Full lips are often associated with youthfulness and sensuality. Men and women’s lips are aesthetically very similar. They look best with full plump lips that give a soft, sensual appearance to the mouth. Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with a pair of naturally beautiful lips. If you have them, the elements, smoking, and the aging process eventually take their toll. The corners of the mouth begin to droop. The V-shaped area of the upper lip known as Cupid’s bow begins to flatten out and lose its youthful fullness. Vertical wrinkles or Smoker’s Lines begin to appear, causing your lipstick to bleed. That once sensual look is gone or greatly diminished. Fine wrinkles around the mouth may be worsened by the lip atrophy which accompanies the aging process.
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Thanks to today’s many medical advances there is help. Aging lips can be rejuvenated and thin full lips can be enhanced with lip augmentation. Restoration of lip volume can greatly reduce the number and severity of peri-oral wrinkles.
What Is Lip Augmentation?
Lip augmentation is a cosmetic procedure designed to create fuller, smoother lips, and can also reduce fine lines around the mouth. Lip augmentation can be accomplished with the use of injectable fillers, implants, or through other surgical techniques. This is not only an appearance-enhancing procedure, but also an anti-aging procedure, since thinner lips are one of the most noticeable and universal signs of aging.
Enlargement of the lips can be achieved utilizing a variety of procedures which can be classified as those using:
- injectable fillers,
- surgical placement of implants,
- surgical incisions to advance the red portions of the lip and make them appear larger.
Your surgeon will select the procedure best for you for a variety of reasons, including the shape of each patient’s lips and the results desired.
Injectable Lip Augmentation
Your injectable options include the patient’s own tissues (fat injections), biologic tissue fillers (Restylane, collagen, alloderm), Fat transfer, also called autologous fat transplantation or micro-liposuction, plumps up your lips using fat taken from inconspicuous sites on your body. Fat transfer to the lips is a safe, natural, non-allergenic procedure designed to restore damaged or diminished dermal deficiencies.
Implant Augmentation for Lips
AlloDerm is a dermal graft/implant that was initially used as a skin replacement for burn patients. Now surgeons worldwide recognize its benefits as a safe, natural implant to replace aged or inadequate lip tissue and rejuvenate the wrinkled or aged lip.
Among synthetic implants used for permanent lip augmentation, SoftForm, a type of Gore-tex, is probably the best known. SoftForm implants designed for permanent lip augmentation are shaped like small tubes, allowing tissue growth to help anchor the implants after permanent lip augmentation surgery. SoftForm implants have proven to provide a safe, predictable, non-allergenic improvement for thin or aging lips.
Lip Lift Procedure
Aging brings about changes for nearly every part of the face – and the lips are no exception. The upper lip can lengthen and sag, while the vermilion thins out and takes on a “set” look. Meanwhile, corners can droop and attractive lip curves can fade into the background.
A surgical procedure known as a lip lift can reverse these effects. The elongated space between the nose and the top of the lip can only be shortened with the lip lift procedure. This is the only way to get a permanent lifting of the lips. This effective procedure allows the upper teeth to show again and restores the natural, striking features that people immediately notice. The discreet, virtually invisible scar lies in the shadow crease between the nostril sills.
The lips can also be made fuller by injecting fillers or fat into the lips at the same surgical session. The overall effect of the lip lift is a more esthetically pleasing mouth with a youthful appearance. The patient satisfaction rate is very high.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Lip Augmentation?
Those with very thin lips, fine lines around the mouth, or asymmetry of the lips can benefit from lip augmentation. If a patient has a long upper lip, she might want to consider a lip lift (in conjunction with the lip augmentation) for an overall rejuvenation of the lip.
You are not a good candidate for lip augmentation if you have: current cold sores, certain diseases such as diabetes or lupus, any scarring of the lips, blood clotting problems.
How Should You Prepare for Lip Augmentation Surgery?
The initial consultation with your surgeon will require your complete medical history, so you will want to be prepared to provide the necessary information. You must be completely open and honest with your surgeon. If there is any medical problem, you will be referred to a specialist.
With all of this information, your surgeon can plan the best procedure for your needs and tell you how to adequately prepare for the procedure by giving you guidelines.
With certain filler materials, your surgeon may require a skin allergy tests. Patients who exhibit a reaction to the skin test, those with a serious allergy history, or those who are allergic to lidocaine should not undergo lip augmentation.
In addition, the procedure will usually be postponed if you have an active infection (such as a herpes outbreak) or other inflammatory skin condition present. As with all other cosmetic procedures, you should let your surgeon know about any medications or herbal supplements you may be taking.
Some medications you should not take for up to 2 weeks before your surgery. These medications will include, but are not limited to, aspirin containing products, alcohol and herbal supplements for 14 days prior to surgery and 14 days after surgery. Aspirin and aspirin containing products may inhibit blood clotting and cause difficulties during and after surgery.
How Is Lip Augmentation Surgery Performed?
Lip Augmentation surgery can be accomplished in the office or outpatient setting depending on the surgical procedure selected. Surgery can be carried out under local anesthesia. This procedure usually takes approximately 15 minutes to one hour to perform. Lip surgery produces moderate discomfort which can be controlled by medication. Antibiotics will be prescribed to minimize the chance of infection when implants are used.
In the case of fat injections, the fat is liposuctioned from the hip area, processed, then injected to the lip. With injectable fillers a prepackaged syringe is used to inject the material into the lips. With synthetic implants, a tiny incision is made into the corner of the lip, and the implant is then threaded into position. It can be done under a local anesthetic.
The lip lift procedure may be done in the office under local anesthesia with minimal discomfort. An incision is placed directly beneath the nose and a small strip of skin and tissue is removed. The lip is elevated to its new position exposing about 1/8″ of teeth and permanently increasing the volume of the pink part of the lip. Injectable fillers can be injected in the lips to also give an overall fuller appearance should the patient desire. The procedure takes about ninety minutes and the sutures are usually removed after a week.
What Is Recovery Like After Lip Augmentation Surgery?
Following lip enhancement with one of the injectable products, your lips remain swollen for a few hours only. You may return to normal activities the same day. Touch-up treatments may be necessary.
When implants are used for lip augmentation, discomfort is minimal. Small stitches may be used to close the implant site. These stitches will be removed in a few days. Some swelling may last up to a week. Elevating your head and applying cold compresses during the first 24 hours will help keep this to a minimum. Postoperative discomfort can be controlled with medication. Chewing food and brushing your teeth may be a little uncomfortable for a few days. There may be some bruising which can be covered with make-up.
For a lip lift procedure, recovery time is 2-4 days, and slightly longer if additional procedures were done. You will experience some swelling and bruising which can be relieved with pain medication and ice packs. Most patients are back to full activity within a few. Eating during the first week will be difficult however using a silicone baby teaspoon will make it easier for you. While rates of healing vary widely and can sometimes be a source of worry, the final result is what matters most.
Will the Results of Lip Augmentation Surgery Be Permanent?
If your choice is a permanent lip implant the effects of the implant will be immediately noticeable providing you fuller, plumper, more youthful lips for years to come. Lip lifts can yield permanent lip enhancement results after a one-time, minor surgery. Should you select a non-permanent injectable, the results will be noticeable immediately and will continue to improve over a period of time and will last up to one year.
What Are Possible Complications From Lip Augmentation Surgery?
When the procedure is performed by a highly qualified cosmetic surgeon complications are rare and usually minor. However, as with any surgery, there are potential complications and risks. Your physician will spend time discussing these with you during your scheduled consultation. Be sure to bring a list of questions or concerns with you. All patients are instructed to discuss the general surgical risks with their surgeon.
Risks and possible complications include: bleeding, asymmetry, migration (movement) of the implant, extrusion of the implant and allergic reactions which can cause prolonged redness, itching, swelling or firmness at the injection site.