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Lip Augmentation

There are many things that define an energetic, “youthful” face. Full, soft lips is one of them. The entire lipstick and lip liner industry has been built around this fact. Furthermore, there may be no more sensual part of the face than the lips, so having great looking lips can go a long way towards looking youthful and attractive, no matter what other issues your face may have. Some people’s lips lose volume, thin out and become wrinkled as a function of age, sun exposure, or smoking. Some people were simply never blessed with full lips to begin with. Regardless, augmenting the lips is a popular and effective way of looking your very best.

There are several ways to enhance the lips. Using small incisions inside the corners of the mouth, implants ranging from synthetic materials, such as GoreTex, to natural human solid collagen, such as Alloderm, can be implanted in the lips under local anesthetic. Such solid implants require a little more recovery time but have more dramatic results.

More simply, fillers can be injected safely and comfortably in the lips ranging from collagen, such as Zyplast, to a patient’s own fat cells (harvested inconspicuously from around the belly button)! Injectable augmentation is associated with a more modest enhancement but has virtually no recovery time.

Unfortunately, the most natural enhancements do not last forever. Although the synthetic implants look good and do last forever, they don’t feel entirely natural and are therefore detectable with intimate contact. There is a great deal of research to develop a truly natural feeling permanent synthetic implant. To date such an implant does not exist.

Therefore, most people choose one of the natural implant materials and accept the time limitations the natural implants are associated with. Of course, repeat augmentation is always an option.

Probably the most effective, long lasting enhancement of the lips involves Alloderm, which is human collagen that has been processed into a safe, non-cellular, solid implant material. Using this material, virtually any degree of lip enhancement is achievable. Although at first it was thought that such a material would last indefinitely, recent studies have shown that the body does break the material down eventually. Different individuals will probably break the material down at different rates. As a result, the augmentation effect can likely last a few years or more, but won’t last forever. Repeat augmentation is always an option as the effect subsides.

The simplest way to augment the lips is with the injectable collagen Zyplast. Rapid and affordable, this is a great way to “try out” lip enhancement or to buff up the lip volume for a special event, such as a photo shoot, wedding, or hot date. The effect is immediate, and the lips are presentable within a matter of hours, not days. However, the effect is the shortest-lived with the enhancement lasting months, not years, for most patients.

The most “natural” option may be the injection of one’s own fat cells into the lips. The filler material is entirely natural since it is the patient’s own tissue. Nevertheless, the technique requires a separate procedure to harvest and process the fat cells, which adds expense. Fortunately, there is some evidence that patient’s undergoing multiple repeat treatments with their own fat cells do eventually realize a permanent augmentation effect, since some of the fat cells probably do survive long term.

A consultation with Dr. Hendrick will help determine which technique of lip augmentation will best achieve your goals.


1. My lips have all of these vertical wrinkles around the edges, which smears my lipstick - will lip augmentation correct this?
2. How much recovery should I allow for?
3. Is the procedure painful?
4. Are the implants safe?
5. How long will my augmentation last?
6. Can I have additional augmentation done after the original procedure if I want?

My lips have all of these vertical wrinkles around the edges, which smears my lipstick - will lip augmentation correct this?
Lip augmentation will help stretch and smooth the skin of the lips, so improvement with lip wrinkles can be expected. Lipstick should go on smoother and look better. Wrinkles won’t be completely eliminated by filling out the lip volume, however. Resurfacing procedures, such as laser resurfacing, may be desirable for some patients.

How much recovery should I allow for?
Depends. With collagen injections you can expect to be presentable within hours. With solid implants the lips become more swollen and even bruised. This swelling and bruising can take several days to subside. For solid implants dissolvable stitches are used inside the corners in the mouth, which typically last about a week. If you must be discreet about your procedure you should take the rest of the day off after injectable enhancement and a week off after solid implantation.

Is the procedure painful?
No. Solid implants or fat injections are placed using local anesthetic, which is easily tolerated. Injectable collagen has local anesthetic mixed in with the implant and the procedure is no more painful than any small injection.

Are the implants safe?
The results are permanent. Once the excess skin has been removed it will not grow back, so you will have a permanent benefit from the surgery. If you had a twin and you had the surgery and your twin did not, you would always look seven to ten years better than your twin. However, you would both continue to age and have age-related changes occur to your face and neck. For this reason, some patients will choose to have a “tuck up” procedure after seven to ten years to update their initial result.

How long will my augmentation last?
This is variable. In general, injectable collagen lasts about three months for most individuals. Alloderm solid implants last beyond a year and could last for several years in some individuals. A certain degree of permanent enhancement may remain if the body replaces any of the Alloderm with scar tissue. GoreTex and other synthetic implants last indefinitely. Fat injections last about three months, but may eventually have a permanent “build up” effect after several treatments.

Can I have additional augmentation done after the original procedure if I want?

Post-op Instructions

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