Like most people who want to rejuvenate their appearance, you’ve likely considered lip augmentation. Without fully understanding how this cosmetic treatment works, it can be hard to actually move forward. At Burt & Will Plastic Surgery and Dermatology in Plainfield, Burr Ridge, and Morris, Illinois, we’re prepared to answer all your questions and help determine if this therapy is right for you.
Science and Beauty
It’s no secret that full lips are desirable. Plump, glossy, hydrated lips, to be exact. But what is it about this particular feature that makes it so universally appealing?
Believe it or not, lips correlate to mating potential. In fact, we as humans look for three specific facial cues when assessing mate value: average appearance, symmetry, and sexually dimorphic features. This last cue represents traits that differ between males and females. Typically speaking, men and women both prefer – among other facial features – narrow cheeks, large eyes, and full lips.
The Reason for Our Desires
As strange as it sounds, we prefer these traits because they resemble those of babies. Not that we want babies as potential mates, but that these features instantly resonate with our innate desire to care for another person. Meaning, full lips help prompt us to want to be with someone on a purely biological level.
As mentioned earlier, these aren’t the only features we seek in a potential mate, but they play a significant role. For the most part, we don’t even know we’re seeking these traits as, in fact, we are. We only know that a certain person will strike us as attractive without thinking about the science of why.
Why Lips Age
Lips naturally lose their volume for the same reason that skin ages: a decline in collagen production. In our youth, the body produces plentiful amounts of both collagen and hyaluronic acid. These help keep lips plump and moist from within so that when we’re young, we hardly even need lip gloss to look our best.
Additionally, teeth are larger when we’re younger. They help support lips so they look full and lifted. In effect, the hands of time work against us so that some people see their lips start to thin as soon as their late 20s. To make matters worse, lifestyle factors like smoking and using straws can contribute to the thinning process.
Explaining Lip Augmentation
This is simply a cosmetic treatment used to restore lips to a fuller, perkier appearance. The goal is to improve the dimension of lips relative to the teeth, nose, and other features. We’re not trying to achieve an oversize lip, but simply one that complements the rest of your face. It’s also ideal to reach a ratio between the upper and lower lips of 1:2, although this can certainly fluctuate from patient to patient.
Today, lip augmentation is noted as the second-fastest-growing cosmetic treatment in the U.S. This therapy mostly relies on injectable fillers applied directly into the lip. This may sound a little weird, but it’s not. We use a very fine needle on different points throughout your lips. The whole process is quick, easy, and relatively painless – especially as some fillers already contain lidocaine to numb the treatment area.
What They Are
Most injectable fillers are made of hyaluronic acid, a sugar your body produces naturally. While many fillers are similar in composition, they do vary in density. This helps identify the ways in which they’re best used. Some, for instance, provide all-around volume, while others provide subtle, natural enhancements.
Fillers do not provide permanent results. They can last between three months and a year, and then you will need to schedule maintenance sessions. But the benefit here is that you can try different formulas if you want to slightly alter your appearance or opt for a more pillow-like effect.
The Injectables We Offer
Our office offers a total of five dermal fillers. We’ll explain the uses for each of these, including whether or not they are ideal for augmenting lips.
If you want fuller lips but aren’t sure if fillers are right for you, a therapy known as the Botox “lip flip” might be just the answer. It subtly enhances the shape and fullness of your upper lip with very little effort. Here’s how it works:
- We place several Botox injections into the upper lip
- Supporting muscles temporarily relax to allow the lip to slightly roll upward
- Upper lip tissue becomes more shapely and visible
On the Side
As a side note, keep in mind Botox can be used in conjunction with dermal fillers to achieve optimal results. To know if Botox is the right way for you to enjoy fuller lips, consider these points:
- You want a slightly “pouty” look
- Your upper lip seems to disappear when you smile
- You do not want volume in your lips, simply a more prominent look
This encompasses a family of fillers used for a variety of purposes. Namely, Juvederm helps lift cheeks and smooth lines. Different formulations can also add volume to and improve the appearance of lines in and around the lips. For example, Juvederm Ultra XC can restore a look of natural plumpness in lips with results that last a full year.
To soften the appearance of dry lips with lines, Juvederm Volbella XC adds subtle volume. It also smoothes tissue for more youthful-looking lips and helps define the lip line for visible contouring. Again, results can last up to a year. Both Juvederm formulations are made of hyaluronic acid gel and provide even distribution throughout the lips.
Because it contains smaller hyaluronic acid molecules than many other fillers, Restylane is ideal for subtly plumping lips. It can also be used to smooth facial lines and wrinkles. Results start to show immediately and continue developing for two or three weeks. Effects can last up to 18 months, and patients often appreciate their natural-looking enhancements.
As part of the Restylane family, Lyft is a filler intended specifically to plump and lift the middle of the face. Those parts it targets are the apple, hollow, and apex of the cheeks. It’s made of hyaluronic acid and smooths wrinkles in addition to restoring volume. Lyft is not, however, intended for the lips.
The FDA has approved this filler to smooth skin folds and wrinkles in the hands and face. In this way, Radiesse specifically targets the signs of aging, although in some patients it may also be used to restore lost volume in the face. Because it’s more of an anti-aging treatment and less of a filler, it should not be used for lip plumping.
Similarly, Sculptra is not intended for use in the lips or around the eyes. Made with synthetic materials, this injectable helps ramp up the body’s natural collagen production. Its most common use is in the cheeks, where it erases lines, smooths contours, and adds volume. Additional benefits include softer skin and a reduced appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation.
All of the Details
With lip augmentation, patients often want to be assured their results will look as natural as possible. We understand this mostly depends on treatment placement, as all lip fillers provide beautiful results. This is why we look at your lips to determine overall shape and symmetry and then plan your therapy. Additionally, we recommend gradual enhancements over time so you look suggestively younger rather than “worked on.”
From a patient perspective, it’s important you stay with the same provider when going for additional filler sessions. This keeps the baseline in mind so you don’t end up with over-inflated or protruding lips.
It Doesn’t Stretch Lips
Patients tend to think of lip injectables as permanently stretching their lip tissues, but they don’t work that way. After the filler dissolves, your lips will not sag or deflate. Just the opposite, the needle pricks required during treatment helps stimulate collagen production. Your lips may then stay a smidge plumper well after treatment.
Filler Does Dissolve
We already mentioned that lip augmentation results aren’t permanent. A filler made with hyaluronic acid slowly dissolves while Botox simply stops working to relax muscles. Both treatments, therefore, are temporary.
Injectable fillers take less than an hour to complete, so they won’t intrude upon your schedule too much. The numbing cream needs around 20 minutes to take effect, and then the actual injections require between 15 and 20 minutes.
Can You Extend Treatments?
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to extend the life of your injectable lip treatments. The body processes Botox and/or hyaluronic acid the way it sees fit. But you can take a few measures to improve the overall health of your lips.
Prevent Smokers’ Lines
These can develop even if you’ve never smoked, thanks to sucking on straws and biting the inside of your lip. Skip both, and you’ll develop fewer lines to prevent premature aging. Also, take care of your teeth to prevent lips from sinking into the mouth or rolling inward. Last but not least under this category, drink water. Just as the skin can become hydrated, so too can the lips.
It’s easy to reach for cheap stick balms at the drug store and near the registers of big box stores. But better options include lip oils and ointments. These tend to sink into tissues to provide deep hydration, rather than sit on the surface and form a waxy layer that doesn’t penetrate. If you do this each night before falling asleep, you’ll wake with plumper, smoother, and glossier lips.
Build Natural Collagen
You can also naturally boost collagen with what you eat. Vitamin C is one of the most essential nutrients in building collagen, so reach for citrus fruits and green veggies. Protein doesn’t help produce collagen, but it does ensure new cells are strong and healthy. With this in mind, include nuts, beans, and chicken in your diet.
Plump and Beautiful
You don’t need extreme measures to enjoy fuller, smoother lips. On the contrary, lip augmentation with injectable fillers can provide lasting results without downtime, stress, or worry. Call Burt & Will Plastic Surgery and Dermatology in Plainfield, Burr Ridge, and Morris, Illinois, today to learn more.