THIRD QUARTER 2000, VOLUME 14, NO 3

Lip augmentation found to be a trendy new procedure

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Lip augmentation found to be a trendy new procedure

A recent trend in facial plastic surgery is the augmentation of the lips. Not to be taken lightly, any procedure that alters the appearance of your lips will impact your body image and perception. Three general categories of enhancement procedures include: injectable materials; solid or semi-solid materials; and small tissue flaps.

Injectable Materials

Collagen is an animal product that has been the most frequently used method of lip augmentation for the past 15 years. After a skin test to rule out the slight possibility of allergy, the collagen is injected with minimal pain, little swelling or bruising, and virtually no side effects. The substance is quickly absorbed into the lips with excellent, but temporary results.

Dermalogen is derived from human dermis, with no potential allergies and no need for a skin test. The results are temporary but believed to last slightly longer than collagen.

Autologen is prepared from a patient’s own skin. The skin is taken from a surgical procedure, such as a facelift, and sent to a lab. The collagen is squeezed out of the skin, prepared, and preserved. The results can be long lasting–your own tissue is not reabsorbed like collagen or dermalogen–but it is also more costly.

Fat can be extracted from your body via a tiny needle, purified, and re-injected into the lips. There may be swelling for a few days and the final results will not be known until at least six weeks afterwards. Patients who have had various injectable materials agree that the main advantages include minimal invasion and good results.

Solid or Semisolid Materials

AlloDerm®, Gortex®, and dermis-fat grafts are implanted under the skin at the lip border or within the red part of the lip itself. Alloderm® is processed human tissue, rolled up and inserted from the corners of the inside of the lips. A few tiny stitches are made, with mild swelling for three to five days. The results typically diminish after six to 12 months. Gortex® is a biocompatible material that comes in sheets or strands. It is surgically placed like Alloderm®, but the results are permanent. A dermis-fat graft involves removing fat with the skin still attached and making incisions and stitches comparable to Alloderm® and Gortex®. The disadvantages are the extensive swelling for a week and potential instability of the graft. Although solid or semi-solid materials are more invasive than injectables, they offer a longer-lasting enhancement of the lips.

people image Solid or Semisolid Materials

The last two procedures are the most invasive. An incision can be made inside of the mouth to roll out a small pink tissue flap and insert it into the lips. This procedure requires anesthesia and causes swelling, numbness, and perhaps some drooling for the first few weeks. Another procedure is an incision in the upper lip following the lip line (Cupid’s bow). Some of the skin is removed and the lip is lifted to create a fuller look with more pout. There is a risk of scarring, but minimal pain and quick recovery. Patients are carefully screened for either procedure, with the possibility of trying a less invasive technique first.

Before deciding on a lip enhancement procedure, discuss with your facial plastic surgeon what optimal methods are best for you.