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Lip Augmentation


Full, sensual lips have long been considered an aesthetic ideal. Lip augmentation with lip implants or dermal fillers plumps up lips and enhances the look of the entire face. Those who have thin lips can especially benefit from lip enhancement. Recovery time after a lip augmentation procedure is typically short, making lip enhancement one of the easiest ways to make the face more visually appealing.


Thin lips are a concern for many women. Lip augmentation can increase lip volume and reduce the appearance of lipstick lines by filling age-related creasing along the lip border. Most women are good candidates for lip augmentation, but anyone considering the procedure should learn about the risks and benefits of lip augmentation before making a decision.

Ideal Lip Augmentation Candidates

Adults of nearly any age may be good candidates for lip augmentation. Patients with naturally thin lips or an age-related decrease in lip volume typically derive exceptional results from the procedure. Anyone who undergoes lip augmentation should be in good health and have reasonable expectations about the outcome that can be achieved. Often the cosmetic surgeon will show you before and after photos of previous patients to display the results of lip augmentation with injectable lip fillers, fat transfer, and lip implants.

Medical Considerations

Because there is the possibility of allergic reaction to the materials used for lip augmentation, the prospective candidates should report any preexisting allergies to the surgeon. Those who are choosing to undergo surgery to place lip implants should also report any respiratory problems that could potentially be compounded by anesthesia.

There is a wide variety of dermal fillers and lip implants available to accomplish lip augmentation, and not all of these options are safe for every person. In order to ensure the best results after lip augmentation, be sure to choose a facial plastic surgeon you can trust. Your surgeon should use only FDA approved lip augmentation products, and should take care to select the method that is ideal for your medical and cosmetic needs.

When using temporary fillers to enhance thin lips, the amount of time the volume will last depends on how quickly your body breaks down the filler components. Your surgeon will be able to give you a general estimation of how long each product may last to help with the decision making process.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view lip augmentation before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Yee

Pre-operative Instructions

Prior to undergoing a lip augmentation procedure, patients should obtain pre-operative instructions from their doctors. In the case of fat transfer and lip implant procedures, patients should:

  • Stop taking certain medications, herbs, and vitamins a couple of weeks before surgery
  • Avoid eating or drinking food after midnight on the day of surgery
  • Wear comfortable clothes to their surgical appointments
  • Avoid wearing make-up, jewelry, and contact lenses on the day of surgery
  • Arrange a ride home from a family member or friend

The lip augmentation procedure with dermal fillers is less invasive the fat transfer with liposuction and placement of lip implants. Patients can drive themselves to and from their appointments, provided they do not take any pain medication that could cause impairment while driving.

Lip Implants

Lip implants provide permanent lip augmentation with more refined results than dermal lip fillers, making them a good option for individuals with thin lips. Three popular types of lip implants are GORE-TEX®, SoftForm, and AlloDerm®. Each one works a little differently to give patients fuller, shapelier lips. Read on to find out about which type of lip implant might be right for you.

The Lip Implant Procedure

Lip implant surgery is relatively simple and usually takes about an hour to complete. The surgeon will first make small incisions in the lips. The incisions are most often made at the corners of the mouth, but may be made elsewhere on the lips, depending on the specific technique being used. The surgeon will then create a thin tunnel to accommodate the implant. Creating this tunnel properly is vital to ensuring that the lip implant may be placed correctly and provide an even, natural-looking result. Next, the surgeon will insert the implant and thread it through the lip. Finally, the lip implant will be precisely trimmed to the proper length, and the incisions will be closed.

GORE-TEX® Lip Implants

GORE-TEX® lip implants are made from a medical-grade version of ePTFE, the same material used in tents and raincoats. This non-reactive polymer has been used in surgeries for many years. Once implanted, GORE-TEX® lip implants may feel slightly rigid, but most patients quickly become accustomed to this. GORE-TEX® lip implants have micropores through which the natural lip tissue grows, effectively making the implants part of the lip structure.

Softform Lip Implants

SoftForm lip implants are also made from ePTFE, but have a tubular shape. This allows tissue ingrowth that reportedly provides better anchoring and lessens the chance of migration. Ultrasoft lip implants are the next-generation version of SoftForm lip implants. The manufacturer claims that Ultrasoft implants are three times softer than SoftForm lip implants.


AlloDerm® is a human-tissue lip implant made from donated skin. Soft and pliable, AlloDerm® is derived from human tissue and hence will not provoke an allergic response. Production and use of any human-tissue products is under strict FDA control to ensure consumer safety.

Risks and Benefits of Permanent Lip Augmentation

Compared with other cosmetic surgeries, the risk of complications from lip implants is relatively low. However, it is a good idea to be aware of possible complications before undergoing any type of surgery. Some of the risks associated with permanent lip augmentation include implant rejection, infection, implant migration, scarring, and stiffness of the lips. These risks can be greatly reduced, however, by choosing an experienced surgeon to perform your lip implant procedure.

The main benefit of permanent lip augmentation is implied in the name: this method provides longer-lasting results than temporary fillers, which are eventually absorbed into the body.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view lip augmentation before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Yee

Lip Augmentation with Fillers

Doctors frequently use injectable lip fillers to give the lips a plump, voluptuous look. Due to the wide variety of materials and injection techniques for lip augmentation, there are plenty of options that can meet your individual needs. Advancements in the field of lip enhancement have even made some methods so effective that doctors use them as permanent lip fillers.

About Injection Techniques for Lip Augmentation

Lip augmentation with injectable lip fillers provides pleasing results in as little as 30 minutes. Anesthesia is typically not necessary for the procedure because the filler usually includes lidocaine or another topical anesthetic. The results with injectable lip fillers are temporary because the body eventually breaks down and absorbs the filler. The length of time the results last varies with each individual, but the average is generally four to six months. Individuals who are considering lip implants for permanent lip augmentation are advised to try injectable lip fillers first to see if implants would provide the desired cosmetic benefit.

Collagen-Based Lip Fillers

Collagen, the most frequently used injectable filler worldwide, comes in two forms — bovine-derived collagen and human-derived collagen.

Bovine-Derived Collagen Fillers

Bovine-derived collagen is extracted from the tissue of cows that have been raised in constantly monitored, disease-free closed herds. Because there is a 3 percent chance of an allergic reaction to bovine collagen, an allergy test is required prior to treatment with this lip filler. Zyderm® and Zyplast® are bovine-collagen-based lip fillers that have been used by more than 1.5 million patients worldwide. Artecoll® is a bovine-collagen product containing polymethylmethacrylate microspheres, which remain in the lips after the collagen is absorbed. This reportedly provides long-lasting or even permanent lip augmentation results.

Human-Derived Collagen Fillers

Human-derived collagen is harvested from cadavers or excess skin removed during surgeries. Injectable fillers made from human collagen include Dermalogen, Cymetra™, Autologen, Fascian™, Cosmoderm™ and Cosmoplast™. The biocompatibility of human-derived collagen eliminates the need for a pre-treatment allergy test and makes these lip fillers an excellent option for those who cannot tolerate bovine collagen.

Hyaluronic Acid-Based Lip Fillers

Hyaluronic acid is a clear, biodegradable substance that occurs naturally in the body’s joints and skin. Hyaluronic acid binds with water molecules once injected into the lips, allowing hyaluronic acid-based fillers to moisturize as well as plump the lips and provide longer-lasting results than collagen augmentation. Restylane®, Perlane®, and RADIESSE® are hyaluronic acid-based fillers often used for lip augmentation. A pre-treatment allergy test is not necessary with these lip fillers.

Risks and Benefits of Injectable Lip Fillers

Though there is generally a low risk of complications associated with lip fillers, your reaction will depend on the type of filler you choose and your ability to heal. The more mild side effects linked to lip fillers include redness, bruising, swelling, minor discomfort, tenderness, and infection. With gentle care, these symptoms can be minimized, and should fade within a few days. A more serious risk is that of an allergic reaction to the animal-derived lip fillers, though this is very rare.

Many patients report that the main benefit of injectable lip fillers is the increased confidence they have in their appearance. Lip fillers restore the plump, sensuous look that is lost with age, and are long-lasting. Fuller lips can also add more balance to a person’s facial features.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view lip augmentation before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Yee

Lip Augmentation with Fat Transfer

For patients who desire fuller, plumper lips but are reluctant to inject foreign materials into their body, lip augmentation with fat transfer is a great solution. While other lip fillers, such as collagen and Restylane®, are commonly derived from animal or human donor tissue, lip augmentation with fat transfer utilizes your body’s own tissue, giving you soft, natural-looking results. Read the sections below to learn more about this exciting procedure.

What is Lip Augmentation with Fat Transfer?

Lip augmentation with fat transfer involves removing fat from one area of the body and injecting it into the lips. During fat transfer, only the body’s natural tissue is used, so rejection or allergic reaction rarely occurs. After the procedure, patients are left with soft, natural-feeling results that last from six months to more than a year.

The Fat Transfer Procedure

In the lip augmentation with fat transfer procedure, fat is first removed from a location on the patient’s body (usually the abdomen or thighs) with liposuction. This will not produce a noticeable effect in the removal site unless the lip augmentation procedure is being performed in conjunction with a body liposuction procedure. The fat is subsequently injected into the lips with a syringe and blunt needle. The injections leave only tiny prick marks, about 0.2 centimeters in diameter.

Lip augmentation with fat transfer is typically performed under local anesthesia or light general anesthesia, depending on the surgeon’s and patient’s preferences. The procedure is ideal for patients that want to reduce the amount of fat present in one or two areas of the body, and also desire to plump up the lips.

Risks and Benefits of Lip Augmentation with Fat Transfer

Lip augmentation with fat transfer is a relatively low-risk procedure. As with any surgical treatment, however, it is possible for certain side effects to occur. These may affect either the area from which fat is taken or the injection site (the lips), and include infection, bleeding, swelling, and minor discomfort. One shortcoming of the procedure that surgeons are trying to correct is that some of the fat cells die during transfer. An experienced surgeon will take steps to prevent this from happening, such as injecting the fat at intervals, rather than all at once.

One of the main benefits of the procedure is that it is very rare for a patient to have an allergic reaction or to reject the tissue, as it is taken from the patient’s own body. The results are supple and natural. It is also a simple outpatient procedure, requiring only a few hours recovery time before the patient can go home and resume normal activity.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view lip augmentation before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Yee


After lip augmentation, recovery usually requires very little downtime. Often, patients who have undergone lip augmentation can return to their normal routine within a day. Learn more about what to expect following lip augmentation to assist you during the recovery process.

What to Expect after a Lip Augmentation Procedure

Lip augmentation through the application of lip fillers, fat transfer procedures, or the placement of lip implants are usually performed right in the doctor’s office. The length of lip augmentation recovery varies depending on the specific type of lip augmentation procedure performed. However, most patients can return to their daily routine within a day, unless a general sedative was used to complete the procedure. After any type of lip enhancement procedure swelling and bruising can be expected. These effects may last a week or so if fillers are utilized for the augmentation, and up to three weeks if lip implant placement is performed. Discomfort during the lip augmentation recovery process is minimal and rarely requires management with prescription pain medication.

Returning to Your Normal Routine

The lip augmentation recovery process following fat transfer or lip enhancement with injectable lip fillers generally requires a day’s rest before patients can return to normal activities. Post-operative discomfort can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers.

After a lip implant procedure, recovery usually requires at least a week, and many patients find that this process takes up to two weeks. Sutures placed outside of the mouth are removed about 10 days after the surgery. Sutures within the mouth dissolve in about the same amount of time. The lips may feel numb until the healing process is complete. Additionally, lips may feel stiff for up to three months after the procedure.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view lip augmentation before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Yee


The benefits of lip augmentation include improved appearance and heightened self-confidence. Injectable lip fillers, fat transfer, and lip implants can be utilized to transform aging, disproportionate, or naturally thin lips into smooth, plump, youthful-looking lips within one trip to the doctor’s office.

Plump lips are a sub-conscious biological signal of youth and fertility, and are a symbol that transcends cultural fads. As women age and estrogen levels decrease, the lips may lose their volume and appear progressively thinner over time. Applying lipsticks and glosses is often counter-productive, resulting in lipstick lines caused by creasing along the lip border. Lip augmentation can restore lips to their youthful, sexy plumpness or give naturally thin lips volume which they never had before.

Possible Complications

Complications of lip augmentation are rare. However, as with any medical procedure, there are some risks to consider. Infection is a possibility, so it is important to monitor healing after any type of lip augmentation procedure. Any inflammation or oozing should always be reported immediately to the physician. Though uncommon, the body can occasionally reject lip implants, necessitating their removal. Lip implants can also migrate, which usually requires a second procedure to readjust the alignment of the implant.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view lip augmentation before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Suzanne Yee

Find a Lip Enhancement Specialist in Your Area

Lip augmentation procedures add body and definition to regular or thin lips for an enhanced facial aesthetic. Use DocShop’s extensive countrywide listings to find an experienced cosmetic surgeon in your area who performs lip enhancement.

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