Also known as lip injections and lip augmentation
Having full, plump lips is often considered a sign of good health, beauty and youth. Whether you were born with thin lips or your lips are thinning due to the natural aging process, there are many ways to enhance them. Lip injections using natural or synthetic fillers can keep your lips plump for months at a time. Lip implants and other surgical procedures can also be performed for a more permanent solution. Other options include lip lifts, vermillion (lip) advancement and permanent makeup. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful lip enhancement and are pleased with the results.
These are the top three pros and cons to weigh when considering lip enhancement. If you want to focus on what is unique to you, please consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon.
Are you a good candidate for a lip enhancement?
The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider lip enhancement:
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
There are many methods for lip enhancement. Your surgeon will offer you options depending on your aesthetic goals and recovery time frame. It might be appropriate to have two or more of these procedures to achieve the right look for you.
Injections - fat transfer
In fat transfer, autologous fat (fat from your own body) can be taken via liposuction from another area of your body and injected into your lips. Injections may need to be repeated until you get the desired result.
Injections - fillers
Fillers made from natural or synthetic biocompatible material acts as a fat substitute to plump up the lip. One treatment is usually sufficient to produce the desired result. The results, however, may be temporary and require repeat injections.
Surgery - dermal graft
A permanent method of augmenting the lips is accomplished by surgically advancing the lip forward, with incisions placed inside the mouth. A dermal-fat graft, taken from the deeper layers of the skin, may then be positioned under the mucosa (the lining of the lip) to add additional plumpness.
Surgery - vermillion advancement
This procedure involves making an incision along the border of the colored portion of the lips, removing a strip of skin outside the border and then pulling the colored portion to increase the area of the lips.
Surgery - lip implant
Lip implants can be inserted through tiny incisions inside the corners of the mouth. There are many natural or synthetic implant options available. Your surgeon will discuss which option is best for you.
Surgery - lip lift
Removing extra skin and lifting the lips will help those with loose skin or those who have a downward sloping mouth. To increase the upper lip, an incision is made under the nose and the skin is shortened to pull up the lips. Other lift techniques can shorten the upper lip to expose more teeth. To lift a downward turning mouth, small incisions are made on the side of the mouth and the extra skin is removed. Very small sutures are used for this procedure and removed four to five days later.
There are many different options to enlarge or enhance the size and shape of your lips: fat injections, filler injections, dermal grafting, vermillion advancement, lip implants and lip lifting. Injections, grafting, and implants can physically change the plumpness and volume of your lips, while lip lifts and vermillion advancement can change the shape and increase the amount of colored area of your lips.
Find out about each of these methods in How is lip enhancement performed?
Also, many have found that permanent makeup can also help accentuate the lips and increase their visibility without having surgery or applying makeup everyday.
Silicone injections – patient safety warning
Silicone injections are an unsafe and unacceptable option to use as a filler. These injections are not FDA approved and often offered by unlicensed individuals and should be avoided. Always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon, preferably an ASAPS Member, if you have questions about a particular type or brand.
It’s important to choose your surgeon based on:
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to select a surgeon.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area who is experienced in performing lip enhancement, you will need to make an office appointment to set up your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit.
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss what you want to achieve. Your surgeon will evaluate you for lip enhancement. Once the surgeon understands your goals, he or she may suggest additional or related procedures. It is important to be completely honest during the consultation. It’s a good idea to be fully prepared to answer these questions:
Your surgeon may also:
Based on your goals, physical characteristics and the surgeon’s years of training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his/her background, find out about plastic surgery safety and to plan your procedure visit the Planning Toolkit.
We developed these questions to help you:
It is important for you to take an active role in your surgery, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation.
Preparation for lip enhancement will depend on what kind of procedure you and your aesthetic plastic surgeon have agreed upon. Your surgeon will provide thorough preoperative instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
Lip enhancement is usually performed on an outpatient basis. If you are having a surgical procedure, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you at least the first night following surgery.
Injections with fillers and permanent makeup can be performed in the office with little to no downtime and minimal preparation. The surgeon or specialist will prep the area to be treated and may apply numbing cream. The procedure should take less than an hour in most cases, and you will be given instructions to follow once you leave the office
Fat, collagen and other natural or synthetic materials may be injected safely into your lips to add volume.
Surgical lip enhancement
Your lip enhancement procedure may be performed in an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Most procedures take at least thirty minutes to two hours to complete.
You will probably be permitted to go home after a short observation period unless you and your plastic surgeon have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery.
The downtime from nonsurgical options (filler injections and permanent makeup) is minimal. You may experience some bruising or swelling which will subside with time.
Your surgeon will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
Immediately after lip enhancement (surgical)
You will experience postoperative bruising and swelling, with mild to moderate discomfort for a day or two. A cold compress can be applied to the operative site to reduce swelling, bruising and pain. You may be restricted to a liquid-only diet for one or two days. You will most likely be mobile the day of your surgery, but your activities will be restricted.
Recovery time frame
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by your surgeon. This will include information about wearing compression garments, care of your drains if placed, taking an antibiotic if prescribed and the level and type of activity that is safe. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The first two weeks
Week two to eight
How long the results last from your lip enhancement procedure depends on the treatment chosen and your reaction to the treatment.
Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it’s important to return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your facial implants. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
The cost of lip enhancements varies depending on the techniques used, from doctor to doctor, and from one geographic area to another.
These numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments or other miscellaneous costs related to surgery.
Because lip enhancement is an elective procedure, insurance does not cover these costs. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training, and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training, and certifications.
Fortunately, significant complications from lip enhancement are infrequent. This procedure is usually performed without any major problems.
Risks and potential complications of surgery is a subject you should discuss during your consultation. The risks in most surgeries are similar. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your lip enhancement procedure.
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