By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
The advancement of the medical field arrives in tandem with innovative research, longer life expectancies, and the potential to change your appearance in a matter of minutes. In modern years, one medical field that has garnered a significant amount of attention from the general public is plastic surgery. Originally, plastic surgery was established to help improve physical flaws that were a result of genetic abnormalities. In fact, America’s first plastic surgeon, Dr. John Peter Mettauer’s first operation was done to restore a patient’s lip after being born with a cleft palate. Nowadays, patients do not need to have a dire reason to have surgery in order to improve their appearance. With adequate financial resources and desire, you can get just about anything done.
While plastic surgery is not a new field, social media is. The average person spends two hours a day on social media. That means every day you and I are bombarded with images that aid in our description of what “perfect” looks like. For some people, obtaining their ideal look means opting for liposuction to slim down, for others, it means to invest in botox to postpone the aging process. One of the most relevant plastic surgery trends to recently surface involves lip enhancement. Kylie Jenner and the Kardashian clan are the driving forces behind the popularity of this growing cosmetic trend. So much so, that in 2016 Dr. David H. Song, President of the American Society of Plastic Surgery, reported that lip enhancement surgery is up 50 percent since the early 2000s.
Lip augmentation surgery is a category of cosmetic procedures meant to provide you with fuller, plumper lips. The procedures can range from traditional surgery to less invasive options. Traditionally, those considering lip enhancements struggle with accepting the appearance of their lips and desire to give them a more amplified look. It must be noted that while lip augmentations can help solve a myriad of cosmetic issues, typically surgeons are limited. They can only restore lost volume to aging lips, smooth vertical lip lines, and improve symmetry of your upper and lower lip. So, this procedure is not a total overhaul of your original appearance.
Lip augmentations are not the same. Don’t believe me? Let’s start by describing lip fillers. Lip fillers are probably one of the more invasive options you can opt for when attempting to improve the appearance of your lips. They are injected in both the upper and lower lip through a syringe and several treatments. Different types of lip fillers include Juvederm, Restylane, Voluma, and Perlane. One of the benefits of lip fillers is that many of them are not temporary. For instance, if you just want to see how a lip enhancement can improve your physical appearance. you can ask your doctor to use Juvederm Ultra Plus which has lidocaine. Since lidocaine is a numbing medicine, it has the ability to hold your lips in a position temporarily.
Next, we have lip implants. Lip implants differ from lip fillers in that it is a more permanent option. Following your initial consultation with your physician, they can help you determine which size implant works best for your features. Then the day of the procedure, a Permalip implant is inserted during an in-office procedure.
Another augmentation type worth mentioning is fat grafting. In surgical terms, grafting refers to a procedure in which tissue is moved from one site to another on the body. Through this option, your physician typically harvests fat from your abdomen, purifies it, and then transfers it to your lips. This procedure lasts around sixty to ninety minutes, and as an added bonus you get to go home the next day.
The last type of lip augmentation treatment that the American Society of Plastic Surgeons mentions is tissue grafting. Like fat grafting, tissue grafting also involves the transfer of material from your body to your lips. But, in addition to fat, surgeons use a piece of your own skin or dermis. Like many of the procedures, tissue grafting can be performed under local anesthesia and can take up to sixty to ninety minutes.
Whether you choose to undergo fat grafting or select the lip filler option, it’s important to remember that any enhancement to your body, whether big or small, requires you to take extra care of yourself after the treatment. Some valuable tips to implement following your treatment include: incorporating sweat proof makeup into your daily routine, eating foods for healthy skin to avoid infecting your lips, and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
As the old saying goes, “beauty is pain.” In this case, the pain might come from your wallet. Many types of insurance cover lip augmentations if they are completed for reconstructive purposes (i.e. after an injury or an accident). However, most do not foot the bill if the reason behind the procedure is cosmetic. The cost for a variety of lip augmentations ranges from $600 to $6000. I know what you’re thinking right now: “Wow, that’s a lot of money.” Yes, you’re right, the price for lip injections is costly, but if you plan ahead and save monthly the cost does not have to be as intimidating. Another thing to mention is cosmetic surgery is not the time to be cheap or find a steal. Before selecting a physician to perform your procedure, make sure you do your research and thoroughly investigate their credentials before operating on your face.
As with anything, there’s always a dark side. While lip injections are rarely in the spotlight for their lethal effects, it is far from being 100% safe. In the wrong hands, even the safest lip filler can turn catastrophic. One way you can avoid a bad experience with lip fillers is by avoiding the black market. Through the black market, consumers are able to purchase “do it yourself” lip filler kits that, while cheap, are dangerous. A study done by the Waterford Institute of Technology conducted research in which scientists observed and quantified undocumented DIY practices of Botox and dermal filler kits purchased online. Through online forums, they were able to document that although individuals understood the risks, they still decided to perform procedures on themselves because it was a cheaper option. Even if you go to a licensed professional, effects such as swelling, infections, and even blindness can occur. The FDA has made it a point to warn against purchasing lip filler online and self-injecting liquids into your face.
Ultimately, the decision is yours. Lip augmentations are serious procedures that have the potential to have both beneficial and harmful effects. By doing your research and thoroughly investigating the physicians that will play a role in your procedure, you can ensure your safety. We all have insecurities. Some of us want tips for clear skin while others want to improve our appearance in a more permanent way. Whatever the case may be, know that now more than ever, you have the power to take your health and physical appearance in your own hands. So, do what you want, but be wise.