Skeletal volume enhancement: implants and osteotomies

Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004 Aug;12(4):349-56. doi: 10.1097/01.moo.0000130576.04818.55.


Purpose of review: Facial plastic surgeons are concerned with improving or restoring function and form. Most surgeons perform primarily soft tissue procedures, which alone are often sufficient. However, deficiencies in the underlying craniomaxillofacial skeleton must also be addressed. Facial skeletal augmentation remains an essential aspect of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. This article reviews the basic alloplastic biomaterials available for facial volume enhancement, discusses the zygomatic sandwich osteotomy for malar augmentation, and describes recent applications of distraction osteogenesis in the craniomaxillofacial region. An update in tissue engineering and computer modeling is also provided.

Recent findings: High-porosity expanded polytetrafluoroethylene has been developed to provide a softer feel with less shrinkage and migration because of better biointegration and cellular ingrowth. Long-term results with porous polyethylene have demonstrated superior biocompatibility and minimal complications. Hydroxyapatite cement has been associated with an immunoguided delayed inflammatory reaction that leads to thinning of the overlying skin and exposure of the implant.Applications of distraction osteogenesis are rapidly expanding and include deformities of the mandible, midface, and cranium. There has been a trend toward the use of internal hardware, and internal devices are being developed to deliver a greater degree of vector control. Biodegradable devices have been developed to eliminate the second surgical procedure necessary for hardware removal. In the future, successful tissue engineering could eliminate many of the drawbacks associated with implants and osteotomies. The ability to stimulate stem cells to generate autogenous bone has been demonstrated in the laboratory. A novel application of computer technology that integrates laser surface scanning and digitizing with computer-aided design and manufacturing to produce facial prostheses has been described.

Summary: An abundance of alternatives exist for skeletal volume enhancement including alloplastic implants, standard osteotomies, and distraction osteogenesis. The surgeon must evaluate the pros and cons of each technique in the context of each individual patient to determine the most appropriate option. Technologic advances in biomaterials, distraction hardware, computer modeling, and tissue engineering will continue to supply the surgeon's repertoire with improved methods to augment and restore the craniomaxillofacial skeleton.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Simulation
  • Facial Bones / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Osteogenesis, Distraction
  • Osteotomy*
  • Surgery, Plastic


  • Biocompatible Materials