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Can You Get Permanent Lip Augmentation?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Everyone wants full, luscious lips but not everyone is born with them. This is why the number of people undergoing lip augmentation has steadily increased over the years. In 2018, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimated that over 30,000 people had lip augmentation done. Injecting a lip filler is the common augmentation procedure for thin lips, but this cosmetic procedure is not permanent. 

So, is it possible to get permanent lip augmentation? Currently, lips implants are the only permanent lip augmentation option available. This form of lip augmentation requires plastic surgery with a variety of lip implant materials to choose from. Permanent lip implants will save you time and money, while keeping your lips plump and shapely. 

Getting Permanent Lip Augmentation 

If you have ever tried a dermal lip filler and was satisfied with the results, you might not enjoy visiting your plastic surgeon’s clinic for a maintenance procedure every six to eight months. You also might prefer a lip augmentation procedure that costs you less, as a syringe of lip filler costs $600 – $800.

So, you might be interested in a more permanent way of maintaining your full lips. This is where lip implants come in. Compared to dermal lip fillers, implant insertion surgery costs around $2000 – $4000 but will save you more in the long run. 

Getting lip implants is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that typically lasts 30 minutes. The step-by-step of this procedure would be:

  1. Your board-certified plastic surgeon will consult with you on your desired outcome, then choose the right size of implant for you.
  2. The in-office procedure begins with sterilizing the skin around the treatment area. 
  3. Local anesthesia will be injected into your lips. 
  4. Once you are numb from the local anesthesia, your plastic surgeon will make an incision in each corner of the mouth.
  5. Following the incision, a tunnel in the lip will be created with a tool called the curved alligator clamp. This tunnel follows the shape of the lip.
  6. Once the alligator clamp reaches the end of the tunnel, the clamp will open and grasp the implant. 
  7. The implant will be pulled into the tunnel, positioned under the lip fat and above the lip muscles. 
  8. Finally, the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures once the implants are in place. 
  9. Patients can go home after this surgery, and will need a recovery period of 1 to 3 days. 

Three Types of Lip Implants

For lip augmentation through implant insertion surgery, there are three implant types available: Synthetic lip implants, tissue grafts, and fat grafts. Synthetic or plastic lip implants can either be made of silicone or expanded polytetrafluoroethylene. Tissue and fat grafting are alternatives to synthetic implants, as fat or tissue from your body will be transferred to your lips. 

Synthetic lip implants

  • Silicone

Permanent implants made of soft, solid silicone such as PermaLip offer results that are soft, natural, and full without requiring additional upkeep. These implants are safe and sturdy, because they don’t rupture, harden, degenerate, or integrate themselves into the surrounding lip tissues. Some brands of silicone implants can also be easily extracted from your lips if you’re not satisfied with the results. 

  • Expanded polytetrafluoroethylene

Implants made of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene are soft, flexible, and compressible so they feel more natural and less noticeable than silicone implants. They also respond better with the lip tissues. However, implants made of this substance are non-resorbable and completely permanent. 

Tissue grafting

In simple terms, tissue grafting involves creating an implant from a bit of excess skin – usually from the lower abdomen – to fill the lips. Sometimes, a scar or skin from a facelift can be repurposed for lip augmentation. There are no allergies with tissue grafting, since the material comes from your own body. 

The epidermis is removed from the tissue, and the remaining dermis is rolled into a cigar-like shape before being inserted into your lips. This procedure takes longer at 60 – 90 minutes, but the shape and volume of your lips can last over five years. 

Fat grafting

Similar to tissue grafting, fat grafting uses fat from your body to fill your lips. The procedure also takes longer than surgery with synthetic implants, because the fat still needs to be collected from the body through liposuction. 

The fat is taken from the abdomen, hips, or thighs, so no allergy issues will arise. This fat is processed and purified inside a centrifuge before it is injected into your lips. 

Who Is an Ideal Lip Implant Candidate?

In order to find out if you are an ideal lip implant candidate, it’s best to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon so they can evaluate your medical history and skin health. This is important because you may have allergies or are taking medication that will negatively affect the outcome of your lip augmentation procedure.

Some basic criteria to determine if you can undergo this form of augmentation is if you have symmetrical lips and enough lip tissue to stretch over the implant. Patients with the following medical conditions would not be recommended lip implants:

  • Diabetes
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Lupus
  • Sickle-cell anemia
  • Other blood clotting disorders 

These medical conditions make it difficult for your body to heal. Lip augmentation surgery will cause excessive bleeding but yield poor results if you have these conditions. 

Lip Implants vs Lip Fillers 

While lip implants are an effective, long-term answer to thinning lips, it is also good to compare it to its augmentation alternative: a dermal lip filler. 

For patients who are determined to save money and time, lip implants are your best option. However, for patients who are exploring or would prefer a non-surgical procedure, dermal fillers would be a more comfortable choice. 

Lip ImplantsLip Fillers
ProsPermanent resultsSaves more money over timeFew side effectsNon-surgical procedure with fewer risksMore affordable upfrontEasy removal 
ConsLonger recovery timeMore risks associated with surgeryInconvenient removalRequires regular maintenance and additional treatmentsCosts more in the long-runMay have long-term side effects

Lip Implants

Since lip implants are permanent and don’t need follow-up treatments, you will only need to splurge money for lip augmentation upfront. The procedure will have more risks, since it’s a surgical operation. However, it is considered to be relatively safe with few side effects. It will also require a longer recovery period. Removal is possible, but will entail additional surgery. 

Lip Fillers 

Overall, lip fillers are a more convenient choice, since it’s non-surgical and won’t require downtime. Most lip fillers are made with a substance called hyaluronic acid, which is naturally available in the body. Hyaluronic acid lip fillers attract water to keep the lips plump. 

However, this type of lip fillers will also cost more since you will continually need maintenance injections. The filler will break up on its own after around 6-9 months, which makes removal easier. It can also  be dissolved by another substance, if needed.Side effects may persist in the long term if the filler is injected into a blood vessel, but cases like this are rare. 

Long-Lasting Lip Augmentation at Ethos Spa 

While getting lip implants would be a more convenient and permanent solution to have fuller lips, most plastic surgeons would recommend against having irreversible lip implants done. As we age, our faces change so finding a permanent solution for our lips is not ideal.

At Ethos Spa, Skin and Laser Center in New Jersey, we advise our patients to use an injectable dermal filler for lip augmentation instead. Lip fillers are a more customizable option compared to lip implants, and we guarantee amazing results that will suit your face perfectly.

Our team of board-certified plastic surgeons can also teach you how to maintain your fillers so that they last longer. Book your free consultation with us today to learn more about lip fillers.

Learn more: Do Lip Fillers Change Your Smile?

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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