She’s had them in, she’s had them out… and in again. Despite Kylie Jenner’s infamous lip filler journey (and because of it), lip augmentation has shot up in popularity over the past few years, particularly for people in their twenties and thirties. The filler materials and techniques of lip enhancement has improved greatly over the years. If you find yourself hating it, the results are mostly reversible, and allergic reactions are uncommon. We spoke to an aesthetic physician and a plastic surgeon to hear more details on getting non-surgical and surgical lip enhancement. Read on for everything you’ll need to know before, during and after lip augmentation treatments.
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1. Who’s The Right Doctor?
“It is not only what is in the syringe, but who’s behind the needle,” says Dr Michelle Lim, an experienced facial aesthetic consultant from SW1 Clinic. Dr Lim explains that lips are delicate. Hence, giving lip fillers require careful attention to detail and proportions to produce a good result. The doctor must also use reliable safe filler products in their practice, don’t be shy to ask what will be used. If you are looking into surgery for lip enhancement, always look for an experienced and fully-accredited plastic surgeon.
2. What’s In The Needle?
Over the years, the most reliable injectable compound is still hyaluronic acid (HA). There are many brands of HA fillers out there, so do look for a reputable clinic that carries the top reliable brands who would have invested more in product R&D and safety. For the lips, the results in the right hands would be natural and safe. Fillers are traditionally made to give volume to the lips, but with newer technologies and techniques, fillers of the right composition can also smooth lips and give structure.
3. How About Surgery?
A more lasting surgical alternative to lip fillers is fat grafting. Fat is harvested from the body and the fat cells are concentrated before re-injecting the lips. a portion of the fat injected will undergo resorption, around 30%. So your lips may be be injected fuller at first, and will take around one week before it looks more natural and the results are lasting. “On top of volumizing, fat grafting can rejuvenate the skin, due to its stem cell content, and also slim the body areas (aka liposuction) where it is harvested from,” explained Dr Chia Hui Ling, Consultant Plastic Surgeon from SW1 Plastic Surgery Clinic. With the multi-tasking nature of fat grafting, or fat transfer, it ranks as one of the most popular procedures in Dr Chia’s practice.
Other plastic surgeries for lip enhancement are lip reduction and lip lift. A lip reduction will reduce and reshape naturally full lips or lips distorted by permanent fillers. A lip lift can shorten a long phlitrum (the skin between the nose and the lips, which lengthens with age or may be naturally long) and make the lip appear fuller.
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5. What Will Happen If I Stop Fillers?
If you want the lip filler removed faster for whatever reason — say you don’t like the look — a doctor can inject a compound called hyaluronidase, which immediately reverses the effects.
And, if you decide to discontinue using lip fillers, your lips won’t look like deflated and deformed. The lips return to its usual form. Because many love their filler results, “[Our] clients generally return every 6 months for touch up [with HA fillers]”, added Dr Lim. This interval is an approximate, the duration depends on the individuals’ metabolism and the type of filler used.
5. Is it Painful?
Most doctors apply a topical anaesthetic cream beforehand and there is also anaesthetic within most fillers these days. So the lip fillers these days are fairly comfortable. Depending on the doctor, some use needles and some prefer cannulas (blunt needles essentially). Both techniques will produce goods results in experienced hands, depending on their technique to achieve the best results. The needle technique will usually require more pokes than cannulas. Fat grafting is usually done under sedation (because usually fat grafting is performed to rejuvenate the rest of the face at the same time) so there is usually no pain during the procedure.
6. What’s The Recovery Like?
No matter the technique doctors use, there is a degree of swelling and sometimes bruising. But it should only last a few days, a week at the very most for lip fillers. This apply for fat grafting too, but the lips may appear fuller for up to 2 weeks. It’s not a great idea to get lip fillers a week before a big event; give the lips time to settle. Dr Lim recommends to avoid alcohol, exercise or kissing for 3 days. If you are considering fat grafting surgery, anti-swelling medications will be given during the surgery and also for you to take home to reduce the downtime.
7. Will I Look Unnatural?
The best way to avoid looking sausage- or duck-lipped is to maintain proportion and balance. This is why it is key that you find an experienced injector. Dr Chia explains that the bottom lip is ideally half to two-thirds fuller than the top lip for Caucasians, depending on the proportions for the rest of the face like the philtrum and nose. Dr Chia added that “There are ethnic variations [for lip proportions], like Orientals have naturally fuller upper lips, and some will look better with a 1 : 1 ratio of the upper and lower lips. It is all about achieving ideal lip proportions and shape, that is harmonized with the rest of your face and your ethnicity.”
8. What’s The Damage?
The cost of each treatment varies by the doctor, clinic and complexity of the procedure. In Singapore it runs between $600 to $2,000 per treatment. There are also risks of lumpiness or skin breakdown. But thankfully these are uncommon if the injector is experienced and using the right products. So in conclusion, if you have the money and are more than a little bit curious about how your lips would look fuller or more defined, now’s a pretty good time to try lip augmentation. Odds are, more than a few people you know already have.