Lip enhancement can be a type of cosmetic surgery or a non-surgical procedure. Its purpose is to reduce fine lines around the mouth and increase fullness of poorly-defined lips which may be hereditary or as a result of aging. Lip augmentation improves their appearance by injecting or surgically implanting material or fillers into the lips.
The upper or lower lip may be treated individually or both lips can be enlarged at the same time. Some procedures are temporary, others are permanent. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,025 lip enhancement procedures (not including lip enhancement by injectables) were carried out in 2014.
In order to be suitable for lip enhancements, it’s recommended that you are in good, overall general health and free from cold sores.
There are a variety of surgical and non-surgical options available to you, and if you don’t want a permanent change the non-surgical ones are what you should look at. Do bear in mind that some of the non-surgical procedures may also be permanent, so do make sure you ask a reputable practitioner about this before you make a decision.
When you choose to have injections in your lips, these are usually performed as an outpatient basis in your doctor’s surgery or at a clinic or outpatient center. There are numerous options available for injections:
Fat transfer is when the patient’s own fat is harvested from their abdomen or thighs under local anesthetic to augment the lip volume. One of the many advantages of this is that there won’t be an allergic reaction and if it’s carried out properly and it is considered a permanent procedure.
Fillers, including Restylane® with lidocaine anesthetic to reduce injection pain, is the first lip filler with FDA approval and can be undertaken in minutes.
Artefill® is a new kind of semi-permanent, synthetic dermal filler made of PMMA suspended in bovine collagen. This lasts longer than many cosmetic fillers and is also used to treat static facial lines.
Collagen has been used since the 1980s and became the benchmark for lip augmentation but it does require an allergy test and again, the results aren’t permanent.
Autologen is made from skin and collagen extracted from your own body. Although there’s no risk of an allergic reaction, it’s only a temporary measure but a good idea for a first-timer, unsure whether to commit.
Whilst fillers are still the more popular option, lip implants and surgeries offer a long-term solution for a plump pout and can work out cheaper than having injections every few months which are eventually absorbed into the body. It’s wise to try fillers before opting for a permanent implant to make sure you like the look.
Lip implant surgery takes about an hour to perform under local or general anesthetic and is a relatively simple procedure. Four small incisions are made at the corners of the mouth and a thin tunnel is created which will accommodate the cylindrical silicone implant which is threaded through the lip. When the surgeon is happy with the placement, the ends will be trimmed to the perfect size and the incisions neatly closed with a thin, dissolvable thread. Sutures outside the mouth are removed after 10 days, any internal sutures will dissolve around the same time. Depending on the extent of swelling and bruising, recovery time is between one and two weeks and the lips could be numb for up to three months post surgery.
One of the many benefits of implants is that you can select the exact size you want and they will remain constant. It’s important that the lower lip is one and a half times the size of the top lip to give you a youthful, fuller look. If the top lip is too big, it’s what gives the dreaded ‘trout pout’ which doesn’t look good on anybody.
Implants are usually made of silicone or Goretex and give a smoother look than fillers which may look irregular. Alloderm® is an extremely popular material for lip implants. It’s a sheet of highly-screened and processed collagen harvested from cadavers under strict conditions. Alloderm ® is eventually absorbed by the body so lasts between six and 12 months.
Because they don’t shrink and are never absorbed by the body, Gore-Tex and SoftForm are synthetic options with more permanent results. They are made into small tubes which are inserted by a needle and are held in place by scar tissue. There is a small chance that the body can reject these synthetic implants, in which case they can be removed.
Fat grafting is a popular option because people feel more comfortable using fat from their own body, usually the abdomen. It becomes permanent on around half of the patients who try it but there’s always a chance that it may be absorbed by the body. It’s a gamble and there’s no way of telling which way your body will react. It’s harvested, prepared and injected into the lips with a needle in several points in the lips.