What is Lip Enhancement?
Lip augmentation, also called lip enhancement, is a cosmetic procedure done to add or restore shape and fullness to the lips, making them more sensual and aesthetically pleasing.
Full, sensual lips have long been considered an aesthetic ideal. Lip augmentation with dermal fillers or implants plumps the lips, enhancing the look of the entire face. Those who have naturally thin lips or lips that have thinned with age can especially benefit from lip enhancement.
The term lip enhancement covers a wide variety of cosmetic procedures from temporary injectable fillers to permanent methods of augmentation that require surgery. There are different fillers and lipoinjections that work for different types of lips.
The three main ways lip enhancement can help your facial appearance are:
- Shape – lip contours including the “cupid’s bow” of the upper lip
- Structure – the form of the lips
- Volume – fullness or plumpness
What Different Types of Lip Augmentation are Available?
Lip augmentation procedures falls into two general categories;
- Temporary – minimally invasive procedures
- Permanent – longer, more detail procedure but results are permanent.
Temporary Lip Enhancement Solutions
Injectable dermal fillers are currently the most common method of lip augmentation used in Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. These dermal fillers can be employed to fill in wrinkles or as “volumizers” used to fill out and plump up various parts of the face, including the lips.
A wide selection of these volumizers is available, since not every type of filler is right for every person or situation.
Different Types of Lip Fillers (volumizers):
Fat Injection or Lipoinjection
One of the potentially longest lasting and most natural ways to fill or augment the lips is to use the person’s own fat. Fat injection, otherwise known as lipoinjection, is a process whereby fat is taken from the body, purified, and injected into the lips.
Fat is removed from parts of the body where there is some excess using a “mini” liposuction technique. The fat must be harvested very carefully in order to avoid damage to the living fat cells. The harvested fat cells are then washed and purified very gently. They are then injected into the lips to create full, shapely lips.
The benefits of fat injection or lipoinjection are many. Fat injection is very natural since the person’s own fat is being used. The injected lips feel very natural. The results of fat injection last for many years. This is longer than any other form of filler that is currently being used. Because of the unique healing process required for the fat transfer, sometimes, fat injection doesn’t work on the first try. Some may require a second injection to achieve the look they desire. Finally, fat injection is a two-part procedure where fat has to be removed from one part of the body and transferred to another.
Overall, fat injection is an excellent way to enhance the lips and other parts of the face (cheeks, hollows under the eyes, temples, etc.) and body (buttocks, breasts, etc.). Success with fat injection is highly dependent on the surgeon performing the injections and following the post-treatment care instructions carefully. Otherwise, there is a potential to lose the fat. While this is not dangerous in any way, it can be disappointing.
Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
The most common fillers used today use a form of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in the body. Hyaluronic acid fillers are carefully injected into the lips, with the purpose of adding volume and improving shape and structure.
When injected, hyaluronic acid dermal fillers support facial structures and tissues that may have lost volume or elasticity due to normal aging. They also cause water to rise to the surface of the skin to keep it looking fresh and supple.
The effects of hyaluronic acid injections typically last about six months to a year. After that period of time, more injections will likely be needed to keep up the desired volume of the lips.
Brands of Popular Hyaluronic Acid Fillers Include:
- Restylane, Restylane-L, Restylane Silk
- Perlane, Perlane-L
- Juvederm Ultra XC, Juvederm Ultra XC Plus
- Belotero Balance
- Prevelle Silk
All of these products are injected the same way and give similar results. Some also contain lidocaine, a local anesthetic. Your doctor will explain which of these fillers is right for you and why.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
The benefits of using hyaluronic acid fillers include:
- Control over lip volume
- Gradual Pace – Injections can be given over a period of time during specifically paced appointments until the desired lip volume is achieved.
- Less bruising compared with other types of fillers
- Any lumps or bumps can be dissolved
- Unlikely to cause allergic reaction since they are naturally found in the body
- Unlike some forms of collagen, hyaluronic acid is not derived from animal sources.
Lip Collagen Injections
Another popular dermal filler, which can also be used for lip enhancement is a natural protein called collagen. Collagen treatments are used to touch-up wrinkles and lines around the mouth and on the forehead, as well as to help patients achieve fuller lips.
Your skin consists of several separate layers. The outer layer is called the epidermis. The layer beneath that is the dermis. The dermis consists mainly of a protein called collagen. Collagen is a key support structure in your skin, providing a framework for the growth of cells and blood vessels.
This natural protein is used by plastic surgeons to lessen the signs of aging and to enhance the appearance of your face and lips. These collagen fillers were the first type of dermal fillers to be used for aesthetic procedures. Collagen lip injections are one of the most popular uses for this type of beauty enhancing procedure.
When collagen is injected into the skin the contour and support structure begins to be restored and rebuilt, enhancing the fullness and contours of the lips. The effects of collagen injections for lip augmentation typically last only 3 months at which point they can be reinjected.
Collagen fillers are derived either from human skin or animals, including cows (bovine) or pigs (porcine). Injectable collagen formulas derived from human sources include Cosmoderm and Cosmoplast. Zyderm and Zyplast are forms of purified bovine collagen. These require allergy testing before use. Evolence is a dermal collagen filler made from purified pig collagen. This also requires an allergy test before use.
Artefill is a hybrid (combination) form of collagen created by mixing bovine collagen with specially created tiny microspheres. These microspheres help create the new, desired look and also stimulate natural collagen production.
Autologen is your own collagen, which is harvested during a previous operation such as a mommy makeover and processed into liquid form. This collagen is then sterilized and prepared for re-injection. When this type of collagen is used there is no need for allergy testing. Your processed liquid collagen can be safely stored for five years and used as needed.
Collagen injections have taken a back seat to hyaluronic acid fillers over the past ten years. Since hyaluronic acid fillers are so easy to use, almost never cause allergic reactions, don’t require skin testing, can be dissolved if necessary, last 2-4 times longer and are available in so many forms, they have replaced collagen as the filler of choice, including for lip enhancement or augmentation.
Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)
Another procedure used for lip enhancement and augmentation is one in which one’s own blood is drawn, treated and then injected into the appropriate location on the face. This process, also known as the “vampire lift”, can last from 12 to 18 months. This is not a common way to perform lip augmentation.
Risks Connected with Lip Fillers
Wrinkle fillers are among the safest cosmetic procedures in use today. However, the use of any dermal filler comes with risks. These include, for some, a potential of allergic reaction. This is extremely rare. There is also the possibility of the formation of tiny bumps under the skin, which in some cases may become permanent.
Once in a while, a bluish skin discoloration known as the Tyndall Effect can occur. The color change can last for several months, but there are treatments available for this side effect.
Other rare side effects have been known to occur. Your doctor will go over these with you before the procedure.
How to minimize the risks from using dermal fillers
Don’t let price be your guide. Find the best-qualified doctor for the job. You don’t want to put your appearance and your health in danger, just to save a few dollars. With lower cost locations you may be compromising on the skill of the doctor or the quality of the product being used.
For the fewest risks from lip augmentation with dermal fillers, or any aesthetic procedure for that matter, make sure you see only a board-certified plastic surgeon with an active and busy cosmetic practice.
Only have your procedure done in a medical setting, with sterile instruments and brand-name, FDA approved products.
Use sunscreen to protect your newly enhanced features.
Permanent Lip Augmentation Procedures
Patients looking for a more permanent solution to lip enhancement may opt for a surgical lip augmentation procedure.
Permanent Lip Enhancement Procedures Include:
Lip enhancement with a dermal strip graft is a minimally invasive, surgical procedure. During a dermal graft, your surgeon will take skin and tissue from another location on your body, such as the inner part of the thigh. After careful processing, this tissue in used in place of synthetic fillers to augment the lips. Advantages of using the dermal graft process to enhance the lips are that the results are longer-lasting than those achieved by fillers and there is no fear of “rejection” or allergic reaction.
Permanent Lip Implants
In other, frequently more severe cases of thinning lips, permanent lip implants are available. This procedure is a safe and effective way of providing bulk to the body of the lips. Once placed within the lip, the implant remains there permanently and the surgical procedure does not need to be repeated. This implant may be palpable in the lip after the surgery but does not interfere with speaking, drinking, smiling, kissing, etc. Most patients become quite comfortable with the implants once the lips have fully healed. As with any implant, these lip implants will likely require adjustment or replacement or removal in the future. In some people, lip implants can dislodge and become asymmetric or “crooked”. In others, the implant can poke its way out of the skin requiring them to be removed. Generally, Dr. Ganchi doesn’t recommend permanent lip implants.
Vermilion Lip Advancement
The word vermilion refers to the part of the lip that is pink or reddish in color. The vermilion border is the sharp demarcation between the red colored lip and the adjacent normal skin.
Some patients have extremely thin lips lacking any height. For this condition, the doctor may recommend a lip vermilion advancement. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a precise incision along the lip border and advance the pink lip up over the white lip. As a result, there is a scar along the edge of the lip. This scar usually heals very nicely.
There are two types of lip lift: the corner lift and the upper lip lift. The Upper Lip Lift is more common than the Corner Lip Lift
The purpose of these lifts is to give the patient a more youthful and relaxed smile.
An upper lip lift shortens the skin distance between the upper lip and the base of the nose, increasing the amount of ‘pink lip’ that is seen. This exposes the upper teeth more and gives the patient fuller, more youthful-looking lips.
In a corner lip lift only the edges of the mouth are lifted. This procedure is designed for the patient who feels as though they have a permanent frown. Both lip lift procedures have scars that usually heal very nicely.
Who is a Good Candidate for Lip Enhancement Surgery?
If you’re thinking about getting lip augmentation, you may want to know if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
Here’s what makes someone a good candidate for lip enhancement:
- Good overall health
- Realistic expectations for the procedure
- Wants the procedure for their own sake, not for the benefit of anyone else
- Has naturally thin lips or lips that have become thin through aging
- Has lips that are uneven
- Wants their lips to stop the gum line from showing when they smile
Lip Augmentation Before and After Gallery
The Right Lip Enhancement Doctor
It’s vital that you find the right plastic surgeon for your lip enhancement. You will want to select a board-certified plastic surgeon with high-level training and education from a well-known and respected university. The plastic surgeon should have much experience in the area of lip enhancement and augmentation.
An additional, but equally important, consideration is that you should feel comfortable with your doctor, and have confidence in his skill and his judgment. Contact our office if you would like to meet Dr. Ganchi and his staff to see if lip augmentation in their NJ clinic is right for you.