Chin augmentation with the use of synthetic implants is a simple and very effective method to enhance the forward projection of the lower face. Placed through a small incision underneath the chin in a skin crease, the bone of the chin is easily accessible for implant positioning. While this concept for facial enhancement has been used for over 40 years and the operative technique has essentially retained the same, the shapes and sizes of chin implants however have changed dramatically.
Chin implants historically consist of a central augmentation style which resulted in increased projection of the chin button. This implant style only covered in width the most anterior portion of the chin. While this style is still available today, the explosion of chin implant options takes into account how one may want to change the external appearance of the lower jaw line and its impact on the overlying chin soft tissues as well.
Anatomical chin implants have extended side 'wings' from a central button that wrap around the chin better. This results in a potentially visible and obvious step-off from the implant to the bone and avoids an unnatural chin elongation that does not fit the jawline. There are numerous variations of this anatomical design concept that change the thickness of the implant in different places to help create and improve the external appearance of the chin. These include such styles as a square design for men (who want a more square chin) to pre-jowl styles to help smooth out the indentation of the marionette lines for women. (create a smoother jawline as the chin blends into the posterior jawline) There are even implants that have a preformed notch in the middle (or one can be cut into it) to help create a central chin dimple if one so desires.
The selection of chin implant style can be determined by a visual or photographic analysis of your chin and some computer imaging done to see what changes you consider helpful to your goals. The size of a chin implant, however, is best done by doing measurements on a good 1: 1 photograph or a lateral cephalometric x-ray in a side view. Since the soft tissues of the chin move pretty much 1: 1 on what the bone does underneath, one can fairly accurately predict what a certain thickness (size) of an implant will do in profile.
Changing the appearance of one's chin today has more options than in the past. No longer do you have to just leave it up to the surgeon's eye to determine what is best for you. As an Indianapolis chin surgeon, I prefer to use a combination of photographs and occasional x-rays to help plan the outcome of chin surgery. While even the best preoperative planning is no guarantee of results, the more thought and input you have from the patient beforehand, the more likely you will be aware of the patient's goals.