View the Antiaging Tips & Secrets Slideshow Pictures

Cosmetic Procedures and Lip Augmentation

So you want to improve the appearance of your lips? You've got your reasons. Plumping your pucker often improves self-confidence and sexual confidence.

The good news is that you have many options to improve the appearance of your lips. The methods we discuss here also reduce fine lines and wrinkles around your lips. It's important to be realistic, too. Injections or implants can enhance and improve your natural look, but they're not about performing miracles.

Who Are the Best Candidates for Lip Augmentation?

You must be in good general health overall. You are not a good candidate for lip augmentation if you have:

Like any other cosmetic surgery, lip augmentation requires a lot of responsibility. You can only determine for yourself if you're ready. We've included the most popular injections and implants here. This information should serve as a general overview only and should not replace your doctor's advice. Once you've selected a doctor, you will communicate with him or her and decide together which option best suits your needs.

As with any medical procedure, you should tell your doctor of any allergies or any medications that you are taking and you will be required to discuss your medical history. Certain diseases such as diabetes can increase your chances of complications. If you are a smoker, this may also be a complicating factor.

Quick GuideCosmetic Procedures: Botox, Laser, Peels Before and After Photos

Cosmetic Procedures: Botox, Laser, Peels Before and After Photos

Injections for Lip Augmentation

Your surgeon will most likely use topical anesthesia (painkiller applied directly to the lips) for injections. These are performed on an outpatient basis in your doctor's office or an outpatient center and you will be sent home the same day.

Here are the options:

  • Artecoll is a synthetic material that plumps up the lips. Because it's synthetic, you are at higher risk of having an allergic reaction to it than if you got an injection of collagen or fat, but it lasts longer than either.


  • Autologen is an injection of your own collagen, extracted from another place on your body. There's no risk of allergic reaction, however, the results are only temporary. This may be good for people who aren't ready to commit to a permanent result.


  • Collagen can be extracted from cows and injected into the lips. There's a risk of allergic reaction, so it's best to have your surgeon give you a test dose before proceeding to the full dose. The results are temporary lasting four weeks to three months.


  • Dermalogen is collagen extracted from deceased human donors. This is also a temporary fix, but your body should not reject it.


  • Fascia injections use a specific type of connective tissue harvested either from your own body or from a deceased human donor. It can be implanted surgically or injected. The main drawback is that within a year of injection, your body will reabsorb the fascia.


  • Fat from your own thighs or abdomen can be injected into your lips. There's no risk of allergic reaction and you may achieve permanent results. This can also be implanted surgically (see below). If you gain weight, your lips may enlarge since the fat cells will get bigger.


  • Hylaform is a material created from a natural body substances known as hyaluronic acid. There's no risk of infection, but you will need repeated treatments to maintain the result as it's only a temporary fix.


  • Restylane is a clear gel. It contains hyaluronic acid. It's biodegradable, so your body will absorb it within about six months of the injection.

Lip Implants and Surgeries

You will most likely receive local anesthesia if you get a lip implant or have lip augmentation surgery. A procedure can take up to two hours at your doctor's office or outpatient center, depending on the complexity, and you will be sent home the same day.

Here are the options:

  • Alloderm is a sheet of collagen created from deceased humans. Your surgeon inserts them through tiny incisions made on the inside part of the lip. This material offers only a temporary fix, lasting up to 12 months.


  • Fat grafting is the surgical method of inserting your own fat into your lips to achieve the desired fullness. You may achieve permanent results, but this method varies from person to person. Because it's your own fat, there is a chance that your body can reabsorb it.


  • Goretex, SoftForm, and soft ePTFE are synthetic materials that can achieve a permanent result. Unlike some of the other options we've listed above, your body will not absorb these. However, because they are synthetic, there is a risk of allergic reaction.


  • Local flap grafts is a surgical procedure that takes tissue and skin from the inside flap of your mouth. It's far more invasive than any other technique, and is often the last resort among plastic surgeons.

Your surgeon may also be able to make an incision along the upper line of your lip.

How Long Will Recovery Take After Lip Augmentation?

It's important that you have someone with you who can drive you home after a lip augmentation procedure.

If you are having surgical implants or grafts, your recovery can take up to two weeks after the surgery.

It's important that you know yourself. Discuss how much time you think you'll need for recovery with your doctor. It may be necessary to take some time off work. You will need at least three days off from work, at minimum. If you are physically active, you will not be able to exercise for a few days after injections and perhaps for a few weeks after surgical implants.

Quick GuideCosmetic Procedures: Botox, Laser, Peels Before and After Photos

Cosmetic Procedures: Botox, Laser, Peels Before and After Photos

How to Prepare for Lip Augmentation:

It's important that you have someone with you who can drive you home from the operation.

If you are a smoker, you may be required to stop smoking for a period before the procedure. You should follow your doctor's instructions carefully on this.

Make sure you wear loose, comfortable clothing. Be especially mindful of the shirt or blouse you choose to wear that day. It should be button down, if possible, so you do not have to pull it over your face.

You should not take aspirin or painkillers like ibuprofen or Motrin before having the procedure.

Before Your Procedure, Establish a Home Recovery Area With the Following:

  • Ice


  • Comfortable pillows on which you can prop yourself


  • Ointment or cream as recommended by your doctor


  • Plenty of soft foods, such as jello, pudding, oatmeal and yogurt that do not require chewing


  • Telephone within reaching distance of your recovery area

What Are the Risks and Complications of Lip Augmentation?

As with any surgery, there are risks and complications. You can have allergic reactions to implants as we've described above or an allergic reaction to anesthesia.

You can experience bleeding or an implant that hardens, which may require removal. You also risk infection or perhaps even nerve damage in some cases. It's very important that you discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to surgery and that you make your doctor aware of any existing medical conditions which may cause further complications.

After Lip Augmentation, Call Your Doctor Immediately If:

  • You experience extreme swelling


  • You develop a fever

Does Health Insurance Cover Lip Augmentation?

Insurance may cover lip augmentation if the procedure is being completed for reconstructive purposes, such as a congenital defect or as reconstruction after an injury or accident. However, if you are undergoing this procedure purely for cosmetic purposes, you're most likely on your own to pay the bill. Make sure you understand all of your doctor's charges, including anesthesia, follow-up care and hospital fees, if applicable. Obtain an estimate of the charges beforehand and work out a payment plan if necessary.

It's also very important that you realize elective cosmetic surgery may impact your current insurance. Your carrier can increase your premiums and it can affect future coverage. Ask your insurance carrier about its policy on elective, cosmetic surgery so you're not surprised in the future.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD, on September 19, 2009

Quick GuideCosmetic Procedures: Botox, Laser, Peels Before and After Photos

Cosmetic Procedures: Botox, Laser, Peels Before and After Photos

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Reviewed on 9/19/2009
References
Reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD, on September 19, 2009

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors