Permanent lip implants are a form of volume addition to the lip that provides augmentation. There are more refined and precise than fillers. The implants can provide fuller lips to any patient, but especially to a person with thin lips.
The implants were originally done with Gore-Tex threads, but then more solid pieces of Gore-Tex were introduced. More recently, a soft form silicone implant called Surgicel has been used to provide volume to the lips and enhance them in a natural way.
Using implants for lip augmentation generally takes an hour to perform due to its simple nature. An incision is made in the lips (normally at the corners although it can be made elsewhere), and then the surgeon creates what can best be described as a “thin tunnel” to place the implant. Once it is placed, the implant is threaded through the lip and then trimmed to fit the length needed in the lip.
Gore-Tex is a very poor substance so the body actually sends collagens and fibrin matrix into this implant. Because the body does that, it tends to shrink overtime. People are happy with these implants for two or three years until they start to shrink and then they are not as happy with them.
Silastic does not shrink and it stays in its natural shape. Even though patients get older and their lips do as well, the implants will not age so patients do not have to get fillers every six months.
Permanent lip implant patients range from their 20s to their 50s. Once a patient hits a certain age, the lips becomes very thin and very atrophic.
Fat transfer is a bit different than soft tissue because the fat is usually harvested from the abdomen or thigh region and injected into the lip. There are a few downsides with fat injections:
The obvious benefit with permanent lip implants is that the patient generally gets several years of happiness with them. The upside of hyaluronic acid fillers is that if the patient does Juvederm twice in 18 months, there is a bit of a holdover benefit after the second injection so it lasts a little bit longer. This happens because when fillers are injected there is a stretching of the FiberBlast (the collagen producing cells in the skin). It is not as true for patients that want a lot of volume in the lips. However, for things like correcting the vermilion border (the junction between the red and white lip) there is definitely some lasting benefit overtime with repeat injections.
With permanent lip implants, there is a risk of infection, extrusion, malposition, and asymmetries. An incision has to be made to place the implants so there is normally a scar.
Fillers are widely available but they are still technically dependent. Placing an implant is a surgical procedure and requires surgical expertise. The patient needs to see a doctor who has surgical expertise.
Swelling can last several days up to two weeks depending on the individual patient and whether they have avoided aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It also depends on if the patient monitored their activity level.
Whenever there is any kind of trauma to the lip, there is a risk of fever blisters or herpetic infections. Patients need to be treated with a dull cycle of air which is an anti-viral medication.
There is a demonstration kit that can show patients what the lips look like going up to 5mm in diameter. That is usually large enough for anyone. If a patient wants the “Angela Jolie look”, that is achieved with fillers and implants.
The results from permanent lip implants are indeed permanent but the question is whether or not the patient will be happy with them as the lips age. Patients might be happy with the results when they are 20 or 25 but they might not be as happy with the results 20 years from now.
The results from fat transfers vary from patient to patient, but most people get one to two years of results from fat transfer because a lot of it does not survive. It is best classified as a semi-permanent result.
Permanent lip implants can last forever but it is hard to tell if patients will still be happy with the results in 10 to 20 years. It is important for patients to visit a doctor who can discuss the pros and cons of permanent lip implants to help determine if the implants are the right choice for them.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA
Based on an exclusive interview with Stephen Prendiville, MD in Fort Myers, FL