Guide to Lip Enhancement
Lip enhancement includes a suite of procedures that add or restore volume to the lips and smooth vertical lines around the lips and mouth. While surgical procedures, such as lip implants, remain an option, cosmetic surgeons are increasingly using minimally invasive treatments to achieve very natural-looking results that can last for up to 1 year or longer. Learn more about your options to get the youthful, plump lips you desire:
- Why consider lip enhancement?
- What are my treatment options?
- Choosing a provider for lip enhancement
Why consider lip enhancement?
If you are bothered by the appearance of thin, lined or asymmetrical lips, cosmetic treatments can address your concerns and help you feel more confident in your smile. Specific changes that a skilled cosmetic surgeon can make through lip enhancement include:
- Restore volume to thin or aging lips
- Smooth vertical lip lines
- Improve symmetry between the upper and lower lip
- Refine the shape of thin or flat lips
What are my treatment options?
Cosmetic surgeons use a variety of approaches to help patients improve their lip appearance, ranging from temporary filler injections to lip implant surgery. Many patients choose to start with a temporary treatment and later progress to a longer-lasting treatment.
Dermal Filler Lip Injections
Hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Juvéderm and Restylane products, are a popular non-surgical option, offering temporary lip enhancement at an affordable cost. When administered by an experienced provider, dermal fillers can last 4 to 12 months and achieve soft, natural-looking results. Depending on the product, fillers can boost lip volume, enhance lip shape, and smooth vertical lip lines (perioral rhytids).
Benefits of dermal lip fillers
- Treatments take only 15 to 30 minutes
- A skilled cosmetic surgeon can adjust the amount of filler used to achieve results with precision
- Little to no downtime is needed
- Improvements are usually noticeable immediately after treatment
- Results are final within 2 weeks
- Side effects are typically mild and include temporary bruising, swelling or redness at the injection site. Serious complications are extremely rare when treatment is performed by a qualified provider
- Treatments must be repeated periodically to maintain results
- Beautiful, natural results require a provider with immense skill and experience
- A very small percentage of patients may be allergic to ingredients in manufactured fillers
What fillers are used in the lips?
There are a number of dermal filler brands to choose from when it comes to lip augmentation. Here are a few of the most established lip fillers and their specific applications:
- Restylane Silk is used for both lip augmentation and vertical lines above the lips
- Juvéderm Ultra XC is great for plumping the lips
- Juvéderm Volbella XC is used for perioral, or “lipstick,” lines and mild plumping of the lips
Autologous fat injections, also called fat grafting, use fat from another part of your body as a lip filler. Fat grafting typically involves liposuction surgery on a different area of the body, and the procedure can be done without incisions on the face or lips. Fat injections should only be performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon with specialized training in fat transfer procedures. With such a provider, fat injections can achieve a beautiful augmented lip contour that looks and feels very natural and last for years.
Benefits of fat injections for the lips
- Fat looks and feels very natural in the lips
- Results can last for many years; once final results are achieved, you should not need to repeat treatment
- Risk of allergic reaction is close to zero
- No incisions are needed in the lips
- Fat injections require a surgical component
- A safe procedure and beautiful, natural results require a specially trained, highly experienced cosmetic surgeon
- Several days of downtime may be required, depending on the extent of liposuction performed
- Some injected fat may not survive in its new location, possibly requiring additional treatment to achieve the desired result
- Unsatisfactory results can be difficult to reverse (prevent this by choosing a qualified cosmetic surgeon)
Lip implants can achieve a semi-permanent lip enhancement for those desiring a more lasting solution with minimal maintenance. Implants are made from a soft, pliable silicone rubber or biodegradable substance and are best for patients desiring a noticeable increase in lip volume.
Experienced cosmetic surgeons typically perform lip implant surgery using local anesthesia, inserting implants through tiny incisions hidden in the corners of the mouth.
Benefits of lip implants
- Results can last for many years
- When performed by a skilled cosmetic surgeon, lip implant surgery can take less than 30 minutes to perform and leave virtually undetectable scars
- Most patients require only 1 to 3 days of downtime
- A safe procedure and beautiful results require a highly experienced, qualified cosmetic surgeon
- Another surgery is required to remove lip implants
- Implants are not effective for smoothing fine lip lines
- All surgery carries some risk, including infection and bleeding
Choosing a provider for lip enhancement
The most important decision you will make when considering lip enhancement is who will perform your procedure. Always check a provider’s credentials before agreeing to treatment. Choosing a cosmetic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is a good place to start; ABCS diplomates have undergone a minimum of 1 to 2 years of cosmetic surgery training post-residency and exclusively operate in accredited surgical facilities (learn why this is important).
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If you are considering dermal fillers, choose a provider with an extensive knowledge of facial anatomy and a surgeon’s skill and precision. Even non-surgical procedures require specific training and skill to ensure safe treatment and natural-looking results. If an R.N. or physician’s assistant will be performing filler injections, that person should be working closely under the supervision of a qualified physician, preferably a board certified cosmetic surgeon.