Also referred to as "cheiloplasty," lip augmentation is a cosmetic surgery procedure that enhances the size and appearance of the lips. Over the last decade, lip augmentation has become a popular procedure in plastic surgery due to its increased availability, efficiency, and affordability. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Pamela Anderson, and Jennifer Garner have popularized the appearance of full lips, prompting many women in particular to seek lip augmentation as a means of achieving a “bee-stung” pout. Although topical creams and lip glosses are available which claim to increase the size of the lip through swelling or other means, lip augmentation generally refers to a result achieved through such procedures as lip implants or lip injections.
In the 1980s, bovine collagen was often injected into the lips as a cosmetic filler to achieve temporary lip augmentation. Today, products such as Restylane® and Juvederm®, which contain hyaluronic acid, have become popular fillers for lip augmentation injections, with temporary results that last for about six months. Fat transfer, in which a portion of the patient’s fat is excised through liposuction from one area of the body and then implanted into the lips, is another popular procedure for lip augmentation. The results from a fat transfer procedure typically last longer than those of injectable lip augmentation; however, they also require general anesthesia rather than just a topical anesthesia, and are more prone to produce lumping or scarring of the lips.
Bruising and swelling is expected following a lip augmentation procedure, and generally lasts up to a week. Some of the side effects of lip augmentation procedures include itching, redness, bleeding, lumpy or uneven lips, as well as ridges on the lips if not enough filler is injected. Allergic reactions to the anesthetics or fillers used in lip augmentation procedures can also occur, and patients are required to undergo skin tests prior to procedures. Ideal lip augmentation candidates include patients that are free from cold sores, infections, diabetes, lupus, hypertension, and facial nerve disorders. Smokers also face a slower healing process following a lip augmentation procedure.
Whereas lip augmentation procedures were once only available in hospitals and private practices, today they are readily available in walk-in clinics and strip malls, along with several other cosmetic surgery procedures. This increase in the availability of cosmetic procedures is part of the “Botox lunch” phenomena, which refers to cosmetic surgeries that are so efficient they can be undergone during one’s lunch hour, after which time the patient can return to their normal daily activities. Regardless of the venue for lip augmentation, the quality of the procedure is mainly determined by the experience of the practitioner. Several years of experience are required by a practitioner in order to master the filler injection technique of lip augmentation.