Over time, our lips gradually begin to lose volume, causing them to become thinner and lose their shapely contour. As the upper and lower lips thin, this can cause an older-looking appearance, even making some individuals look angry. Lip enhancement, also called lip augmentation, can be an effective solution for restoring the natural plumpness of the lips.
The procedure can involves surgical and/or non-surgical techniques to enhance the lips depending on your unique needs. Materials used to enhance the lips can be either temporary or permanent. These materials include Restylane®, Alloderm™, fat transfer and alloplastic implants (synthetic materials). Nearly all of these choices result in lip enhancement with an overall soft, natural feeling.
Temporary Lip Enhancement
Temporary treatments take minutes to perform and can be done in a simple office visit. Dermal filler injectables like Restylane® can be used to enhance the lips, with or without an anesthetic. Patients can expect results to last about six to nine months on average, at which time they can choose to return for follow-up treatments.
Permanent Lip Enhancement
For permanent lip enhancement, Dr. Hilinski utilizes medical-grade implant materials that have been proven to be safe and reliable. A local anesthetic is typically used to numb the area, and for most patients, the incisions are made in the corners of the mouth to easily be concealed. Fat transfer is another viable option for long-lasting enhancement. This treatment also involves the use of a local anesthetic to maximize patient comfort. Fat is harvested from one area and transferred into the lips through tiny incisions.
The latest advancement in permanent lip enhancement procedures is the Surgisil PermaLip™ silicone implant. Unlike its predecessors, the PermaLip™ implant is made of a softer, tapered silicone material that gently but effectively augments the natural size and shape of your lips. The PermaLip™ implant was designed with a smooth, non-porous surface that allows gentle placement into the lip. The implant will not rupture or lose any volume after placement, which was a concern with some other forms of permanent lip augmentation.
Swelling and bruising are rare after Restylane® treatment, but may be more pronounced following permanent enhancement. These side effects may last for three to seven days.
Whichever path you choose, lip enhancement can help to restore the gentle curves and supple appearance characteristic of attractive, youthful lips. If you have any additional questions, please see our frequently asked questions about lip enhancement below or contact us to schedule your consultation.
Lip Enhancement FAQs
Q – What is lip enhancement?
Lip enhancement, also known as lip augmentation, is an office-based procedure using a variety of surgical and non-surgical techniques to enhance the appearance of the upper and lower lips. Materials used to enhance the lips can be either temporary or permanent and include Restylane®, fat transfer and the Ful-Fil® Lip Implant. Patients may seek lip enhancement with a desire for fuller, more shapely lips or to address unwanted vertical lines and wrinkles around the lips known as smoker’s lines. Lip enhancement can improve the appearance of deflated or excessively thin lips resulting from age which may make a person appear sad, angry or old.
Q – Who is a good candidate for lip enhancement?
Individuals desiring fuller, more shapely lips may be good candidates for lip enhancement. Patients may seek lip enhancement to improve lips which have deflated or thinned with age. Some patients desire more volume along the red portion of the lip as well as a more defined vermillion border (the junction of the red lip and white lip). Other patients are seeking additional augmentation around the vermillion to address unwanted vertical lines and wrinkles, termed smoker’s lines.
Q – What is Restylane?
Restylane® is the most popular injectable filler that is used for temporary lip enhancement. Because it appears smooth and natural when placed under the superficial skin, it is a great option for adding volume to the lips and surrounding area. With the ability to place Restylane® just below the lip and skin surface, even finer lines and wrinkles can be effectively erased in one simple office-based procedure. The soft and natural appearing enhancement that is seen with Restylane® augmentation of the lip will last an average of six to nine months.
Q – What is fat transfer?
Fat transfer is another option for lip augmentation which involves harvesting excess fat from areas such as the abdomen or thigh and placing it within the lip. Much like temporary fillers, fat injections into the lip can provide volume enhancement and a more shapely, feminine lip contour. In many cases, lip enhancement with fat can provide a permanent result. However, because some fat that is transferred will inevitably be absorbed to varying degrees, a series of fat injections is often required to achieve the desired level of augmentation.
Q – What is the Ful-Fil Implant?
The Ful-Fil® Lip Implant is the latest advancement in permanent lip enhancement procedures. Unlike previous permanent lip implants made of a soft but more solid Goretex sleeve, the Ful-Fil® Lip Implant is softer with a more natural feel. The implant is unique in that it is saline-filled, much like breast implants. This allows for a softer, more natural feeling and appearing implant. The Ful-Fil® Lip Implant does have a very thin Goretex coating which allows the implant to stay in place. Insertion of the Ful-Fil® Lip Implant is performed in the office with local anesthesia and takes as little as thirty minutes to augment the upper and lower lip. A cutting-edge advancement in permanent lip augmentation, Dr. Hilinski was the first plastic surgeon in San Diego to successfully perform the procedure.
Q – Where is the lip enhancement procedure performed?
Lip enhancement procedures are typically performed in the office setting.
Q – What type of anesthesia is used for lip enhancement?
The type of anesthesia used for lip enhancement will depend upon the particular technique. Restylane® lip enhancement can be performed with topical anesthesia with or without a nerve block. Fat transfer to the lip and permanent lip enhancement require a nerve block with local anesthesia.
Q – How is the lip enhancement procedure performed?
Restylane® lip enhancement is done by injecting the upper and lower lip with the desired amount of filler to enhance the natural contour of the red and white lip. One must be careful to enhance the upper and lower lip with a sufficient amount of Restylane® to achieve a balanced look. For fat transfer, excess fat is harvested through a small incision made in the planned donor area, such as the abdomen or thigh. The harvested fat is cleansed and concentrated and then injected into the lips. For the Ful-fil® permanent lip implant, hidden incisions are made inside the corner of the mouth. A tunnel is then made in the upper and lower lip from one side to the other and the implant is placed through the tunnel. Because the Ful-Fil® lip implant has the advantage of being filled with a saline solution, the implants can be either underfilled or overfilled depending on how much change is being requested by the patient. Once filled, the implant is secured in place by closing the incisions with fine sutures.
Q – How long does the lip enhancement procedure take to perform?
Lip enhancement usually takes less than 15 to 30 minutes to complete.
Q – Where are the incisions made for lip enhancement?
Incisions are not require for Restylane® lip enhancement. For fat transfer, only tiny nicks in the skin are made to both harvest the fat and place it within the lip. Permanent lip enhancement usually involves hidden incisions made in the corners of the mouth.
Q – Are there scars after lip enhancement?
Restylane® does not involve incisions and, thus, will not result in scars. The incisions for fat transfer are only tiny nicks in the skin which are imperceptible after surgery. For permanent lip enhancement, the incisions and resulting scars are usually well-concealed inside the corners of the mouth.
Q – Is lip enhancement a painful procedure?
There is typically minimal pain or discomfort associated with lip enhancement.
Q – What is the recovery like after lip enhancement?
In our experience, a very small percentage of patients will develop bruising or swelling at the Restylane treatment site lasting beyond twenty-four hours. Swelling and bruising are slightly more pronounced following fat transfer to the lip and placement of the Ful-Fil® lip implant. This may last for upwards of three to seven days, after which patients are considered publicly presentable. Most patients are instructed to minimize use of the lips and mouth for several days (Restylane®) to several weeks (fat transfer and lip implant) in order to maximize the results of the procedure. Work and other normal activities can typically be resumed within twenty-four hours after Restylane® enhancement and within three to seven days after fat transfer or permanent lip augmentation.
Q – When will I be able to return to work after undergoing lip enhancement?
Most patients are able to return to work and other normal activities within twenty-four hours following Restylane® enhancement and within three to seven days following fat transfer or permanent lip augmentation.
Q – When will I be able to exercise after my lip enhancement procedure?
Patients are usually able to resume aerobic exercise within twenty-four hours after Restylane® treatment and within three to seven days after fat transfer and permanent lip augmentation procedures.
Q – When are the stitches removed after the lip enhancement procedure?
Absorbable sutures are usually used inside of the lips with lip implant procedures and need not be removed.
Q – Are there risks or complications with lip enhancement?
As with all types of surgery, there are potential risks associated with lip enhancement. In rare cases, Restylane® can result in slight lumping in the lip which can usually be addressed successfully with frequent massage and/or hyaluronidase to melt away the unwanted areas of filler. Fat transfer can also result in slight lumping if the fat cells become grouped together in one area. This usually responds well to massage and/or steroid injections to restore a more natural smooth contour. In some cases, the fat will begin to slowly reabsorb after time, prompting the need for additional fat transfer treatments or an alternative lip enhancement procedure. With regard to permanent lip enhancement, there is the potential that the implant will not be tolerated by your body’s tissue, resulting in having the implant removed. Unwanted movement or migration of the implant is also possible, though less likely if precautions are followed after the procedure.
Q – Does insurance cover the lip enhancement procedure?
Lip enhancement procedures which are performed for cosmetic purposes are typically not covered by insurance. However, patients should be sure to check with their own insurer.
Q – How long do the results of lip enhancement last?
The results of Restylane® augmentation last an average of six to nine months. In many cases, lip enhancement with fat transfer can provide a permanent result, though a series of injections if often required to achieve the desired level of augmentation. In some cases, the fat will begin to slowly reabsorb after time, prompting the need for additional fat transfer treatments or an alternative lip enhancement procedure. The Ful-Fil® lip implant provides permanent results.
Dr. John Hilinski has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.