Lip enlargement with lip implants
Lip implants are used in order to achieve a permanent enlargement of the lips. The lip implants that are available are divided into two main groups – synthetic and natural lip implants.
In Europe the synthetical implants are rare and we have therefore decided to devote this page to natural implants.
A natural lip implant, by definition, consists of own body material or material extracted from natural tissue.
The advantage of using these implants is that they have the ability of healing into the existing tissue and by doing so become a part of the body. This characteristic is however also the main disadvantages since they risk being resorbed (wither) over time (within one to three years). The withering can also happen unevenly which results in an irregular appearance.
Implant types for lip augmentation
There are mainly three different types of natural implant material for the lips. Own cutis (skin) grafts, own fat cells or so called Alloderm implants. Each of these is used with the same aim but have some different characteristics. A more detailed description of these follows below.
1. Own body fat/cutis (skin) implant
This type of lip implant is also known as dermal-fat implant and consists of a graft of skin which is extracted from the deeper skin levels of the patient, what is known as the cutis. This graft is made up of fatty and connective tissue and is shaped to the desired size before being inserted into the lip. This procedure has several advantages. One is the natural result achieved without a risk of allergic reaction or implant rejection.
At the surgery the surgeon extracts a graft of cutis with fatty tissue, normally from the crease of the groin or bottom. The implant is shaped and inserted into the lip through small incisions in the corner of the mouth.
The disadvantages of this method are that the patient is left with a small scar where the lip implant was extracted and there is a relatively large risk (50%) that the implant partially or completely dissolves over time. However greater amounts of the implanted volume remain compared with own fat cell injections.
2. Own body fat cells
Fat cells from one’s body can be suctioned out and then injected into the lips using a syringe. The method is particularly popular among patients that are against having foreign materials injected into the body.
Besides the fact that the product is extracted from the body and therefore completely natural the expectation is that the injected fat cells are to heal into the tissue and by doing so achieve a lasting result.
The procedure involves removing a smaller amount of fat cells from a part of the body (generally from the stomach or inside knee), treating it and then injecting it into the body.
For more extensive information about extracting and injections with body fat cells you are referred to the information page about fat injections » .
3. Alloderm implantats
AlloDerm is an implant product from LifeCell consisting of human tissue made from donated skin. At first Alloderm was developed and used for treating burn injuries but its area of use quickly expanded and is now used by plastic surgeons around the world. However, today the use of Alloderm implants at plastic surgery clinics in Europe is very limited.
Synthetic lip implants
Synthetic lip implants are in limited use in British clinics but are available on the international market and therefore described here.
These lip implants, so called Gore-tex implants are created out of a medical version of the epTFE (Gore-tex) material – the same material used in raincoats. This non-reactive polymer has been used in surgical medicine for 25 years. The implant used for lip enlargement consists of a 2-3 mm thick Gore-tex tube, the same used for blood vessel prosthesis. The implant is inserted the same way as the cutis/fat implant.
The reason for Gore-tex implants being used for lip augmentation is that is achieves a permanent result. The disadvantage is that Gore-tex implants can in some cases feel slightly stiff and unnatural which makes many plastic surgeons only use them in the bottom lip. Another disadvantage is that these implants begin to ”wander” as a result of the body’s attempt to expel the foreign material. They can also be difficult to remove afterwards if the patient was to change his/her mind or if complications arise.
There are also injectable products that are not absorbed by the body and remain permanent in the area of injection. These are sometimes known as injectable implants. You can read more about these products on the information page about injection treatments ».
The procedure for a lip enlargement with lip implants
Below you will find a description of how a lip enhancement with natural tissue fillers (own fat/cutis, alloderm etc) is performed.
Planning your lip augmentation
At your introductory consultation your surgeon will assess your general health condition, examine your lips, discuss your expectations, show images and explain which methods can be used in order to best achieve the desired changes. Be honest when discussion with your surgeon and demand the same honesty from him/her when answering your questions.
A tip that many experienced plastic surgeons give to their patients wanting to undergo a permanent lip enlargement is to first perform a more temporary lip enlargement by using injections.
You will receive instructions about how to prepare for your lip implantation, which includes information about how to eat and drink, rules of smoking, taking vitamins, medication and other substances. These instructions are to be followed carefully.
You can read more about the preperations for a lip enlargement on the page about general surgical preperations »
Surgical procedure for lip enlargement
A lip implantation is a relatively simple procedure which is performed under a local anaesthetic (the same anaesthesia used at the dentist) and takes less than an hour to perform. The surgery is completely painless apart from the prick felt when anaesthetizing the lip.
For the most common implant type, the so-called derma-fat transplantation (own body fat/cutis implant) the first step is to retrieve (harvest) the implant. After numbing the area, the surgeon cuts out a slim graft of skin from the patients groin or bottom crease. Thereafter the small incision is sutured which later becomes a discreet small (5 cm) scar. Once the lip implant has been harvested it is treated and cut to desired thickness and length.
The next step is to place two small incisions in the corner of the mouth through which the surgeon creates a small pocket/tunnel in the lips tissue where the lip implant is to be placed. To make sure the implant rests in the right place and leaves an even and natural result it is vital that the tunnel is correctly shaped. Once the tissue pocket in the lip is finished the implant is passed from one side to the other and adjusted to the exact length. Thereafter the incisions are closed and the lip surgery is finished.
Lip enlargement aftercycle
The patient leaves the clinic after a period of rest. Once the anaesthesia wears off, the patient may experience some pain in the lip. This is easily subdued with normal painkillers.
The lip swells substantially for a few hours after surgery. The swelling and bruising lasts for 1-2 weeks after surgery and is minimised by using ice bags a couple of times per day. Some swelling of the lip may however last for a few months.
The patient should sleep with the head slightly raised and limit chewing and movement of the lips throughout the first three days after surgery. Most patients are back at work within a week.
After 3-4 months the healing process has done and the final result can be seen. After this time the lip implant should feel softer and more flexible – a development that continues for up to one year.