Types of Lip Augmentation

If you have thin lips and are interested in lip augmentation, there are several types of augmentation to choose from. These include injectable fillers, lip implants, and lip augmentation surgery.

Temporary Injectable Fillers: These are products that are injected into the lips to create a fuller appearance, but which are eventually absorbed by the body. The results of lip filler injections typically last from a few weeks to several months. The most common types of lip injection filler are collagen and fat that is transferred from elsewhere in your body. The treatment is performed in a doctors office with local anesthesia.

Collagen, a natural protein in the body,  is made from animal sources and an allergic reaction is possible. Other products that are used in lip augmentation include hyaluronic acid (Restylane and Perlane), and calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiance).

Allergic reactions are possible with almost any injectable filler. You may be asked to undergo a pretreatment allergy test several days to a few weeks before your lip augmentation.

Usually, just one session of lip injections will give you the results you want, but proper placement of the injections is important. Any type of injection carries a tiny risk of infection. Complications include uneven placement, lumpiness, or lips that look too puffy and large. But, as with good results, bad results are temporary, too. Temporary fillers can be a good way to experiment with fuller-looking lips. If you dont like how it looks, you dont do it again.

Injectable Microimplants: These products are made from a variety of substances, such as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).  They are injected into the lips to create a fuller appearance and the results are usually permanent or at least very long-lasting. However, the majority of microimplant products have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while some are FDA-approved, but not for cosmetic use or not for use in the lips. One brand approved for cosmetic use on the face is Artefill. However, an approved product legally can be used in any way a physician sees fit. Be cautious about these materials and get as much information about them as possible.

Some surgeons are injecting tiny amounts of silicone oil into the lips to plump them. A few types of silicone oil are approved for injection into the body, but others are not, and none are approved for cosmetic use. There is no long-term information on whether the silicone oil stays in place or migrates.

Injectable Biocatalysts: These are products that are supposed to cause the body to increase formation of collagen or other tissue. One such substance is poly-L-acetic acid, which has been used for decades in sutures and other medical products. The results, which take time to develop, appear to be long lasting. One brand of injectable biocatalyst is Sculptra.

Synthetic Lip Implants: These products are solid strips that are implanted under the surface of the lips to expand them. One commonly used type of lip implant is made from expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). The most common brand name is Gore-Tex, the same material as that used in raincoats. With lip implants, the surgeon makes a tiny incision at each corner of the lip and a special instrument is passed the length of the lip from one incision to the other. The implant is then grasped by the instrument and pulled through to the other end of the lip. The results remain until the lip implants are removed. The procedure is minor surgery, but there is the risk of infection. If an infection occurs, the implants must be removed.

Tissue-derived Implants: These implants are made from materials are harvested from human donor cadavers. The tissue is sterilized and processed into thin sheets and a thin strip is implanted into the lips in the same way as a synthetic implant. Unlike synthetic implants, these implants break down eventually and are absorbed by the body. These implants may last up to 2 years, but usually the results are visible for up to 9 months.

Lip lift and lip reduction: Both of these are surgical procedures to change the shape of the lip. A lip lift can be performed on the upper lip in addition to lip augmentation or instead of it. If you have an upper lip that covers your teeth almost completely, a lip lift can give you a better smile and improve your appearance since it also rotates the upper lip outward slightly, causing more of the pink part of the lip to show. In a lip lift, an incision the width of the nose is made directly below the nose. A thin strip of tissue and skin is removed. The incision is closed, which pulls the lip up and rotates it outward very slightly. When healed, the scar will be inconspicuous. The procedure, done under local anesthesia, takes about 90 minutes and stitches are usually removed in about a week.

People who have overly large or prominent lips can opt for lip reduction. Lip reduction surgery involves an incision just inside the lip that is almost the width of the mouth. A thin slice of mucosa and underlying tissue is removed and the incision is closed, pulling the lip inward and reducing the size of the lips. It can be done on either lip alone or on both lips. This is also performed under local anesthesia

For both surgeries, the risks are similar to those seen with other cosmetic surgery, such as infection, excessive bleeding, or asymmetrical results.

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