Originally Posted on August 5, 2015
Written by Melissa Chapman
Elizabeth Taylor’s infamous quote “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together,” perfectly sums up our society’s collective obsession with lips. In fact, I’d venture a guess that before most women leave their house- at least 90 percent of them first and foremost accentuate their lips with some kind of enhancer be it a shimmery gloss or lip stain. Why? Because prettying up our pouts is a quick and easy way to feel more pulled together and feminine.
For me- I see my lips as the focal point of my face and when I put on my lipstick- I honestly feel like that’s the best version of me, or as Elizabeth Taylor would say “pulled together”. And while there are a boat load of topical potions, lotions and creative makeup tricks to create the illusion of perfectly plump lips—for women who’ve always felt like their top lip is too thin- the good news is that there are temporary cosmetic enhancements to help them procure that plump lip they’ve coveted.
Of course while most of us want Angelina Jolie’s pout- none of us want to make the mistake that Bravo TV’s Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star, Diva Lisa Rinna did in regards to her well documented botched lip job So I asked board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Olding to demystify this cosmetic procedure and provide us with the lowdown on collagen as well as other injections that will help women achieve a pouty look and share whether the benefits of a lip procedure outweigh any possible side effects or recovery issues.
Melissa Chapman: What chemical material do you use when injecting the lips and what are the choices you have?
Dr. Michael Olding: Alternatives to plump up the lips include the patient’s own fat as well as “off the shelf” fillers. Hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane and Juvederm are the ones used most often because they have limited side effects, can be carefully titrated to the desired effect, and last up to 9 months. More importantly, there is little to no downtime, and if the patient decides the lips looked better before the filler, an injection of hyaluronidase into the lip can reverse it in several days! Botulinum Toxin may also be injected into the muscle of the lip (very judiciously) to decrease the strength of muscle contraction and therefore the amount of wrinkles, but too much creates its own problems.
Melissa Chapman: How long does a treatment last and when will it have to be redone?
Dr. Michael Olding: Fat may never have to be redone, but the “take” percentage of fat is low and therefore more needs to be injected initially, which can result in a slightly ‘overdone’ look though it is temporary. Hyaluronic acids can last up to 9 months, but in the lips may last a shorter amount of time.
Melissa Chapman: Is there a recovery period necessary before you can resume normal activities and eating?
Dr. Michael Olding: No.
Melissa Chapman: How is the procedure done from start to finish including anesthesia?
Dr. Michael Olding: Many of the hyaluronic acids available today contain a small percentage of numbing medication (xylocaine) which has significantly reduced the amount of discomfort associated with lip injections. Prior to the availability of those injectables, I did a nerve block to the area much like a dentist would do. Today however, patients are asked to apply a topical numbing medicine to the lips for 20 to 30 minutes followed by application of ice to the area for a few minutes. The ice not only helps with the discomfort, but it also decreases bruising.
Melissa Chapman: What are the most common and most serious complications that can occur?
Dr. Michael Olding: The most common side effects are bruising and discomfort from the injections. The most serious side effects include an extremely rare condition known as a granuloma which is an inflammatory nodule at the site of the injection. This can occur months after the injection, and can require treatment with steroids and antibiotics. If this occurs with an injectable hyaluronic acid, the reversal agent gets rid of the material and helps resolve the problem more rapidly than other non-reversible injectables.
If you are ready to take the plunge and plump up your pout I’d say the only downside is that the fillers only last up to nine months unless you opt to use fat injections, which will last indefinitely. And of course, the best part about fillers is that the procedure can be reversed if need be and there is no recovery period and very few side effects. Consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to determine which option is best for you.