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Lip Augmentation

Surgical lip enhancement, or augmentation, can be performed using a variety of techniques, including injectable filler materials, fat grafts (transfer), or implants. For permanent augmentation, implants can be placed in the lips during a minor surgical procedure.

Which option is right for you?

By far, the most common form of lip augmentation today is the use of injectable filler materials such as Juvederm® or Restylane®. These are temporary fillers of hyaluronic acid material that are safe, effective and provide soft enhancement for lines or thinning volume. Results tend to last 3-4 months on average. Patients are pleased with these materials because of the fast results, requiring only a 15-minute office procedure, with little to no downtime. Risks of injectables include bruising, swelling or a viral breakout, which can be controlled with medication. Make sure to inform your physician if you are taking blood thinners or herbal medications as these can predispose to bruising and/or bleeding.

Fat Transfer (Grafting)
Fat transfer (grafting) is often thought of as an option to provide permanent increase in lip volume because a patient's own fat is harvested from the abdomen and placed with small needles into the lip itself. Although fat is a permanent filler, the main downsides of this procedure include the need for a separate procedure to harvest the fat, some downtime related to swelling, and the risk of some (unpredictable) amount of fat absorption with time. Fat grafts are often very useful for areas that require a large volume, or patients in need of reconstructive options, but are less ideal for the cosmetic patient due to the downtime and additional procedure of harvesting.

Prior to the advent of injectables, permanent implants were the main method of lip augmentation. This can still be used today, however, for patients who desire a more permanent option. The procedure places soft thread-or tube-like implants through small incisions in the upper and/or lower lips. This can be done under local anesthetic or with more sedation if so desired. Some downtime is required to allow swelling and a small amount of discomfort to dissipate, but it is a relatively quick recovery of 2-3 days in most cases. Implants in this area tend to be well-tolerated, though the risks include having to remove the implant in case of infection or altered position. AlloDerm® and Gore-Tex® are some of the materials that can be used to provide increased volume through implants.

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Emory Aesthetic Center of Buckhead-Atlanta