Lip Augmentation Overview

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Lip augmentation, also called lip enhancement, can be the solution to thin, unattractive lips. Distinctive lips make an impression. Movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson are known for their sensuous looking lips. Cosmetic companies have capitalized on the popularity of plump lips by offering products that promise to make lips appear to be bigger and sultrier. But with cosmetic surgery, your thin lips can be turned into plump lips for real.

In lip augmentation, synthetic or biological materials are implanted into the lips to make them more physically appealing. Lip enhancement surgery can create a greater sense of facial balance for someone whose lips are not well defined.

For some people, lip enhancement may not be enough to achieve a nice balance for your face. Your nose, chin, and lips should have an aesthetically pleasing relationship to each other and the rest of your face. For instance, did you know that the corners of your mouth are usually the same distance apart as the pupils of your eyes?

Many people who want to change their look through lip enhancement surgery may undergo other procedures as well, such as chin implant, cheek implant or a nose job. You may also need some skin resurfacing treatments if you have tiny vertical furrows around your mouth. A cosmetic surgeon will be able to examine your face to determine which procedures are needed to achieve the desired effect.

There are several techniques used in lip enhancement or augmentation. Some of them are more invasive than others; some are actually surgeries. Some types of lip enhancement consist of injections of various types of filler materials. The results of these injections generally do not last. There are several types of injectable filler and most of them are broken down in the body within several months. This happens faster in some people than in others, but injections of filler must be repeated on a regular basis for most people. Although you may want to avoid the surgical options in favor of the injections, you should understand that lip augmentation surgery may be less expensive in the long run when you factor in the number of repeat injections you may need.

Most lip augmentation procedures are performed in a doctors office. However, if lip augmentation is to be performed at the same time as other cosmetic surgery procedures, it may be done in a hospital or freestanding surgical clinic.

Lip augmentation is a cosmetic procedure. A health insurance company will rarely pay for any cosmetic procedure. This means that you will be responsible for all the costs and fees associated with the procedure. Financing is available, however.

Common Lip Shape Problems 

Lips are a bit like fingerprints in that no two pairs are alike and therefore no two people have the same problems with their lips. Most people who are thinking about a lip enhancement procedure want fuller lips that are smooth, plump, wrinkle-free and youthful looking.

Here is a little information about lip anatomy. The muscle that surrounds the mouth is the orbicularis oris muscle. The surface of the lips themselves and the inside of the lips is a tissue called mucosa.  The edge of the lips, where the mucosa of the lips meets the regular skin of the face, is rather artistically called the vermillion border. The shape of a normal upper lip, which usually has two peaks just under the nose, is called the cupids bow. 

Some common lip problems that affect many people include:

Thin, flat lips: Here, the lips are thin and have no fullness or definition. Often, the upper lip is a straight line with no cupids bow. Thin lips are usually the result of your genes, but smoking can be a contributing factor. As people get older, lip tissue tends to break down and the lips become thinner, which is one reason we think of fuller lips as being younger lips.

No upper lip: In this case, the upper lip is significantly thinner than the lower lip. A small upper lip may be also the remainder of a cleft lip that was corrected in childhood. Augmentation can be done on the upper lip alone. There is also a surgical procedure called a lip lift that can be done alone or combined with augmentation to create a fuller upper lip.

No bottom lip: Occasionally, the lower lip is significantly thinner than the upper lip, but it is rare. Augmentation of the lower lip can correct this and produce natural-looking results.

Irregular border: On some people, the right side of the lip is larger or smaller than the left side. This may occur on the upper lip, the lower lip or both. For this case, augmentation of the deficient portion of the lip is recommended. Other people may have an irregular border due to scarring or injury, or as the remainder of a childhood repair of a cleft lip. A good cosmetic surgeon can correct this either with lip augmentation or other procedures.

Lips that are too large: Although most customers for lip enhancement are looking for bigger lips, there are those who feel their lips are too big. Lips that are too large can be a result of a congenital problem or heredity. Rarely, a too large or drooping lip may be caused by trauma. Very prominent lips are a feature associated with some ethnicities. If your lips are too large, you can undergo a lip reduction surgery. This surgery can adjust a drooping or hanging lower lip for a more appealing look or reduce the size of both lips. If your lips are too large due to previous lip augmentation or other surgery, the corrective measures will depend largely on the original procedure. In this case, you should consult with your surgeon to determine a treatment plan.

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Are You A Candidate For Lip Enhancement?

Lip augmentation is growing in popularity. In 2006, more than 25,000 people underwent lip augmentation surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, but this does not count the types of augmentation that used only injectable fillers. This figure is up from nearly 19,000 lip augmentation procedures in 2000. The society keeps track of the number of procedures using injectable fillers, but does not break down the statistics to show how many times the procedure was performed on the lips.

You must think seriously before you have lip augmentation or any other cosmetic surgery. You must be in good physical health, which will reduce the chance of complications, and be in good mental health. You have to have realistic expectations about what lip augmentation can do for you. It can change your appearance, but it cannot change other things in your life.

If you have taken the following medications or have the following diseases or conditions, you may not be a good candidate for lip enhancement:

  • Accutane use in the 6 months before the procedure. Accutane can increase chances of excessive scarring
  • Any connective tissue disorders or a history of poor scarring
  • Lupus erythematosus. Bovine or porcine collagen, as well as other products, may cause flare-ups of lupus
  • Any active diseases that can affect outcome or increase risks, such as heart disease or asthma
  • A history of allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Problems with clotting
  • Poor dental health, especially dental abscesses or excessive plaque
  • Oral herpes

The healing process can be difficult. You may go through a short period where your lips are swollen and look too large. For most types of lip enhancement, the treatment must be repeated on a regular basis for the best results. You should discuss the desired results of lip augmentation with the surgeon to ensure the goals can be attained through surgery. Looking at before-and-after lip augmentation photos can help both you and your doctor agree on how you want to look after lip augmentation surgery.

Visit the Resource Center to stay abreast of the latest news, trends and breakthroughs in cosmetic plastic surgery.

Supplementing Lip Augmentation with Cosmetic Dentistry

It is not uncommon to supplement a facial procedure like lip augmentation with one or more additional facial procedures in order to achieve optimal aesthetics. For example, the addition of cosmetic dental treatments such as tooth bleaching, Lumineers, Invisalign, cosmetic bonding or other smile makeover procedures, can enhance your lip augmentation results. Depending on the extent of your smile makeover, one or more dentists may be involved in your treatment.

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