Lip Augmentation for Full Lips

Reviewed by Scott R. Miller, MD, FACS

lip augmentation

Full lips through lip augmentation with facial fillers such as cosmetic dermal fillers and lip implants have gained popularity recently. Thin lips or wrinkled lips that detract from facial appeal have long been a challenge for many women and men. Often performed in combination with other cosmetic procedures, such as a facelift, brow lift, rhinoplasty, lip lift, and chin implant or cheek implant, lip augmentation is meant to provide overall balance for a rejuvenated facial appearance.

Lip Augmentation Defined

Basically, lip augmentation is the magnification of the lips with a cosmetic facial filler, fat transfer, or lip implants to create fuller lips. Several types of fillers and implants are available, including the following.

Human-Based Collagen Lip Augmentation

During the lip augmentation procedure using human-based collagen, your doctor may inject a manufactured human-based collagen filler such as Cosmoderm, Cosmoplast, Cymetra, Autologen, or Fascian to fill the lip area. Human-based collagen fillers are biocompatible and offer results that may last for four or more months.

It is important to note that the lip area is typically overfilled initially, because up to 40% of the collagen dissipates within a short period of time. Furthermore, as collagen treatments continue over time, more and more of the collagen remains and creates a greater opportunity for increased longevity, in some cases lasting a lifetime.

Bovine-Based Collagen Lip Augmentation

Before a lip augmentation procedure using bovine-based collagen, your doctor will perform an allergy test to ensure you are not allergic, because this form of collagen is derived from cows. After results from the allergy test show that you are a candidate for bovine-based collagen, your doctor will inject manufactured bovine-based collagen into the lip area.

The names of bovine-based collagen fillers include Zyderm and Zyplast. Also, Artefill uses a bovine collagen product to suspend polymethylmethacrylate microspheres (tiny bits of PMMA, a type of plastic) that lodge in the lips after the collagen dissipates, with the goal of providing a more permanent benefit.

Hyaluronic Acid-Derived Lip Augmentation

During the lip augmentation procedure using hyaluronic acid, your doctor will inject a hyaluronic acid solution to fill the lip area. Hyaluronic acid is a safe, clear gel composed of a naturally occurring polysaccharide (a carbohydrate) that exists in human tissues and skin. Hyaluronic acid fillers are said to offer longer lasting results than collagen-based fillers. Brand names of these fillers include Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm, Belotero and Hylaform.

Fat Transfer Lip Augmentation

During the lip augmentation procedure using a fat transfer, your doctor may extract fat cells from a discreet area of your body (such as the buttocks), prepare the extracted fat cells, and then transfer them through an injection to the lip area. Surgeons use various techniques to prepare the transferred fat cells. The technique used may impact the longevity of the results.

Fat transfer results may be unpredictable, but in many cases provide longer lasting results than those achieved with a filler.

Lip Augmentation Filler Risks, Recovery, and Cost

Lip augmentation filler risks are often minimal. Patients may experience some momentary bleeding at the injection site and often experience swelling as well. However, the swelling usually decreases within a short period of time. Other risks include infection, lumping, scarring, numbness, cold sores, and asymmetrical lips.

In the end, most people are satisfied with the results of lip augmentation with facial fillers or fat transfers. The cost of lip augmentation fillers is about $350 per session. The cost for a fat transfer lip filler is up to $4,500. The cost depends on a variety of factors, including the type of doctor who will be performing the procedure, the type of filler used, and the geographical area where the procedure is performed.

For more information on fillers, please read the injectable fillers overview.

Lip Implants

During a lip implant procedure, synthetic materials are inserted with a needle through small incisions that are typically made at the corners of the lips and sometimes in other areas of the lips. Several types of implantable products are used, including Gore-Tex (a biocompatible polymer material called ePTFE that is used for other unrelated surgeries), SoftForm (ePTFE that comes in a circular shape and may be softer than implants of the past), and AlloDerm (derived from human tissue to fulfill biocompatibility requirements). Artefill also fits into the implant category, because the PMMA microspheres anchor in the lips after the bovine collagen product is absorbed.

Lip Implant Risks, Recovery, and Cost

Lip implants may result in mild discomfort for a few days. Patients may experience some momentary bleeding at the injection site and often experience swelling as well, though swelling usually decreases within a short period of time. Other risks include infection, lumping, scarring, numbness, cold sores, asymmetrical lips and migration of the implanted material. Should the implanted material migrate, you may require another surgical procedure to remove or reposition the implant.

In the end, many people are satisfied with the results of lip implants. But this procedure is fairly new, and the cumulative results over time are still under investigation.

The cost for lip implants may be up to $4,500. Lip implant cost depends on a variety of factors, including the type of doctor who will be performing the procedure, the type of implant used and the geographical area where the procedure is performed.

Lip Reduction

While many people seek help for thin lips, others have the opposite problem — lips that are too large and are out of proportion with their other facial features. To address this concern, your surgeon can perform lip reduction surgery, in which lip tissue is surgically removed from your lip.

A New Smile to Enhance Your Lip Augmentation

A smile makeover can do wonders to enhance the beauty of full lips after lip augmentation. Review information about how to straighten teeth with Invisalign braces or improve teeth appearance with minimal prep Lumineers.