Full, pouty lips are associated with youth, vibrancy, and attractiveness, but not everyone is born with them. What is one to do? Clever use of lipstick and lip liner can broaden thin lips but cannot really add any depth. Therefore many turn to lip augmentation to give their lips a fuller look with extra dimension.
There is more than one way to undergo lip augmentation and deciding on which procedure is right for you takes a bit of homework. Each procedure can vary greatly in terms of cost, how long the result lasts, how invasive the procedure is, and how lengthy the recovery process is. Lip augmentation procedures are split into two main categories, injectable materials or implants. There are many injectable materials ranging from collagen to the patient’s own fat, but each of these only lasts a certain amount of time before it is broken down by the body. Alternatively, lip implants are very long-lasting but require a more invasive, surgical approach and are generally more expensive.
Various injectable lip augmentation materials have been used with good results. Perhaps the best-known material is collagen, which is a protein that occurs naturally in our bodies. The collagen that is injected during lip augmentation is a highly purified collagen that is usually derived either from human or bovine (cow) tissue. The duration of effect for collagen lip augmentation is relatively short—nine to twelve weeks—but may be chosen by patients who do not want to commit to the fuller lip look. Collagen lip augmentation can be performed in one patient visit and produces very favorable results.
Longer-lasting lip augmentation
Fat can be taken from other places in the body, cleaned and purified, and then injected into the lips for longer-lasting lip augmentation. The procedure is much more involved than collagen or other foreign substance injections and is usually more expensive. While autologous fat transfer (as the procedure is called) lasts longer than collagen injections, the procedure is more likely to cause lumps or clumping of the fats cells within the lip. Scarring is also more likely with injected fat lip augmentation. Unlike collagen, fat injections are not associated with an allergic reaction since the material is taken from the patient’s own body.
Other injectable materials used for lip augmentation include hyaluronic acid, hydroxyapatite, human tissue matrix, and dermal implants from the patient’s own skin. Not every surgeon performs all of these types of injections so it may be difficult to determine which procedure to choose. In general, material taken from the patient’s body is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than the material from other sources. Also, a material derived from a human source is less allergenic than animal derived material. Allergy testing should be performed before any foreign material is injected into the body.
Lip implants are becoming a more popular form of lip augmentation. These plastic or rubber implants are essentially permanent (unless they are removed) and newer materials look and feel more natural than older implants. Remember that most lip implants are essentially permanent. Also, with any implant, infection is possible (though rare). Lip implants are usually placed under local anesthesia and people can go home soon after surgery. Lip implants can be combined with other surgeries that increase the visible portion of the lip; however, these surgeries may require general anesthesia and longer recovery time.