Definition and Anatomy
More and more women have undergone surgical and non-surgical methods of augmenting their lips. The lips are not only a functional portion of the mouth, but beautiful lips can be a mark of distinction for the face. Along with a person’s eyes, the lips portray an individual’s expression and mood better than any other part of the body. Think about the many times you focus (consciously or sub-consciously) on someone’s lips when they are talking, smiling, frowning, laughing, kissing, etc. Women apply lipstick to help accentuate this very prominent feature of their face – to provide a pleasing color and shape.
Lip augmentation can be considered a natural evolution in the enhancement of its beauty. And when done correctly can provide very dramatic results with minimal down-time.
The upper and lower lips have very particular relationships. The upper lip usually lies just slightly in front of the lower lip and has a unique shape along the border. The central upper lip has a “bow” with a dimple. A full upper lip with a slight outward projection and no fine wrinkling is a sign of youth. This “pout” is a desired shape for most women. Male lips should not exhibit this shape because of its feminine appearance. The lip borders are tube-like and can exhibit signs of aging with fine wrinkling. Lip augmentation can not only provide a more pleasing shape, but by virtue of “inflation” can help reduce the amount of fine wrinkling around this border.
Ways To Treat
There are many types of materials that have been used for lip augmentation. None is a perfect solution. Most are not permanent and require intermittent treatment 3 to 9 months apart for maintenance. Collagen, Restylane, Radiesse, Alloderm, and Fat are the most commonly used substances. All except fat are synthetically made or derived from animal or human by-products. Fat is harvested from a patient’s own body and re-injected into the lips. The longevity of each product varies: Collagen (3 months), Restylane (6 to 9 months), Radiesse (1 to 2 years), Alloderm (3 to 9 months), and Fat (approximately 50% lasts permanently). Some products should be utilized in specific locations in the lips, and when used outside of those areas, may exhibit visible or palpable lumpiness or deformity. Each product also differs in the appearance and feel and can have unique complications when applied. Post-treatment swelling can vary considerably as well. Collagen is a cow-derived product that requires skin testing to prevent allergic reactions.
All the previously mentioned products are injectable except for Alloderm. This is a product produced from treated cadaver skin and requires an incision for placement. While most of these methods can be performed under local anesthesia in the office, Alloderm and fat injections may require a general anesthetic. All of these products have advantages, disadvantages, and variable costs; it is important to consult with Dr. Ha to determine which method is best suited for you.
One product that Dr. Ha does not use is injectible silicone. This material has the highest rate of complications including extrusion (leakage), scarring, permanent deformity, and infection. This is a product not approved by the FDA for usage in the U.S., but is commonly available in other countries in Asia and South America. Because of the devastating complications that can occur, Dr. Ha believes injectable silicone for lip augmentation should be avoided.