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Chin implants are popular with boomers

Plastic surgeons across the country have seen a big uptick in people altering the look of their chins, making it the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

"I've been seeing more people asking about chin implants," said Dr. Lyle Leipziger, chief of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Great Neck. However, he noted, not everyone who asks about a chin implant actually needs one. "We have to evaluate each person individually to achieve a balance and harmony to their facial features," Leipziger said.

Dr. Stephen Coccaro, a plastic surgeon with Suffolk Plastic Surgeons in East Setauket, said that he's had people come for a consultation who think they need a nose job when, in fact, they really need to have their chin done, or vice versa.

 

MY CHIN LOOKS LIKE...THAT?

 

Technology might have something to do with the trend. (The society said more than 20,000 Americans opted to have chin augmentation surgery last year -- an increase of 71 percent over the previous year.) When it released the statistics, the plastic surgeons' group speculated that increased use of video chatting has made people more aware of how their jaw lines look.

In his practice, Leipziger said, the most common reason for chin augmentation is aging. "With facial aging, sometimes the chin is not as prominent," he explained. "You may lose some bone density as you age."

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The national statistics bear this out, with the biggest growth among the aging Baby Boom generation: an increase of 77 percent from 2010 to last year among 40- to 54-year-olds and 70 percent for those 55 and older.

 

 

HOW IMPLANTS ARE DONE

 

Chin implants can be done through an incision in the mouth, made at the lower gum line, or through an incision under the chin, the surgeons explained. A mouth incision leaves no visible scar but carries a higher risk for infection, doctors say; whereas, an under-the-chin incision has less chance of an infection but does leave a small scar.

A chin implant also can be done at the same time as a face-lift, Leipziger said, and then the incisions for the face-lift would be used.

As for the implants themselves, they're "silicone or Silastic that are placed just over the chin bone itself" and come in "a whole range of styles and sizes and widths and lengths," he said. "What's most important is to match the rest of the face. You don't want a chin that's too big. You don't want your chin to dominate. It should be in line with the rest of your facial features."

The surgery can be done with a local anesthetic. Afterward, Coccaro said, swelling is most significant in the first two days, and swelling and bruises should be gone by six weeks. The final look won't be evident, though, until about six months after the procedure.

Costs vary, but the procedure tends to average about $5,000, according to Coccaro. Health insurance usually does not cover cosmetic procedures.

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