Lip fillers - Lip filling
Injectable lip fillers are the quickest and most affordable way to augment lips. Lip filling with fillers such as Juvederm, Restylane and Perlane contain hyaluronic acid – the substance produced naturally by the body, which is responsible for nice plump lips (alongside collagen).
When injected into the lips, these soft gel fillers feel absolutely natural and move normally, with minimal potential for nodularity. Filler can be placed precisely to create the desired shape and definition. For example, placed along the vermillion border, the entire lip can look fuller and more pronounced. Meanwhile, using a small amount of dermal filler to accentuate the Cupid’s bow draws attention to the midsection of the lips and creates a poutier appearance.
Hyaluronic acid lip fillers are a temporary, non-surgical treatment. How long the results last for depends on the product used and your body’s rate of absorption. Around 6-9 months is typical, however studies show that benefits can last for a year or longer.
Pros: Instant results, affordable entry cost.
Cons: Temporary results, treatment needs repeating meaning higher costs in the long-term.
Lip augmentation with fat transfer
Fat transfer is an alternative to hyaluronic acid that uses a patient’s own body fat as a lip filler. Fat is extracted via a gentle liposuction technique from a donor site - this might be the tummy or flanks. It’s then prepared in a centrifuge, which separates the fat from the oil, water and blood.
The fat is injected droplet by droplet to build up volume and sculpt the shape of the lips. Fat can also be used to fill in lines around the mouth, including perioral lines and marionette lines. Other than a very small incision at the fat harvesting site, no incisions are made in or around the lips and there’s no scarring.
As well as being completely natural, one of the key benefits of the fat transfer technique is how long it lasts. The carefully injected fat gains a blood supply, meaning it becomes permanent tissue (although patients will experience some initial reabsorption of fat). If a patient desires a plumper effect after the first treatment, a second injection of fat can be carried out at a later date to increase ‘take’.
Fat extraction and grafting is usually performed under local anaesthesia with light sedation. Patients can go home the same day with little discomfort, although we recommend taking some time off if you can as you may experience some bruising and swelling around the injection sites. Likewise, you’ll have some tenderness around the donor area and will need to wear compression bandages.
Pros: Longevity of treatment, ability to extract as much fat as needed at no extra cost.
Cons: More invasive than using synthetic filler, more downtime required.
Lip lift surgery - Cheiloplasty
A lip lift is a surgical alternative to lip fillers, carried out to change the shape of the upper lip rather than add volume to it. The lip surgery, Cheiloplasty, removes a section of tissue from beneath the nose. Shortening the distance between the nose and lip increases the amount of ‘red’ on show and improves the appearance of a thin upper lip.
Because ligaments loosen and weaken as we age, lips droop and fall down to cover the upper teeth which can make the mouth appear older. The ideal distance between the top lip and nose in the classically proportioned adult female face is 11 to 13 millimetres, however, that distance elongates by one to three millimetres every decade as we get older.
Lip lift surgery moves the lip into a more youthful position and exposes a little bit of the teeth. It can be carried out in less than an hour, and is performed under local anaesthesia, with the scar hidden beneath the nose. It is not a painful procedure but some downtime is required because the upper lip will be swollen during the first week. The results are permanent, however, your lips and overall face will continue to mature.
Pros: Simple surgery, provides permanent results.
Cons: Only addresses the upper lip.
Combined lip treatment
While all of the above lip treatments have their own pros and cons, sometimes we can maximise the benefits by combining procedures together. For example, to totally rejuvenate your pout, you may need the distance between your nose and upper lip reduced, as well as volume added to your lips. Your plastic surgeon will be able to advise on the right combination of treatments to achieve your aesthetic goals.
Lip shape and size
The shape and size of our lips can make a huge difference to our overall appearance. Unfortunately, lots of us don’t have full lips even when we’re young - and they only lose further volume as we age.
According to research, the “ideal” lips make up about 10% of the lower third of the face, and the bottom lip should be approximately twice the size of the top one. The lips should thin out towards the corners, resulting in a 1:1 ratio. In addition, the perfect lips should have an accentuated philtrum (Cupid’s bow), and the bottom lip should be plump in the centre.
Of course, what makes lips attractive is a matter of opinion, but the most important thing to remember when seeking lip augmentation is that the lips must be in proportion with the face. Although you might think bigger is better when it comes to lips, this is not the case. Increasing the size of your lips by more than 50% is likely to look out of proportion. Likewise, over filling the top lip will create an artificial “duckbill” appearance.
Other factors that contribute to how youthful and attractive a person’s lips look are how defined they are, and the smoothness of the surrounding skin. The border of our lips (called the vermillion border) becomes less defined as we age, allowing lipstick to bleed over the edges. Vertical lines may also appear on the upper lip (known as perioral lines), which are further exacerbated by sun exposure and smoking.
Not sure which lip treatment is best for you? Get a facial assessment with a plastic surgeon. Contact Ocean Clinic for an appointment - either in-person at one of our cosmetic clinics or online via Skype/Zoom.