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Lip Augmentation

When did they start this procedure? How long has it been around?

Lip augmentation has been described at least as far back as the early 20th century. Miller describes a procedure to evert the lip with multiple small incisions, giving it the appearance of increased size. Women of all ethnic and social backgrounds have applied cosmetics to their lips to define or alter their appearance since the Stone Age. Tribal ceremonies involving the introduction of various materials in the upper and lower lip to alter their shape, usually with the intent to enlarge them, have been practiced in African tribes for centuries.

What is this procedure?

Lip augmentation is a cosmetic procedure that can give you fuller, plumper lips. These days, an injectable dermal filler is the most commonly used method of lip augmentation. There are many types of dermal fillers that can be injected in your lips and around your mouth. But the most common fillers today are products that contain substances similar to hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in the body. It helps increase volume in your lips. Lip fillers are injected into the upper and lower lips. There are several different types of lip fillers, including Juvederm, Restylane, Voluma, and Perlane. Lip filler augmentation is an in-office procedure. During your consultation, your doctor will assess your lips and overall facial balance. Your doctor will take pictures of your lips to determine the symmetry and shape of your lips. Then your doctor will determine which areas of your lips need to be fuller and plumper. For temporary lip augmentation, it is recommended to use Juvederm Ultra Plus since this filler has lidocaine. Lidocaine is numbing medication. After your doctor determines how much and where to inject the lip filler, you are ready to proceed.

Who needs this procedure?

Lip Implants: One alternative to temporary lip fillers for lip augmentation is to use implants, which is a more permanent option. During your lip consultation, one of our board certified surgeons will determine what size lip implant would be best. The Permalip implant insertion is an in-office procedure. First, the skin is sterilized around the surgical area. Next, the lips are anesthetized. Once the lips are numb, an incision is made in each corner of the mouth. A tunnel in the lip is created using a tool called a curved alligator clamp. The lip tunnel carefully follows the shape of the lip. Once the curved alligator clamp has reached the end of the tunnel, the clamp opens. The implant is grasped and dragged into the lip tunnel. The implant is positioned underneath the lip fat and above the lip muscles. Once the implants are in place, the incisions are closed with one or two absorbable sutures. The duration of the implant insertion procedure is about thirty minutes, and the patient can go home the day of the procedure.

Fat grafting: Another alternative to artificial fillers and implants is using your own tissue for lip augmentation. Using your own tissue for lip augmentation is called autologous lip augmentation. Fat transfer is one type of autologous lip augmentation and is another great option for lip augmentation. Like lip fillers, fat transfer to the lips is an in-office procedure. Fat transfer to the lips is performed under local anesthesia. During fat transfer to the lips, fat is harvested from your abdomen (around the belly button), purified, and transferred into your lips. Fat transfer to the lips takes about sixty to ninety minutes to perform. The patient can go home the day of the procedure. Lips augmented with fat stay plump for five years or longer.

Tissue grafting: There is another type of autologous lip augmentation. In addition to using fat for lip augmentation, a piece of your own skin or dermis can be used for lip augmentation. During this type of autologous lip augmentation, skin is removed from the lower stomach area. Sometimes, a C-section scar can be resected and used for lip augmentation. Sometimes, the skin removed during a facelift can be used for lip augmentation. After the skin is resected, the top layer of the skin (epidermis) is removed. The remaining piece of skin is a strip of dermis and is rolled into a cigar-like shape. This piece of dermis is then inserted into your lips. This type of autologous lip augmentation is also an in-office procedure and can be performed under local anesthesia. The duration of the dermal transfer to lips procedure ranges from sixty to ninety minutes. The patient can go home the day of the procedure.

What is the advantage of this procedure?

Immediate return to normal activities (one-day return if sedated) for nonsurgical procedures; depending on the procedure and materials used, recovery period is within a week for surgical procedures. AlloDerm and Dermalogen do not require patients to provide donor tissue and are not rejected by the body, because they are human tissue. Usually they have a pliable, natural feel. Gore-Tex implants are permanent, easily inserted and well tolerated by the body. Temporary procedures like collagen or fat injection can be appealing to patients who want to experiment with a fuller-lipped look, but not necessarily commit to it.

Are there non-surgical treatments?

Lip augmentation with the use of injectable fillers obtains quick results with minimal downtime and repeatable applications. The most commonly used materials are collagen and autologous fat. Significant ease of use, "off-the-shelf" availability, and widespread acceptance by the public make collagen one of the most common fillers used. Lip augmentation with collagen and other fillers can be performed by injecting the material in any or all of the anatomic parts of the lip, allowing for a very controlled and predictable result. Precautions regarding mode of injection and quantity of the substance injected vary widely within this family of products.

What is the surgical treatment like local or sedation?

The plastic surgeons do the procedure by making small incisions or by injection. It is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia with or without sedation.

What is the recovery like?

It's important that you have someone with you who can drive you home after a lip augmentation procedure. If you are having surgical implants or grafts, your recovery can take up to two weeks after the surgery. It's important that you know yourself. Discuss how much time you think you'll need for recovery with your doctor. It may be necessary to take some time off work. You will need at least three days off from work, at minimum. If you are physically active, you will not be able to exercise for a few days after injections and perhaps for a few weeks after surgical implants

How long does it take?

The procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes total, and the numbing will start to wear off after about 30 minutes.

What are the complications?

The decision to use fillers is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of dermal fillers are acceptable. Our board certified plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain, in detail, any risks. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure, as well as the risks and potential complications. Severe complications from dermal fillers are uncommon. Potential risks vary depending on the specific filler used and the relative permanence of the filler substance and include: Acne-like skin eruptions, Asymmetry, Bruising, bleeding from the injection site, swelling, Damage to the skin that results in a wound and possible scarring, Infection at the injection site, Lumps, Palpability of the filler under the surface of the skin. Skin rash with itching, Skin redness, Under- or over-correction of wrinkles, Blindness, Skin necrosis (ulceration or loss of skin from disruption of blood flow). These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee that you will be satisfied with your results. Because significant complications can occur from dermal filler injections, it is important to be in the care of a board certified plastic surgeon who understands the risks and is trained and prepared to deal with any complications that may occur.

What can you do to speed up recovery?

For the first two days after the procedure, apply ice packs to the lips on a regular basis. This will help reduce swelling and help prevent or minimize bruising. Applying an antibiotic cream directly on the injection site can help prevent infection. If you had surgery, you probably have stitches. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to care for the area, but you will most likely have to reduce the amount of chewing you do to avoid pulling on the stitches. Stick to liquid or soft foods for the first week or until the stitches are removed.

Do you need to rest up afterwards and for how many days?

You can expect some swelling in your lips after the procedure. You may also notice some small red spots where the needles were injected into your lips. Bruising around the lips is another common side effect, which may last about a week. Your lips might feel different after the procedure due to the presence of the filler. Tori said it felt hard for her to smile for a day or two, because her lips were a little sore. That’s normal. Your plastic surgeon will instruct you not to purse your lips for about two days.

Before & After Gallery