Full lips have always been an integral component of the concept of beauty. At the dawn of recorded history, Mesopotamian women literally adorned their lips with crushed jewels to create the appearance of a fuller lip. A few thousand years later, Cleopatra and the ladies of the Egyptian court crushed bugs and used the blood to colour their lips. During the Renaissance era in Europe, poetries were filled with metaphors about red lips. Even Shakespeare had a thing about full red lips.
Is it any wonder then that lip augmentation continues to be one of the most popular non-invasive cosmetic surgical procedures in the world?
Lip augmentation is a procedure where dermal fillers are injected into the lips to increase its mass and give it a plumper appearance.
Once the filler is injected into the lip, it will exert itself and shape the tissues surrounding it. Through extensive testing, cosmetic surgeons are able to choose the right type and quantity of fillers to help develop the shape and volume of a lip. In some cases, multiple injections given over a period of time may be needed to finely tune the shape of the lips. Nevertheless, application of fillers is not a science – it’s an art. There is a lot of subjectivity and creativity involved in the application. So please listen to recommendations before deciding on a cosmetic doctor to ensure you get the right man or woman for the job.
Dermal fillings will maintain its shape and volume for quite long, but they are not permanent. Over time, gravity, photodamage (effect of the sun’s UV rays) and chemicals (from lipstick, chap sticks, food and drinks) can also alter the properties of the filling, which may necessitate another visit to the clinic. Most doctors actually recommend lip rejuvenation every six months to maintain the shape and volume of the lips (although some experts believe one year is a better).
The perfect lip augmentation. Image by Gilberto Santa Rosa, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Types of Dermal Filers
Literally hundreds of types of fillers have been tested and sold over the past few decades. At one point, collagen and polyacrylamide (PA) were the preferred choices. However, through the process of attrition (and fear of granuloma), only one type of filler remains today - Hyaluronic acid (HA, hyaluronan).
HA is a naturally occurring carbohydrate polymer that exhibits no adverse reaction, both short term and long term, when delivered into the human body. HA fillers usually contain lidocaine, a local anaesthetic, to eliminate post-injection pain or soft tissue trauma. Fillers are injected into the lips using a needle and cannula. Cannula is used to deliver the payload, while a needle is used around the edges and curvature for shaping and sculpturing.
There are actually several dozen HA fillers in the market. However, the three most well-known brands are:
• Juvederm Volbella: Perfect for sculpturing on large lips. Will maintain its shape and volume for 12 months
• Belotero Intense: Ideal for plumping up thin lips. Recommended for rejuvenation after nine months.
• Teosyal RHA (1, 2, 3 and 4): The higher the number, the plumper the effect. A very versatile filler that will last for a year.
Lip augmentation is a very low risk procedure. However, you should be prepared for the following side effects in the hours and days after the injections:
• Cold sores (the presence of HA and lidocaine will trigger dormant herpes simplex virus - if you have it)
However, please contact your doctor if you demonstrate any of the following symptoms:
• Bleeding, swelling and tenderness ten days after the procedure
• Hard lumps in the lips
• Pus and infection