What are Lip Fillers?

K. Tully

Lip fillers are used during mouth augmentation or lip enhancement cosmetic procedures to plump the lips. Lip enhancement is an out-patient procedure performed under a local anesthetic by a board-certified plastic surgeon or a specially trained healthcare professional. Tiny incisions are made, usually four in total, in the corners of the patient’s mouth; the lip fillers are injected; and the incisions are sutured closed. Lip fillers are considered temporary and are eventually broken down and absorbed by the patient’s body. The results generally last from three to six months, depending on the individual.

Lip fillers are used to plump the lips.
Lip fillers are used to plump the lips.

Bovine and human-derived collagens are the most widely used types of lip filler. Bovine-derived collagen is taken from cow tissue, and human-derived collagen is extracted from cadavers or human tissue left over from hospital surgeries. A patient opting for bovine-derived collagen typically is given a four-week allergy test before the lip filler is injected to make sure he or she won't experience any negative reactions. Use of human-derived collagen does not require an allergy test and has proven to be a successful alternative for those who cannot tolerate bovine-derived collagen.

Lip fillers are typically injected.
Lip fillers are typically injected.

Fat transfer is another option for lip-filler treatment. This type of treatment involves using liposuction to remove human fat from a small area of the patient’s body, usually the hip or abdomen, and then injecting it into the patient’s lips. Many fat transfer patients report that the procedure makes their lips appear more naturally full than synthetic lip fillers. Another advantage of the fat transfer treatment is that fillers taken from human fat have been reported to last for six months or longer. The patient’s body is less likely to react negatively to or reject lip filler that is taken from the patient’s own tissue as well.

Lip fillers made with hyaluronic acid are another treatment option. These fillers are derived from the Streptococcus zooepidemicus bacteria and are cultivated in a laboratory to simulate the hyaluronic acid that is produced naturally in human skin and joints. Hyaluronic acid-based lip filler is a biodegradable clear gel that binds with the water molecules in the patient’s lips once it is injected. Its effects are reported to be instantly noticeable and to last longer than collagen injections.

Lip enhancement procedures are generally considered safe and usually are performed with few complications. People considering lip enhancement, however, should ensure they are physically healthy before the procedure and make sure they understand the procedure’s possible side effects. Patients can consult with their medical care providers ahead of time to discuss the details of the procedure and ask any questions they may have.

Some lip fillers bind with water molecules in the lips.
Some lip fillers bind with water molecules in the lips.

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