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If you haven’t noticed, lips have taken center stage these days as more and more people are after that perfect celebrity pout. Lip augmentation is one of the most prominent cosmetic treatments, with around 2.6 million people in 2018 using soft tissue fillers and 30,000 people having a lip-plumping surgical procedure. So, what are your options to get the lips you want?
It really all depends on what your goals are and what type of procedure you are willing to undergo. Extra youthful, vibrant lips are most often achieved with injections or fat grafting to the lips. However, implants and surgical procedures are also available.
Using small needles, the upper and lower lips are filled with a soft compound to produce a fuller look. The most popular substance is hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally produced substance in the human body. Injectable hyaluronic acid comes in several name brands such as JUVÉDERM® or Restylane®. This type of injectable can come in varying levels of stiffness so that it can be used to add a subtle, soft enhancement or make a more noticeable pout.
This technique of lip augmentation uses BOTOX® Cosmetic, an injectable neuromodulator muscle relaxer. These injections are placed in the upper lip to help the muscles relax, allowing the muscles to roll slightly upward and reveal more of the lip. This results in the appearance of more volume and definition in the upper lip. Full results can take up to a week to be noticed, and results last three to four months.
Fat that is gathered from other locations of the body—generally the abdomen or thighs—can also be injected into the lips. One excellent benefit of this procedure is that there is no possibility of an allergic reaction, as it is your own tissue being used. This is also an in-office procedure usually performed under local anesthesia. The method requires a small incision through which a cannula is used to harvest the fat under negative pressure. The fat is then purified and transferred to your lips through small incisions. Patients return home the same day of the procedure and can quickly resume their normal daily activities. The advantage of fat grafting to the lips over hyaluronic acid fillers is that fat grafting can last for five years or longer compared to the one year average of hyaluronic acid fillers.
This type of lip augmentation is like fat grafting; however, the dermis of your skin is used as opposed to harvesting fat with a cannula. This type of in-office procedure can be done by resecting a piece of skin or a scar and removing the top-most part of the skin called the epidermis. What is left is the deeper part of the skin that creates the thickness of the skin called the dermis. This part of the skin can be transferred to the lips under local anesthesia, and the results can last about five years or longer. This type of augmentation is best for people who have a scar that can be used—such as a c-section scar—to avoid creating any new scars or for anyone undergoing a procedure where excess skin will be removed at the end of the procedure.
This is a permanent option that uses soft and flexible silicone tubes that are tapered at each end to provide a permanent fullness to the lips. The implants come in various sizes to best suit the size of your lips, which will be discussed during your consultation. While the implants are permanent, they can easily be removed should you decide you no longer want to have them. The removal process is easily done in the office through small incisions in the lips as there is no tissue growth with the implants. Once the implants are removed, your lips will return to their original size.
This is the most invasive of the options, but it is a good choice for anyone who no longer wishes to get lip fillers or doesn’t like the idea of permanent implants. This surgery is also done under local anesthesia in our office. The procedure involves removing a small strip of tissue under the nose, where the resulting scar will be hidden in the folds just below the nose. This helps to bring back that youthful appearance of fuller lips, especially in people who have longer philtral columns or the two lines that run from the base of your nose to the cupids bow of your lips. The sutures typically remain for about a week, and the scarring can be covered with foundation within about two weeks. The resulting scar fades with time and could eventually need no foundation covering at all.
In the classical definitions of female proportions, the female face has philtral columns that are 11 to 13 mm in length, but as we age, this area elongates due to the laxity of the tissues. This area of the face can elongate by one to three millimeters every decade past your twenties.
This procedure does come with risks, including bleeding, infection, and unsatisfactory scarring. All potential complications should be discussed with your surgeon before moving forward.
After the procedure, the mid face is shortened, and the upper lip has a more vertical appearance, which can put proportions back to how they were when you were younger.
If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your lip augmentation options, you can use the Schedule Appointment button in the top right or call 512-764-9076 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Pearce.