Lip Augmentation

Also known as lip injections, lip fillers and lip enhancement

Having full, plump lips is often considered a sign of good health, beauty and youth. Whether you were born with thin lips or your lips are thinning due to the natural aging process, there are many ways to enhance them or restore soft tissue loss. Lip injections using natural or synthetic fillers can keep your lips plump for months at a time. Lip implants and other surgical procedures can also be performed for a more permanent solution. Other options include lip lifts, vermillion (lip) advancement and permanent makeup. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful lip enhancement and are pleased with the results.

WHEN TO CONSIDER LIP AUGMENTATION

  • Your lips have always been thin and disappear when you smile

  • As you age, your lips have become thinner and less full

  • You feel self-conscious about how your lips look

  • Having fuller lips will help balance out your face

  • If your self-confidence would improve from such a procedure

CONSIDERATIONS

PROS

  • Some lip injections are temporary and can be modified to your preference

  • Implants and surgical enhancement provide a permanent solution

  • Quick one-day recovery for injections and a week for most lip surgery

CONS

  • Temporary fillers will require injections every few months

  • Lip asymmetry is a possibility

  • Removal of implants is difficult

These are the top three pros and cons to weigh when considering lip enhancement. If you want to focus on what is unique to you, please consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon.

Are you a good candidate for a lip enhancement?

The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider lip enhancement:

  • Good candidates for lip enhancement want to plump up thin lips or create a fuller look. If you smile and your top lip or both lips disappear, you may benefit from lip augmentation.

  • Some techniques can improve uneven lips, the shape of your mouth and gum-show when you smile.

  • On the other hand, if your lips are too large and overwhelm your face, speak to your plastic surgeon about lip reduction surgery.

If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.

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A.

 A. Thin, poorly defined lips may be hereditary or the results of aging. 

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B.

B. After lip enhancement, your lips will be fuller and have a better contour.

HOW IS LIP AUGMENTATION PROCEDURE PERFORMED?

There are many methods for lip enhancement. Your surgeon will offer you options depending on your aesthetic goals and recovery time frame. It might be appropriate to have two or more of these procedures to achieve the right look for you. 

Injections - fat transfer
In fat transfer, autologous fat (fat from your own body) can be taken via liposuction from another area of your body and injected into your lips. Injections may need to be repeated until you get the desired result.

Injections - fillers
Fillers made from natural or synthetic biocompatible material such as collagen or hyaluronic acid act as a fat substitute to plump up the lip. One treatment is usually sufficient to produce the desired result. The results, however, may be temporary and require repeat injections.

Surgery - dermal graft
A permanent method of augmenting the lips is accomplished by surgically advancing the lip forward, with incisions placed inside the mouth. A dermal-fat graft, taken from the deeper layers of the skin, may then be positioned under the mucosa (the lining of the lip) to add additional plumpness.

Surgery - vermillion advancement
This procedure involves making an incision along the border of the colored portion of the lips, removing a strip of skin outside the border and then pulling the colored portion to increase the area of the lips. 

Surgery - lip implant
Lip implants can be inserted through tiny incisions inside the corners of the mouth. There are many natural or synthetic implant options available. Your surgeon will discuss which option is best for you.

Surgery - lip lift
Removing extra skin and lifting the lips will help those with loose skin or those who have a downward sloping mouth. To increase the upper lip, an incision is made under the nose and the skin is shortened to pull up the lips. Other lift techniques can shorten the upper lip to expose more teeth. To lift a downward turning mouth, small incisions are made on the side of the mouth and the extra skin is removed. Very small sutures are used for this procedure and removed four to five days later.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

There are many different options to enlarge or enhance the size and shape of your lips: fat injections, filler injections, dermal grafting, vermillion advancement, lip implants and lip lifting. Injections, grafting, and implants can physically change the plumpness and volume of your lips, while lip lifts and vermillion advancement can change the shape and increase the amount of colored area of your lips.

Also, many have found that permanent makeup can also help accentuate the lips and increase their visibility without having surgery or applying makeup everyday.

Silicone injections – patient safety warning

Silicone injections are an unsafe and unacceptable option to use as a filler. These injections are not FDA approved and often offered by unlicensed individuals and should be avoided. Always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon, preferably an ASAPS Member, if you have questions about a particular type or brand.

AFTERCARE AND RECOVERY

The downtime from nonsurgical options (filler injections and permanent makeup) is minimal. You may experience some bruising or swelling which will subside with time.

Your surgeon will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:

  • Drains, if they have been placed

  • Normal symptoms you will experience

  • Potential signs of complication.

Immediately after lip enhancement (surgical)
You will experience postoperative bruising and swelling, with mild to moderate discomfort for a day or two. A cold compress can be applied to the operative site to reduce swelling, bruising and pain. You may be restricted to a liquid-only diet for one or two days. You will most likely be mobile the day of your surgery, but your activities will be restricted. 

Recovery time frame
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by your surgeon. This will include information about wearing compression garments, care of your drains if placed, taking an antibiotic if prescribed and the level and type of activity that is safe. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.

The first two weeks

  • You should be able to return to work and other normal activities within a week.

  • Stitches are removed in four to six days; sutures placed inside the mouth will dissolve in a similar period of time.

  • You may be restricted to a soft diet for up to ten days.

 

Week two to eight

  • After four to six weeks, vigorous physical activity can be resumed.

HOW LONG WILL THE RESULTS LASTS?

How long the results last from your lip enhancement procedure depends on the treatment chosen and your reaction to the treatment.

 

  • Fat injections may require multiple injections but could lead to permanent lip enhancement.

  • Filler injections results depend on the type of filler used. Some dermal fillers last from three to six months, while others last almost a year.

  • Dermal grafting, lip implants, lip lifting, and vermillion advancement provide essentially permanent results.

 

Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it’s important to return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your facial implants. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.

LIMITATIONS AND RISKS

Fortunately, significant complications from lip enhancement are infrequent. This procedure is usually performed without any major problems.

Risks and potential complications of surgery is a subject you should discuss during your consultation. The risks in most surgeries are similar. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia

  • Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)

  • Infection

  • Changes in sensation

  • Scarring

  • Allergic reactions

  • Damage to underlying structures

  • Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures.

 

You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your lip enhancement procedure.

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