Lip Augmentation

By: Dr Elie F. GHARIOS

Lip augmentation It is a procedure that either temporarily or permanently changes the appearance of your lips. Sometimes, the procedure takes place in an outpatient surgical clinic with the use of a local anesthetic. Other times, it is done in an operating room under anesthesia. If a local anesthetic is used, you will be alert and comfortable throughout the procedure; the area being worked on will be numbed.

There are a variety of lip augmentation techniques from which to choose, so depending on the one that's right for you, the surgery can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours.

Most people return home shortly after the lip augmentation has been completed and spend a couple of days - in some cases, up to two weeks - recuperating from the procedure. With some techniques, though, you may even be able to return to work - or to your normal daily routine - the same day. If you have the procedure under a general anesthetic, plan to have someone with you; you will not be able to drive home alone. Pain medication will be prescribed, and you'll probably want to take it on the first and second day.

There are three main categories into which lip augmentation techniques fall: injections, grafting and local flaps. Each one requires a slightly different procedure and will result either in a temporary or permanent change to the look of your lips.


This method of lip augmentation entails placing a semi-liquid substance into your lips. It is an office procedure requiring a little topical anesthetic only applied to the surface of the lips. Substances that can be injected provide a general enhancement to the area, or they can help correct asymmetries of the lips. The procedure also can be repeated with little to no danger; some materials are more permanent than others.


In use since 1981, collagen is the oldest technique and one of the most popular methods of lip augmentation. Though collagen is proven to work well, its effects are temporary. Your lip augmentation with collagen will last between four weeks and three months. Extra can be added at any time.


Another substance injected into your lips to enhance their shape, or to equalize both sides of the mouth, is Dermalogen, which is a substance prepared and derived from the human skin of a human cadaver. It is a relatively new product on the market, but does not appeal to everyone because of its source.


Autologen also is relatively new to the market. It is made from a patient's own skin, usually from the excess removed during another procedure, like a facelift. The extracted material is sent to a lab, where your own, natural collagen is squeezed out of the skin, prepared and preserved. Because it is made from the patient's own tissue, it is the one theoretically more resistant to resorption than collagen or Dermalogen injections. People who have required repetitive collagen injections should consider the option of autologen, as its effects may last longer.


Artecoll is a synthetic material used frequently in Europe and in Canada. The substance is composed of microscopic spheres of material suspended in collagen. As the body degrades the collagen, then our own natural collagen replaces it and encases the microspheres, providing tissue augmentation that is long lasting.

Fat Injection

A fat injection is performed with a small syringe and needle. Extraction of fat is done under general anesthesia (because the quality of the extract is better than of what is extracted under local anesthesia) by using the liposuction probe from one part of the body. The amount of fat extracted is divided into 3 doses; the first dose is injected during the same procedure. The rest is conserved for the second and the third reinjection 3 and 6 month later.

This process is like "building a layer cake." You can expect a lot of lip swelling for the first few days after the procedure and minimal bruising or pain. The results are excellent and with this very special technique last for 10 to 15 years.


Alloderm essentially is a sheet of human collagen tissue, which has been purified and rendered non-immunogenic. It is related to Dermalogen, which can be injected.

An outpatient procedure performed under a local anesthetic, Alloderm is rolled up and inserted into an incision made on either side of your lips. This technique allows the materials to pass through the body of your lips. A few tiny stitches are used to seal up the small incisions. Post-surgery swelling disappears within three to five days, and complete healing occurs after two months. At that point, the material becomes soft and supple just like the skin surrounding it.

Gortex - yes, the same material that keeps you dry in a rainstorm - is a synthetic substance that, to date, successfully has been used in more than 5 million humans. It is most often used in vascular bypass surgeries Gortex is desirable because it is a biocompatible material that passes easily through tissue, acting as a filler to increase the reddish color and projection of the lips. You might like it for lip augmentation because the result is permanent and gives your upper, lower, or both lips a full, sensual youthful appearance.

Dermis-fat Grafts for the dermis-fat graft procedure, your doctor will make an incision somewhere on your body - usually in the groin area - and take out a wedge of skin with fat still connected to it. This sample of the skin with a bit of fat attached to it continues to nourish the fat after it has been transplanted. The skin also continues to bring in the body's own blood supply to ensure the graft's survival.

If you opt for a dermis-fat graft, your doctor will make an incision on each side of your lips, and the substance will pass from one side to another. This procedure is performed in your doctor's office, usually under local anesthetic, and you can go home the same day. You can plan to return to work in two to three days. Yet, the swelling is significant, so many patients opt to take a week to recover.

Local Flaps:

Inside the Mouth this last category of lip enhancement has been around since the 1950s, and was the first technique employed to enlarge the lips. It is still commonly used today, but because it is more invasive, it often is used when other techniques have been unsuccessful.

Due to the invasive nature of this procedure, you will experience temporary numbness and severe lip swelling that will last from two to six weeks. Sometimes, this technique is performed in combination with a graft implant, such as Gortex or Alloderm.

Outside the Mouth another procedure is an incision in the upper lip that follows the lip line, often referred to as "Cupid's bow." Some skin is removed and the lip is lifted and turned outward to create a fuller look with more "pout." This incision can be slightly visible, but often can be camouflaged with makeup.


There is a wide variety to use in lip augmentation. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The preference to choose goes to the patient. Of course, we will give our choice and guide the patient for the best.