheeks by toning your facial muscles with specific facial exercises. An 8 week study completed in 2018 indicated that people who did 30 minutes of facial exercises every day had firmer and younger looking faces.

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.