The visible signs of facial aging occur over time as a result of sun exposure, heredity and lifestyle.
One of the earliest signs of aging is a loss of facial fullness and the development of wrinkles. Softening of these facial lines and the restoration of volume and fullness in the face often can be achieved non-surgically with injectable fillers.
If you would like to restore facial contours, or reduce the appearance of lines and creases, injection therapy with soft tissue fillers may be right for you.
Injectable fillers can:
- Plump thin lips
- Enhance shallow contours
- Soften facial creases and wrinkles
- Improve the appearance of recessed scars
Best Candidates for Lip Enhancement
You must be in good general health. You might not a good candidate for lip augmentation if you have oral herpes, scarring, or certain diseases such as diabetes, lupus, connective tissues disorders, or blood clotting problems.
Like any other cosmetic surgery, lip augmentation requires a lot of responsibility. You can only determine for yourself if you're ready. We've included the most popular injections and implants here; this information should serve as a general overview only and should not replace your doctor's advice. Once you've selected a doctor, you will communicate with him or her and decide together which option best suits your needs.
Good candidates for lip augmentation are those who have realistic expectations of the outcome. Injections or implants can enhance and improve your natural look, but they're not designed to create a radical change in your appearance.
As with any medical procedure, you should tell your doctor of any allergies or any medications that you are taking, and you will be required to discuss your medical history. Certain conditions or diseases can increase your chances of complications, such as blood clots, diabetes, or poor circulation. If you are a smoker, this may also be a complicating factor.
What Lip Enhancement Can Do
There are many options to improve the appearance of your lips. The methods used may also reduce fine lines and wrinkles around your lips.
What lip augmentation does not do:
Soft tissue augmentation does not stop the aging process. If you wish to change the elements of your face, surgery such as a facelift, brow lift or eyelift may be the answer.
Non-surgical rejuvenation treatments such as injectable fillers cannot achieve the same results, but may help delay the time at which a facelift becomes appropriate.
Preparing for Lip Enhancement
It's important that you have someone with you who can drive you home from the operation. If you are a smoker, you may be required to stop smoking for a period of time before and after the procedure. You should follow your doctor's instructions carefully on this. Make sure you wear loose, comfortable clothing. Be especially mindful of the shirt or blouse you choose to wear that day -- it should be a button down, if possible, so you do not have to pull it over your face.
Lip Enhancement Overview
Your plastic surgeon will carefully evaluate your facial appearance and skin tone, and examine the areas of your face to be augmented with injectable fillers.
Strategic points on your face may be marked as guides to the appropriate injection sites for the dermal filler.
The injection sites will be cleansed with an antibacterial agent and icing or a topical numbing agent may be offered to make more sensitive patients comfortable.
In some cases, the filler itself will contain an anesthetic agent. In other cases local anesthetic may be administered to the treatment site.
Injection takes only a few moments per site and a few minutes for a course of treatment.
Following injection, any markings will be cleansed and icing may be offered to alleviate any temporary, minor discomfort. Makeup may be carefully re-applied so long as care is taken not to apply pressure to the treatment area.
Filling wrinkles or recessed scars involves multiple cosmetic injections. In some cases where deeper injection of fillers is required, a local anesthetic may be used prior to treatment.
Common sites for deeper tissue fillers are the nasolabial folds and marionette lines, or to enhance fullness in the cheeks.
Filler Enhancement Points:
- Line Filling
- Lip Augmentation
- Nasolabial Folds
These are performed on an outpatient basis in your doctor's office or an outpatient center and you will be sent home the same day. Your surgeon may use local anesthesia to make you more comfortable during the injection of the filler. The local anesthetic (pain killer) may be topical (applied to the skin) or injected prior to the procedure.
What it is: Synthetic microbeads of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) suspended in partially denatured Bovine (cow) collagen.
Benefits: More staying power than standard collagen or fat injections.
Drawbacks: Some risk of allergic reaction, due to the use of partially denatured cow collagen.
What it is: This is your own collagen, extracted from your body and sent to a lab outside the hospital where it is processed into an injectable form.
Benefits: Because your own body made the collagen, there's no risk of an allergic reaction to it. However, the effects are temporary, as your body will slowly reabsorb the collagen.
Drawbacks: It requires a surgical procedure to extract the tissue to be sent for processing and a second appointment at a later date for the injection.
What it is: This version of collagen is extracted from cows.
Drawbacks: It's a temporary fix, and can last from as little as four weeks to three months. Use of this product is good if you just want to get an idea of what lip augmentation might be like without having to make a more permanent decision. There is also a risk of allergic reaction. Your surgeon will give you a test dose to check for allergies before treatment can begin.
What it is: This material is extracted from deceased human donors. It's also called injectable Human Tissue Matrix.
Drawbacks: This is also a temporary fix, but your body should not reject it.
What it is: This is tissue that is created from a molecular component of the human body.
Drawbacks: Hylaform is only a temporary fix and repeat treatments are needed.
What it is: This is a clear gel used to increase volume in the lips. It contains hyaluronic acid (a complex sugar naturally found in the body), so there's little chance for an allergic reaction.
Drawbacks: It's biodegradable, so your body will absorb it within about six months of the injection.
What it is: Smooth long lasting dermal gel filler. Like Restylane, Juvaderm is also made of hyaluronic acid.
Benefits: Biosynthetic with little chance of allergic reaction.
Drawbacks: Temporary: Lasts six months to one year.
Implants and Surgeries
You will most likely receive local anesthesia. A procedure can take up to two hours at your doctor's office or outpatient center, depending on the complexity, and you will be sent home the same day.
What it is: This material is a collagen sheet created from deceased humans. Your surgeon will insert these through tiny incisions made on the inside part of the lip. This material offers a temporary fix, lasting up to 12 months.
What it is: Fascia (aka white connective tissue) may be obtained from deceased humans or from your own body and implanted surgically.
Benefits: Your own tissue. Can be relatively long lasting.
Drawbacks: Within about one year of the procedure, your body will reabsorb the fascia.
What it is: This comes from you, too. Your surgeon will usually obtain this from your thighs or abdomen.
Benefits: Again, like Autologen, there is no risk of allergic reaction because it's from you.
Drawback: Requires a surgical procedure to obtain the fat for injection.
What it is: This is the surgical method of inserting your own fat into your lips to achieve the desired fullness.
Benefits: Because it's your own fat, there is into chance of a reaction.
Drawback: Although there is a chance that some of the fat will stay permanently that amount of survival is very unpredictable and the procedure may need to be repeated more than once for the desired effect.
Gore-Tex, SoftForm and Soft ePTFE
What it is: These are white, microporous implants made from the same type of material as Gore-Tex boots and raincoats, but of course a sterile medical grade. ePTFE is a non-reactive, non-toxic polymer that has been used in medical implants throughout the body without ill effects for many, many years.
Benefits: Results are permanent unless the graft is removed.
Local Flap Grafts
What it is: This takes a flap of tissue from the inside of your mouth. It requires a longer incision and sutures inside the mouth.
Lip Enhancement Results
The results of soft tissue augmentation with injectable fillers are not permanent, even though a filler substance may be considered permanent. The continued aging of your face and variables in the absorption of fillers will affect how long your results last.
Should you choose not to repeat treatment, your appearance will return to its original condition. Plumped lips will lose volume and improved wrinkles, creases and scars will visibly recess and fully reappear in time.
Injectable filler results can change over time; as you age naturally, these fillers may shift or clump.
Surgical removal may be necessary to correct these conditions and could result in visible changes in appearance and noticeable changes in the texture of soft tissue.
Recovery After Lip Enhancement
Your recovery will depend on your lifestyle and which procedure you undergo. Most people having injections are fine within a day or two. There might be bruising or swelling however that can last as long as two weeks depending on the type of injection. If you are having surgical implants or grafts, you should plan on it taking two weeks before you will feel comfortable in public. As with any procedure it is recommended that you stop aspirin or any type of blood thinner two weeks prior to treatment to help minimize bruising and swelling.
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 also may not be able to exercise for a few days to a few weeks depending on the type of procedure.
Possible Lip Enhancement Risks
As with any surgery, there are risks and complications. You can experience bleeding that might require going back to surgery to stop the bleeding. There is also a risk of infection that may require antibiotics or implant removal. It's very important that you discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to surgery and that you make your doctor aware of any existing medical conditions that may cause further complications.