So maybe you weren’t born with Angelina Jolie’s full lips. That’s where lip augmentation can come in. The procedure aims to enhance the volume and shape of your lips. Lip augmentation doesn’t just affect your pout — fuller lips can also help to reduce the noticeability of small wrinkles around the mouth.

Goals for Lip Augmentation

One of the keys to successful lip augmentation is an understanding of what lip augmentation can and cannot do for you. For example, while lip augmentation can change the shape of your lips somewhat, it will not likely take you from very thin, straight lips to an extremely full cupid’s bow. Also, most lip augmentation procedures are temporary, lasting anywhere from six months to several years. This means if you’re happy with your results you can be prepared to make return visits to your plastic surgeon’s office to maintain your desired look.

Lip augmentation can improve your lips’ appearance by making slight alterations in shape, structure and volume. For example, if you have a thin upper lip and a full bottom lip, your plastic surgeon may be able to enhance your top lip such that your lips appear more proportional.

Injectable Fillers for Lip Augmentation

The same fillers used to add volume to wrinkled areas of skin also can be used to plump lips. These fillers can be injected on an outpatient basis and typically involve applying an anesthetic cream to your lips to numb them before injecting the filler.

A large number of fillers are available on today’s market and the type your surgeon uses may depend upon how you would like your lips to look, how long your results will last and if you have any known allergies to injectable substances.

Some common fillers include:

  • Artefill, a filler made from synthetic microbeads of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) suspended in cow collagen. This substance lasts longer than typical fillers used for lip augmentation, but carries an increased risk for allergic reactions.
  • Autologen, a form of collagen harvested from your body’s own tissues. After the collagen is extracted, your physician sends it to a laboratory for processing into a form that can be injected. Because this collagen comes from your body’s own tissues, the risks for an allergic reaction are minimal. Results will typically last around six months.
  • Bovine collagen, a form of collagen extracted from cows. Because this form lasts only a matter of weeks, your physician may often use it as a means for you to understand what results to expect from more permanent lip augmentation procedures. This material carries a higher risk for allergic reaction and often requires a test dose to ensure your body will not react adversely.
  • Dermalogen, a form of collagen taken from human donors. This carries similar benefits to using your body’s own collagen, but does not require extraction from your body.
  • Restylane, Perlane and Juvaderm, fillers all made from hyaluronic acid, which is a sugar found naturally in the body. This clear gel has a smooth consistency for more natural-looking lips. While formulations vary, hyaluronic acid injections typically last about six months.

Lip Augmentation Surgeries/Implants

If the idea of coming back to the doctor every six months doesn’t sound ideal or you’ve been getting lip injections for some time and are ready for something more permanent, more invasive means can be used to augment your lips. Examples include lip implants made from materials such as Gore-Tex, SoftForm or soft ePTFE, which are plastic forms used commonly in medical implants throughout the body. These implants are considered permanent but can be removed if necessary.

Your surgeon also can graft or insert more permanent materials into your lips, such as connective tissue or fat. While results can be permanent in some instances, physicians cannot always predict how long these grafts will last.

While recovery from injectable fillers takes one to two days, recovery for grafts or lip implants can take a week or more for any swelling, redness and bruising to subside.

Who Isn’t a Candidate for Lip Augmentation

Not everyone may be a candidate for undergoing lip augmentation procedures. Some examples of patients who may not benefit or who may not be medically able to undergo this procedure include those who have:

  • Oral herpes, as an outbreak could affect the overall shape of the augmented lips
  • Scarring on the lips, which may make it difficult to accurately fill the lips
  • A history of conditions that may affect the lip augmentation’s success, including diabetes, lupus, connective disorders or blood clotting disorders

Also, if you smoke, your healing time may be affected. Always disclose this information to your physician to ensure this would not affect your ability to undergo lip augmentation. Any cosmetic procedure can have side effects — always discuss these with your physician so you can make an educated decision regarding lip augmentation.