Lip augmentation is a relatively simple cosmetic procedure used to define and volumize the lips. This common office-based procedure is usually performed on the upper and lower lips to provide a balance to the lips, though the treatment is individualized to meet the goals of the patient. Most patients desiring increased volume to the lips are able to achieve their desired results with just one simple procedure.
Lip augmentation can be achieved through several different techniques, with the most common being an injectable gel such as a hyaluronic acid filler (Juvederm® or Restylane®), which can last for up to one year. The best procedure for you depends on your goals of the lip augmentation procedure and any previous treatments. Dr. Andrew Trussler will discuss your lip augmentation goals with you to help you decide which treatment option is best for you to achieve the natural lips you desire.
What are some lip features that can be changed?
Dr. Trussler’s goal with lip augmentation is unique to each patient. You may want to erase some vertical lip lines. Or you may want to make your lips more symmetrical. Or maybe you simply want plumper, more kissable lips!
These are some specific areas Dr. Trussler considers with lip augmentation:
- Cupid’s bow — This is the name of the area in the middle of your upper lip. This is thought to be the focus of the lips, and Dr. Trussler adds definition. A lip lift directly targets the Cupid’s bow.
- Center fullness — Signature lip beauty means they are fuller in the center, tapering off at the corners.
- Profile projection — When viewed from the side, your upper lip should project slightly above your lower lip.
- Side-to-side symmetry — Augmentation can balance asymmetrical lips.
““Dr. Trussler is amazing, patient, no question is a stupid question to him. So understanding, not a condescending bone in his body and has a confident, yet friendly, disposition. Very different than any other plastic surgeon I have met. His manner is calming. He is truly an artist at what he does and totally cares about his patients. I trust him entirely. I recommend him highly! If I could give his practice 100 stars, I would! Brooke, his assistant is awesome and patient just like he is. I love this practice and his work. It’s beautiful!” -Maria
What are the risks and potential side effects with Lip Augmentation?
Risks correspond to the method of augmentation Dr. Trussler is performing, although all these options present low risk. With dermal fillers you may have some redness and slight swelling at the injection sites, but this usually only lasts a day or so. If you ice your lips immediately after your session, this helps. There is a chance of developing lumps, but that is rare and can be reversed immediately with an injection of an enzyme, hyaluronidase, that neutralizes the hyaluronic acid.
Fat injections have minimal risk, as you’re augmenting your lips with your own fat. Dr. Trussler uses a closed system for liposuction and then to purify the fat before it is injected back into your lips. This minimizes any risk of infection. With fat augmentation, the only real risk, if you want to call it that, is that it is difficult to know how much of the fat will “take” successfully. Not all the fat will acquire a blood supply and become basically permanent. A second session could be necessary if you want to fill out the lips more after the fat has settled into place.
Lip lift surgery is a minor procedure and involves only a small incision to subtly lift the lips. The same is true with the diamond procedure to lift the corners. These are low risk surgeries with Dr. Trussler.
Augmenting the lips with implants has some risk of the implants shifting, but this is rare. There is also a slight risk of infection.
What Are My Lip Augmentation Options?
The most common lip augmentation options involve an injection of a facial filler to increase the size and definition of the lips. Your own body’s fat, or synthetic or biologic implants may be used as well. Some of the options commonly used by Dr. Trussler for lip augmentation include:
- Hyaluronic Acid filler injections (Dr. Trussler prefers the use of Juvederm®)
- Fat injections using the patient’s own fat from another area of the body
- Collagen implant from your own body such as Palmaris Tendon harvested from the wrist
- Fascial (SMAS) implant from your own body usually harvested at the time of a facelift and performed during that procedure
- Lip Lift involves an incision below the nose which can naturally shape and lift the upper lip
- Diamond Procedure lifts the corners of the mouth with small incisions to help correct a down-turned lip
Each of these different types of lip augmentation offer patients benefits over other techniques, though biologic type augmentation techniques are preferred. You can discuss these options further with Dr. Trussler in order to determine which procedure is best for you.
It is important to discuss all options for treatment with Dr. Trussler in order to achieve the safest and most effective results for your lip augmentation procedure. A patient who presents for their first procedure should be conservative with the choice of lip augmentation and the amount. Hyaluronic acid fillers are relatively inexpensive, non-permanent, safe, and easily injected in the office with limited downtime. Utilizing your own bodies tissue requires a donor site from another area in the body, which is invasive and more expensive, though these types of lip augmentation may be longer lasting. A lip lift is an effective lip augmentation technique with long-lasting results though it does require an incision below the nose which may leave a small scar.
Through injectable fillers, autologous grafts or biologic implants, patients can achieve larger, fuller lips with minimal downtime and few side effects. With realistic expectations and good overall health, most patients are satisfied with the results of this procedure. Of note, volume can be added with the addition of a hyaluronic acid filler layered on top of any lip augmentation technique, and these fillers can be dissolved with the use of a hyaluronidase.
Lip Augmentation Procedure Process Explained
Lip augmentation procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and can usually be done in the office in less than an hour. Topical anesthesia is commonly used for the injectable procedure, as the majority of fillers have lidocaine in the gel. Fat injections and biologic implants are most commonly performed in the operating room under some modality of monitored anesthesia.
For office-based injections, the filler is injected in small amounts in the areas agreed upon during the initial consultation. Depending on the patient, the areas injected are the upper lip line and lower corners of the lip to provide a natural definition but avoid the “duck lip” look. Volume is then replaced to the natural anatomy of the lip: the three elevations of the upper lip and the two elevations of the lower lip. The outcome should achieve a volumetric balance to the lips with more volume in the lower than the upper lip. Proper placement of the filler in each of these areas is important in order to achieve optimal results. Ice is used immediately after to help decrease swelling.
Fat injection to the lips generally follow the same technique, other than the fat is harvested from another area of the body, cleaned, centrifuged and then loaded into small syringes for injection. Dr. Trussler does prefer to do this procedure in the operating room and is usually combined with other cosmetic procedures like liposuction.
Biologic implants like Palmaris Tendon and SMAS fascia are performed in the operating room. They are harvested from their respective areas, wrist and face, fashioned to fill the upper and/or lower lips, and the inserted through small incisions in the corners of the mouth. The incisions are closed with fine dissolvable stitches.
A lip lift can be performed in the office or in the operating room. A small incision is made just below the nose after the area is anesthetized with local anesthetic. Skin is removed and sutures help to naturally lift and shape the upper lip.
Is Lip Augmentation permanent?
The permanence or lack thereof depends upon the method of lip augmentation you’ve selected. If Dr. Trussler adds volume and shape with a dermal filler such as Juvéderm Volbella, you can expect your results to last about one year. At that point, your body will begin to absorb the hyaluronic acid and your lips will return to their former shape and volume. Another session with Volbella will maintain your results.
If Dr. Trussler uses fat transfer, this is a permanent volume addition. Initially, some of the fat transferred may not acquire a blood supply and the body will absorb the fat. But the rest will “take” and add permanent volume to the lips.
Lip implants are permanent. They will remain in place the rest of your life.
Surgery, whether a lip lift for the center of the upper lip or a diamond procedure to lift the corners, is also a permanent solution. These don’t physically augment the lips but change the orientation of some of the pink skin (lip lift) to make the lips appear larger. Or they lift the corners (diamond procedure) that tend to descend with age.
How will I know which Lip Augmentation option is right for me?
Fat transfers, dermal filler injections, and lip implants all add volume and shape to the lips. Dermal fillers are the best tool for defining the borders of the lips. Fat augmentation is a little less precise, but it has the added benefit of including liposuction on an area with unwanted fat. Implants have the benefit of consistent, permanent changes in the size or shape of your lips.
Lift lifts are different in that their goal isn’t to add volume; this procedure aims to lift the upper lip, especially the Cupid’s Bow in the center. Patients sometimes combine a lip lift with the placement of implants to add volume and lift the lips.
Diamond procedures raise the drooping corners of your lips.
During your consultation with Dr. Trussler, the two of you will discuss the changes you’d like to see in your lips. You’ll discuss how you feel about permanent changes, such as with implants, versus temporary change with dermal fillers. If you’d like to, in effect, demo some volume increases, then the injection of fillers is the way to go. If the prospect of moving fat from unwanted areas to the lips is appealing, that could be the best approach. We’ll discuss your options and you’ll be fully settled upon what we’re doing if you choose to go ahead with your lip augmentation.
Can I be allergic to Lip Fillers?
The Juvéderm fillers Dr. Trussler uses for lip augmentation are made from hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the human body that is responsible for hydrating, plumping, and firming the skin. It also is used for lubrication in joints along with other purposes. When a filler such as Juvéderm or Juvéderm Volbella is injected into your lips, the hyaluronic acid binds with nearby water molecules, instantly adding volume and shape to your lips.
Because hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in our bodies, reactions to these dermal fillers are very rare. If you are concerned, we can give you the ingredient list, and you can check with your ENT doctor or primary care doctor who is versed in your allergy triggers.
Lip Augmentation After Care & Recovery
After a lip augmentation, patients may experience mild discomfort and swelling for about one week, although these side effects usually subside on their own and are limited to the use of ice. The lips may appear to be overfilled and uneven at first, since there may be more swelling in one area versus the others. The final result is usually appreciated at four weeks. After a lip lift, sutures are removed in 5 days and scar care is started at three weeks. The scar from this procedure will fade over time.
Most patients can return to work and other normal activities within one to two days after the procedure, although exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a bit longer. Recovery from fat grafting and the other biologic implant procedures may take longer.
Depending on the type of material used, patients may require multiple treatments over time to maintain their desired results. Touch-ups can be performed after four weeks with injectable fillers if needed.
When can I eat normally after Lip Augmentation?
With dermal filler or fat augmentation, there aren’t any restrictions on eating and moving your lips. With lift surgery and lip implants, there will be the need to eat a soft diet, limit chewing, and try to keep your lips from moving overly much. During your consultation, Dr. Trussler will discuss these details with you.
Patient Before and after photo
- Trussler AP, Kawamoto HK, Wasson KL, Dickinson BP, Jackson E, Keagle JN, Jarrahy R, Bradley JP. Upper Lip Augmentation: Palmaris Longus Tendon as an Autologous. Plast Reconstr Surg 2008 Mar; 121(3): 1024-1032.
Whether you have a question or would like to set up a consultation, Dr. Trussler and his staff are here to help. Please fill out our contact form, or call our Austin office at (512) 450-1077 to schedule an appointment. Most injectable consultations and the lip augmentation procedures can be performed the same day depending on time and availability.