Full, well defined lips are considered a sign of youthfulness and beauty. Enhancing the lips is a great way to instantly make someone’s face appear more balanced and attractive. Lip augmentation is a common procedure performed in the office, and several different options exist for patients. Sometimes, patients seek out lip enhancement as they feel their lips are too thin or asymmetrical due to genetics or aging. Depending on the individual patient and unique concerns, we may recommend filler injections or possibly a surgical procedure.
The most requested and least expensive (short-term) option for enhancing the lips is with injectable hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane, or Belotero. These fillers create more volume in the lips without the patient having to undergo surgery. As well, the results are instant, with the patient leaving the office with fuller, more defined lips. I typically use an advanced injection procedure called the cannula technique which utilizes a blunt-tipped instrument, and causes less trauma to the facial soft tissues. Patients prefer this method as it is much less painful than with normal needles, and bruising is significantly lessened. Another advantage of this technique is that it typically requires a single injection port. Instead of using a sharp needle to puncture the lip in multiple locations, a small entrance point is made at the corner of the lip, and the product is injected for an immediately fuller, yet natural look with little to no downtime. This technique is more effective in attaining a smoother fill with minimal time commitment by the patient. Fillers give excellent results, but only last about six to nine months in most cases. Therefore, while it is effective and cheaper than surgery in the short run, if the patient has to undergo repeat injections every several months, they will end up paying more than a surgical procedure after several treatments.
Surgical lip augmentation is recommended for anyone who desires to have permanently fuller lips. A patient with extremely thin lips or a long upper lip may desire to have a more balanced facial appearance. I generally suggest the “V -Y” lip augmentation to younger patients who want to avoid repeat filler treatments and to older patients who desire to add volume to aged, thin lips. This procedure is performed by making incisions on the inside of the lip (with no external incisions or scars) in the shape of a “V” and advancing the shape into the form of a “Y”, by rolling the “red lip” out to create more definition and volume. The V-Y procedure does not utilize an implant, and works to push out the patient’s own lip to increase the amount of external lip show and definition. This procedure can be performed on the upper and lower lips, and is associated with a period of downtime, but ultimately creates a more natural look and feel compared to implants and fat transfers. Other effective surgical options for lip augmentation include SMAS lip grafting (normally performed as part of a facelift), dermal fat grafting, and the sub nasal lip lift, which shortens the upper “white lip,” resulting in a couple of millimeters of tooth show that is lost through the aging process.
Since every patient has different goals and expectations, I always suggest consulting with a double board certified facial plastic surgeon who is thoroughly trained and experienced with lip enhancement procedures and surgery prior to undergoing any procedure.
Post Provided by Benjamin Stong MD