Sensuous, full lips are a hallmark of youthful beauty. Unfortunately, we’re not all born with them. Those lacking the pout they desire can undergo a cosmetic plumping through lip enhancement. The lips are one of the most mobile and expressive regions of the face, and only select materials should be used to enhance lip fullness without risking an unnatural appearance, infection, extrusion, or permanent deformities. The double-board certified facial plastic surgeon performs treatments out of his practice, Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery in Austin, Texas.
What is Lip Enhancement?
Lip enhancement is performed as either a temporary or permanent solution to lips that may be small, wrinkled, or asymmetrical in their appearance. The procedure is typically considered an elective cosmetic solution for enhancing the lips, but it may also be part of lip reconstruction due to facial trauma, disease, or deformity. Lip enhancement is more common in women, though some men opt to undergo this procedure. It can be modified to ensure an optimized feminine or masculine appearance, depending on a patient’s preferences.
*Each patient is unique and individual results may vary.
Temporary and Permanent Lip Enhancement Procedures
Dr. Buckingham offers several options for lip enhancement. A popular temporary option among patients is injectable collagen replacement therapy, also known as dermal fillers. The materials most often used are JUVÉDERM® and Restylane®, which have been deemed safe to use by the FDA for aesthetic procedures. The formulations are not composed of collagen but rather hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in the body. This ingredient attracts water molecules to create a lifting effect of the injection site. Lip injections can be performed during an office visit after the initial doctor-patient consultation. Patients should be aware that collagen replacement therapy requires repeat treatments about every 6 months to maintain the desired results.
A permanent alternative to lip augmentation can be performed through the placement of a SurgiSil Perma Facial Implant. This minimally invasive procedure creates the patient’s desired fullness by surgically placing a silicone implant into the lips. Typically, incisions are hidden inside the mouth or at the corners of the lips, and the implant can be surgically removed at any time. Some patients recognize that other implants in plastic surgery are at risk of rupture, such as those placed during breast augmentation. The Perma Facial Implant will not rupture or become deflated in appearance as it is a semi-solid, nonporous implant that does not contain any liquid or gel in its interior. The material is available in a variety of shapes and sizes and has the ability to provide a wide array of results among patients.
How is Lip Enhancement Performed?
Patients who opt to undergo a temporary lip augmentation can visit Austin’s Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery by appointment to undergo a series of lip injections. Dr. Buckingham and his expert aesthetic nurse injectors will work to determine the best placement of the product to create results the patient is seeking. Typically, the border and rosy-colored portion of the lips are injected. While JUVÉDERM® tends to be smooth in texture, Restylane® is more granular and can actually be molded in the lips. The area is numbed with the use of injectable nerve blocks and/or topical anesthetic. Next, the injections are administered to the lips until the desired size and contour are reached. It can take about a week for the lips to take on their permanent shape and size after swelling has subsided.
Surgical lip enhancement may also begin by the doctor marking the treatment site and administering a local anesthetic and mild sedative, if necessary. The doctor will then create an incision at one corner of the mouth and use surgical instruments to create a tunnel along the wet-dry border of the lips, performing the same step on the other side of the mouth as well. The implant can then be inserted with a special SurgiSil instrument and massaged into place. Sutures will then close the lip incisions. The Perma Facial Implant can be placed in the upper lip, lower lip, or both for the desires results, and it can be adjusted in its length. The diameter of the implant are 3mm, 4mm, or 5mm. It can take two weeks to several months to heal. from the surgery, after which patients will not experience issues speaking, eating, or moving their lips in any way.
Lip Enhancement Recovery
Temporary Lip Fillers
Most patients experience minimal pain and bruising after undergoing a lip injection treatment with JUVÉDERM® or Restylane®. Recovery time can vary, but typically it will be one day until the patient can move the lips normally, though discoloration and puffiness may remain up to one week. Though rare, hyaluronic acid solutions can cause minor reactions of the injection site which may last up to two weeks. The doctor may recommend icing the area to minimize swelling. Any bruising can be safely camouflaged with cosmetics the day following the procedure.
Permanent Lip Implants
Following the surgery, patients can return home and will be asked to follow set instructions for a faster recovery period. The lips can be iced, and patients may be asked to remain upright (even during sleep) for several days to one week postoperatively. The swelling will subside noticeably each day, and by the first week any numbness or tingling will be minimal. Patients may be prescribed an oral narcotic to control pain and antibiotics to stave off infection. It can be months before the lips return to their pre-surgical state but with the modified size.
Consultation for Lip Enhancement
Men and women seeking Dr. Buckingham for lip augmentation should set up a consultation to meet with him in person at Buckingham Center for Facial Plastic Surgery. The doctor will learn about the prospective patient’s medical history and ask about his or her aesthetic preferences. The doctor can assess the condition of the lips, discuss potential treatment options, and answer any questions about each method available.
Candidates for Lip Enhancement
Both female and male patients looking to make the lips a more noticeable feature may be eligible for temporary or permanent lip enhancement. Patients should be healthy (both physically and mentally) and not have any serious allergies to either the hyaluronic acid injectable fillers or the silicone Perma Facial Implant and associated numbing agents, depending on their preference of treatment. The skin of the lips must be healthy and void of conditions like orofacial herpes (fever blisters/cold sores), cancerous lesions, or other conditions.
These cosmetic solutions produce natural results, and patients should be aware of limitations imposed by both the product and their facial anatomy. In patients with facial deformities, lip enhancement alone may not improve the function of the lips but may be part of a more involved reconstruction process. Patients can learn if either of these lip enhancement procedures will best correct their cosmetic concerns during the first consultation appointment with Dr. Buckingham. Prospective patients are encouraged to call the office to schedule an appointment at their earliest convenience.
Lip Enhancement Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What is Lip Enhancement?
Lip enhancement is a facial cosmetic procedure designed to give patients fuller lips. The procedure can also help to diminish wrinkling near the mouth. There are different lip enhancement methods to choose from, including injectable collagen replacement therapy (lip fillers), and the SurgiSil Perma Facial Implant. The former technique utilizes injectable materials like JUVÉDERM® or Restylane®. Collagen replacement therapy carries lower risks, but the results are temporary. Alternately, the latter procedure of lip implantation offers permanent results and carries its own set of risks.
Who is the best candidate for Lip Enhancement?
Candidates for lip enhancement are in good physical health and have realistic expectations for augmenting the appearance of the lips. A private patient consultation with Dr. Buckingham is the best way to determine which procedure can produce each patient’s intended results.
What is Restylane®?
Restylane is an injectable filler made of hyaluronic acid. It can be used to enhance the lips and to treat facial wrinkles and folds, providing results that last an average of six months.
What is JUVÉDERM®?
Juvederm is another dermal injection made of hyaluronic acid which can be used to enhance the lips. Juvederm is also commonly used to treat facial wrinkles, acne scars and other facial imperfections. Results typically last six months or longer.
What is Advanta?
Advanta is a soft, synthetic permanent lip implant produced by the company Atrium. These FDA-approved implants are made from ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluorethylene), which is a Gore-Tex-like material that provides long-term results. These implants are also approved for the nasolabial fold. While the results are permanent, there are some disadvantages to using this material.
What is the SurgiSil Perma Facial Implant?
This preferred lip implant material is created from semisolid silicone and varies in implant width. The length can also be adjusted to suit a patient’s lip anatomy. Due to the placement in the lips and the feel of the material, a patient’s fully healed lips are not negatively impacted by the placement of the Perma Facial Implant.
What can I expect during a consultation for Lip Enhancement?
The consultation prior to surgical or nonsurgical lip enhancement includes a full facial analysis to determine the best approach to the procedure. At this time, the doctor and patient can also discuss additional procedures that may accompany the lip augmentation, such as dermal fillers, BOTOX® injections, or other facial volumizing treatments such as chin or cheek augmentation.
Where is Lip Enhancement performed?
The procedure site varies and is dependent upon whether a patient opts to undergo lip injections or lip implantation. Lip fillers are administered during an office visit, while lip implantation may be performed in the office or an outpatient surgery center.
Is anesthesia required for Lip Enhancement?
Lip injectables are often performed with a topical numbing agent or local anesthetic. Implants, on the other hand, require local anesthesia with or without sedation.
How long does the Lip Enhancement procedure last?
The length of the procedure depends on which method of Lip Enhancement the patient chooses. Injectables can be expected to take thirty minutes or more, whereas implantations may take 30-60 minutes or longer to perform.
Where are the incisions created for Lip Enhancement?
For implant patients, incisions are typically made near the corner of the lips but can sometimes be located inside the mouth or at the base of the nose, depending on the procedure performed. Any scars will be concealed or small enough to not detract from the newly augmented lips.
What is the recovery like after Lip Enhancement?
The length and course of a patient’s recovery after undergoing lip enhancement depends on whether he or she selected the method of injectable fillers or implantation. After receiving injectables, recovery is often very minimal and patients are usually able to resume their normal schedule immediately afterwards, albeit with some bruising and swelling with minor discomfort. Implants, on the other hand, should be expected to result in a longer healing period, where patients can likely to return to normal activities after a week or so. Regardless of which method one chooses, patients may experience some obvious inflammation and discoloration after the procedure, lasting for about a week.
When are the stitches removed after surgical Lip Enhancement?
Any surface sutures used for implants are usually removed within a week. While dissolvable stitches may be used, they may also be removed depending on patient circumstances.
Schedule a Lip Enhancement Consultation with Dr. Buckingham
Edward D. Buckingham, M.D. is double board certified by The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and The American Board of Otolaryngology, and he is an expertly qualified facial plastic surgeon. He earned his education in Texas, and treats local, out-of-state, and international patients at his Austin practice.
Prospective nonsurgical or surgical lip enhancement patients are invited to call the office to schedule an appointment at (512) 401-2500 to book your doctor-patient meeting.
Those who prefer email communications can fill out Dr. Buckingham’s Patient Contact Form.