Lip Tips: How To Make Your Lips Fuller
“Beauty is not always in the eyes of the beholder, but in the lips of the beheld.” –Dr. Minas Constantinides
Lips are one of the most intriguing of our facial features. Beautiful, full lips remind us of youthfulness, vitality and good health. Anthropologists tell us that lip beauty is cross-cultural, and even in aboriginal tribes that expand lips with discs, lips are focal points in facial beauty. It’s no wonder that lip enhancements are among the most asked about procedures in aesthetic dermatology and facial plastic surgery.
How can you make your lips bigger and appear more plump? Let’s explore how lips can be made more beautiful with topical treatments, fillers and surgery:
There are a huge number of lip plumpers on the market available from physicians or over the counter. One that I prefer is SkinMedica’s TNS Lip Plump System. This kit includes the TNS Lip Renewal and the Lip Plumper. The Lip Renewal has growth factors, peptides and hyaluronic acids that smooth and hydrate the lip while also improving the collagen framework. The Lip Plumper stimulates blood flow and causes the lip to slightly swell.
People have been injecting lips to improve their appearance for centuries. Today, the two main types of fillers for the lips are hyaluronic acids and autogenous fat transfer.
Hyaluronic acids for the lips come in three varieties. My favorite one varies with the aesthetic goals and individual preferences of my patient.
- Juvederm UltraPlus XC: This is my go-to filler for lip volume. Most patients want fuller more luscious lips. This filler can create volume, but also can enhance the lip line so lipstick can have a distinct end line and not run into little “smoker’s lines” vertically off the lip. One syringe of 1 mL is generally sufficient for both upper and lower lip enhancement. The XC signifies that there is lidocaine mixed in with the hyaluronic acid, so the lips feel more and more numb as I work, making the injections more tolerable. It lasts 6-9 months.
- Restylane –L: I reserve this filler for specific cases where the lips do not need as much volume, but rather sharper definition along the borders. Again, this has lidocaine mixed in. It also lasts 6-9 months.
- Restylane Silk: This newer filler provides a more subtle diffuse enhancement rather than providing real volume. It creates a smoother lip contour and can fill individual “smoker’s lines”. It lasts 3-4 months.
Lip injections can hurt, so I apply a strong topical numbing cream before treatment. This generally transforms the experience from very painful to slightly painful. Keeping the yoga breathing going helps too.
A word about longevity: Lips are very mobile structures so hyaluronic acids break down more rapidly here than in any other part of the body.
After lip filling, the lips will swell, often a lot, in the first 48 hours. They may even bruise a bit. Applying ice immediately after treatment and during the first day helps a lot. Restrict exercise and other vigorous activities for 2 days.
Autogenous Fat Transfer Surgery to the Lips
Fat transfer involves harvesting fat under local anesthesia from the abdomen, flanks or inner thighs with special liposuction cannulas designed to preserve fat globules in the best size for re-injection. The fat is then processed so that only fat globules are left, then re-injected into the lips (and other areas of the face, as desired). About 50% of the fat that is transferred last permanently in the lips. Unfortunately, how much fat “takes”, and where it “takes”, is unpredictable in the lips, so I prefer fillers over fat. The results are much more exact.
Perma Facial Implant (a.k.a. PermaLip) is a permanent implant made from soft solid silicone rubber and is designed for upper and lower lip augmentation. The implant comes in various lengths and widths to adjust for a patient’s aesthetic goals. This implant works really well with excellent long-term tolerance (meaning the risks of long term problems with the implant are low). It is placed under local anesthesia through small incisions in the corners of the mouth. I usually reserve this implant for patients that have already had good results with fillers but want a more permanent solution.
Lip Advancement/ Lip Lift Surgery
Surgery to improve lip contour and appearance can be done that involves pushing tissue from the inside of the lip out, so the lip looks fuller. Other surgeries involve making incisions at the base of the nose and removing skin to shorten the white lip and elevate the red lip. At Westlake Dermatology, Drs. Minas Constantinides, Chuma Chike-Obi, Kristy Hamilton and Timothy McGee perform lip lift surgery. More information can be found on our webpage on Lip Augmentation.
Make sure that your provider is experienced in lip enhancement procedures. More than any other area of the face, lip enhancement requires an artistic eye and lots of experience to get the right result.