What’s Lip Augmentation?
Full lips are a sign of youth, health, and beauty. While some people have naturally full lips, others have lips that are very thin. Lips also may become thinner as people age. Those with thin lips, whatever their age, may wish to augment their lips. Some try using lipstick and other makeup tricks to make the lips appear fuller, but this isn’t very effective, and they’re always having to reapply lipstick and worry about it rubbing off. For a more permanent and more effective solution, people may turn to modern medicine. Cosmetic dermatology offers some solutions for those with thin lips; these are fairly quick procedures, but will only last a few months before needing to be done again. For those who want a permanent solution to thin lips, a lip implant procedure can be the answer.
If you’re choosing lip augmentation, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that lip augmentation is right for you, then proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of having a lip augmentation at Lip Augmentation: Risks and Benefits.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective surgery with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the surgeon who will perform your surgery if you decide to proceed.
How it’s done
The procedure is done under general anesthesia. After the anesthesia takes effect, the incision area is cleaned. The incisions for the lip implant are usually made at the corners of the mouth, although other incision locations are possible. After the two incisions are made, the surgeon creates a “tunnel” between the two incisions. This must be done skillfully to ensure that the tunnel is in the precise location that will ensure the best aesthetic effect. When the tunnel has been created, then the lip implant is placed into the tunnel and adjusted to the right location. The lip implant may be made of a nonreactive polymer called Gore-Tex (there are multiple options for the softness of the implant), or made of donated human skin called AlloDerm. Either option is designed with small pores in the surface, so the lip tissue will grow into the implant and hold it in place.
Next, the incisions are closed using several layers of sutures. The outer layer will likely be fine suture if the incision is in a moist area such as the corners of the mouth, but could also be skin adhesive or medical tape in some areas. The patient is then taken to the recovery room.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your surgeon
When choosing a surgeon, you want a highly-trained professional with experience in this type of surgery. A member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has received at least six years of surgical training after medical school, with three of those specifically in plastic surgery. Look for the designation “ASPS” after the surgeon’s name. Also, choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and safe, and who listens to you and tries to understand your goals. If you have friends who’ve had cosmetic surgery, and you like their results, ask for a referral. While cost may be a consideration, don’t allow this to override more important factors in your decision. Your safety and the quality of your results are worth a little extra spending.
For more help in your search for a plastic surgeon, visit our How to Find the Best Facial Plastic Surgeon page. At Doctor Review, you can also search providers for patient reviews to help you find the very best.
Getting ready for surgery
You will have at least one appointment with your surgeon before surgery. You’ll have the chance to discuss your goals with your surgeon in detail, to communicate what aesthetic result you’re aiming for. You may want to bring photos that show people with lips similar to what you want yours to look like.
The day before your surgery, you should eat and drink enough healthy food and water, and get enough sleep the night before. You will need to stop eating 8 to 12 hours before your surgery. If you smoke, you should stop for at least 24 hours before the surgery. If you take daily medications to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin, you will likely be asked to stop those for 24 to 48 hours before the surgery (proceed as directed by your doctor, and don’t stop any medication without talking to your doctor first).
You will stay at the surgical center in the recovery room for several hours following surgery, for the anesthesia to wear off. Then you’ll be discharged to your home, where you’ll need to plan on spending 24 to 48 hours resting and recovering from surgery. You may have a small tube, called a drain, if the surgeon finds this to be necessary to prevent the accumulation of excess fluid. The drains will be removed when your surgeon no longer feels that they’re necessary. You should take care of your small incisions, keeping them clean and covered and watching for signs of infection. Your surgeon will see you for a postoperative appointment a few days after surgery. If sutures were used to close the skin, they’ll likely be removed at this appointment.
While you may return to normal activity within a few days of activity, as directed by your surgeon, you should expect some swelling and soreness for 4 to 6 weeks. The tiny incision sites will gradually fade and will eventually become nearly invisible in most people, though this may take a year or even longer