Get your lips ready for a Valentines Day smooch! With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the number of patients coming in for lip enhancement procedures always increases. Lips play an important role in facial beauty. Thin lips are often associated with frailty, sickness, and age. Full lips imply sexiness and fertility- up until a point. My personal philosophy is that lips should never enter the room before the rest of you. Some patients seek a very dramatic look, Goldie Hawn typified this in the First Wive’s Club. For most of us, overly full lips scare us and discourage us from considering lip enhancement. Lip augmentation, or plumping the lips, is a very popular procedure and most go un-detected. That is, no one would suspect that the person has had anything done.
Having written several book chapters on lip augmentation, and lectured across the country on the latest lip procedures, I would like to share the latest lip augmentation procedures with you. The first point is that if you always have had thin lips, fillers will not be able to give you full lips. To accomplish that, surgical procedures can be done in the office to give you larger lips.
As we age, we lose volume in the lips. People who had large lips in their youth, will notice that they decrease as they get older. Our goal in augmenting the lips is usually not to fill the lips back up to their large, youthful size, but to restore some of the volume to an age-appropriate level. The number one filler we use for this purpose is Juvederm Ultra. It is a hyaluronic acid filler (our body is loaded with hyaluronic acid). The effect usually last from 9-12 months for most people. One of the nice things about Juvederm is that if there is an asymmetry, hyaluronidase can be placed to shave part of it down or dissolve it completely depending on the patient’s wishes. For patients who find that Juvederm Ultra does not last as long as they would like, I recommend Juvederm Ultraplus.
For softening the smoker’s lines or fine lines around the lips, NEW Restylane Silk orJuvederm Ultra can be used. Longer-lasting treatment options include chemical peeling and Carbon Dioxide laser resurfacing.
For patients seeking a permanent lip augmentation, Alloderm is an exciting option.Alloderm is human skin, in which all the cells have been removed and then it is freeze-dried. As a result, Alloderm is the collagen and supporting framework of skin. I place the Alloderm in the lip through an incision in the corner of the mouth. For about 90% of patients, their body grows into the Alloderm and eventually replaces it. I personally do not recommend lip implants such as Gortex and silicone.
For patients with little to no lips, a lip advancement or nasal base resection may help achieve their goals. These office procedures offer a permanent change to the lips. For patients with a flat upper lip and not much definition in the cupid’s bow area, a lip advancement can help to roll out the pink part of the lip and make it more defined. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia. The new lip border is outlined and the strip of skin is removed. The incision usually heals nicely, however if the patient desires additional camouflage, permanent make up can be placed in the area.
If a patient has a long upper lip with a nice shape, a nasal base resection can be performed. This involves removing a piece of skin at the bottom of the nose, lifting and shortening the lip.
Full, well-defined lips are a beautiful, youthful feature to the face. We are lucky to have many options available to help enhance them.