Both minimally invasive lip filler therapies and cosmetic surgical lip augmentation continue to surge in popularity. As the lip ages, the pink portion begins to recede and the lip becomes thinner. Lip augmentation or enhancement can create fuller, plumper lips that are associated with a more youthful appearance. For patients interested in lip augmentation from the Philadelphia area and across the country, there are various techniques and filler materials that are used in the augmentation process, depending on the condition of the patient's existing lip profile, the type and extent of change desired, etc.
Some patients will choose to have either the upper lip or the lower lip enhanced, and some patients will choose both. Injection techniques with fillers or fat grafts can be used to define, plump, or evert (roll out) the lips. Which techniques will help you attain your specific goals can be discussed during your consultation. Structural fat grafting and SMAS grafting are excellent techniques for lip augmentation that use your own natural tissue, and provide longer lasting results.
Non-surgical, minimally invasive methods of lip augmentation are chiefly performed using soft tissue or dermal fillers. The appropriate brand or type of filler to be used can vary from patient to patient. This is because while most fillers fulfil the same basic purpose, each tends to work in a slightly different way, depending on its active ingredient, texture, concentration, interaction with the body, area to be treated, and type of lip augmentation the patient is looking to achieve.
While our practice stocks a wide range of dermal fillers to tailor treatment to each patient's case, the Juvederm® family of lip fillers is used in most cases: specifically, Juvederm® Ultra, Ultra Plus, and Volbella®. While the type and duration of results differ from patient to patient, these fillers can last for up to a year.
A patient may want to achieve plumper, fuller-looking lips to correct age-related lip thinning and/or to correct naturally thin lips, which may be achieved using Ultra or Ultra Plus. Other patients may be looking to add subtler volume to the lips and/or improve the appearance of perioral rhytids (vertical lip lines, such as those that appear when the mouth puckers to drink from a straw or blow a whistle), in which case the effects of Volbella® may be more aligned to their goals.
Whatever your specific goals for lip augmentation may be, Dr. Greco and his hand-picked and knowledgeable nurse injector can advise you on which filler may be appropriate for you. It is important to note, however, that the skill, injection technique, and experience of the injector are far more crucial to the results than the choice of filler used, making it vital to research and select a practice that has certified and well-trained staff to administer them.
While surgical forms of lip augmentation may be more invasive and entail a longer recovery period, they are becoming more popular due to the sheer longevity and extent of corrective results that can be achieved.
Long-term lip augmentation can be performed using implants or autogenous (i.e. originating from the patient) grafts. But while some surgeons opt to use lip implants, the synthetic materials they are made of often cannot replicate the natural softness and flexibility of our lips, which leads to softer materials being favored.
For patients looking for long-term lip augmentation, Dr. Greco offers the structural fat grafting procedure. Fat is harvested from an area that has it in excess (typically from the abdomen or thighs) and then implanted carefully to the delicate lip area in very small droplets to add volume, reshape, or smooth away lines and wrinkles.
While the results are immediately visible, a slightly "overdone" look may initially be present. This is in part due to temporary post-surgical swelling and bruising, but is also in part because the doctor is using a calculated amount of fat to counteract any re-absorption by the body over time. Once the swelling has resolved and the injected fat has settled into place, patients are typically very satisfied with their lip augmentation results.
Candidates for facelift surgery often choose to combine surgical lip augmentation with their other procedures, due to the ease of access during the operation, the methods that the plastic surgeon can employ, and the ability to recover from multiple procedures during the same period.
In conjunction with a facelift operation, Dr. Greco often performs lip augmentation using SMAS tissue transfer. SMAS (short for submuscular aponeurotic sheath/system) is a sheath of tissue found underneath the skin overlying facial muscles. Parts of this sheath are often repositioned during a facelift, providing the opportunity to harvest some of this tissue as a graft that can be used to enhance the lips.
While SMAS lip augmentation does require one receiving a facelift to collect the tissue in the first place, many patients undergoing this procedure already have thinning lips as a result of aging – making this a ripe opportunity to recycle tissue that may have otherwise been discarded. Additionally, since this graft comes from the patient's own genetic material, the chances of rejection are almost negligible. Recent studies have shown that SMAS lip augmentation resulted in statistically significant volume increases for even five years after augmentation.
No matter which lip augmentation you choose, it is essential to follow the doctor's instructions for before and after every procedure to ensure you achieve and maintain the best possible results.
Swelling and numbness will occur. Cool compresses after the surgery will help with the swelling. Discomfort is minimal and can usually be treated with oral medication. Remember that a majority of the swelling will be gone in 2 weeks. As the swelling subsides the feeling in the lips will return.
The delicate sutures used for this surgery will be removed in a few days. Lipstick can be applied several days later.
There is risk with any surgical procedure; however, the risks of facial plastic surgery are minimal. Bleeding, infection, asymmetry and scarring are rare. These will be discussed during your consultation as well as ways they can be avoided.
Dr. Greco's practice is limited solely to excellence in aesthetic surgery of the face, and he serves patients from Philadelphia and out of the area. If you would like to meet with Dr. Greco to discuss cosmetic enhancements, call the office of Timothy M. Greco, MD, PC at (610) 664-8830, or request a consultation online today.