Lip Implants Offer a Costly, yet Permanent Alternative to Fillers

Lip Implants vs. Lip Fillers

If your number one issue with lip injections is that they don’t last long enough, then permanent lip implants may be the answer.

  • Lip implants are specially shaped, soft silicone implants which are inserted into the lips to add volume.
  • Unlike lip injections, lip implants are permanent and don’t require future trips to your plastic surgeon.
  • While lip implants are more expensive than injectable fillers, over time they may be a more cost-effective solution.
  • Total recovery time is approximately one month, but most swelling subsides after the first week.
  • The cost of lip implants typically ranges from $2,500 to $5,000.

As you probably know, the effects of filler injections can last anywhere from 4 months to one year. That’s because your body will eventually metabolize the hyaluronic acid in injectable fillers such as Juvederm or Belotero — and those wonderful volumizing effects will eventually fade away.

The exact amount of time injectable fillers last depends on the person, and the type of filler used. But for all patients, once you start down the path of lip injections you’ll need to “top up” those injections every few months to a year if you want to maintain that plump, pouty look.

At a cost of $500 to $2,000 for Juvéderm or Restylane injections, lip injections are a beauty choice that can add up over time.

So if you’ve already tried lip injections, and you’re looking for permanent solution to fuller lips — without the need for repeat visits to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon — you may want to consider lip implants as an alternative.

What Are Lip Implants?

Lip implants are specially shaped, soft silicone implants which are carefully inserted into the lips to add volume. The implants themselves are tapered at the ends to create a natural shape that both matches and enhances the existing shape of your lips.

Different thicknesses and lengths of lip implants are available. You’ll want to discuss these options with your doctor to choose the look that’s right for your face. Typically, the lower lip requires a larger implant with a higher overall volume, whereas a longer, thinner implant is generally more suitable for the upper lip.

Lip implants are extremely soft to the touch. They should have more or less the same softness that your lips normally have — even when kissing.

There are many popular brands of lip implants available, including PermaLip, Gore-Tex and SoftForm. PermaLip implants are made from ultra soft silicone, while Gore-Tex and SoftForm are made from a soft material called PTFE. Both materials are well-tested and have been in use for many years.

How Much Does Permanent Lip Augmentation Cost?

The cost of getting lip implants varies depending on your location and the type of implants your doctor recommends.

Typically, the cost ranges from $2,500 to $5,000.

Getting Lip Implants: About the Procedure

Before the procedure, your doctor will advise you to stop taking certain supplements, medications or vitamins that may affect blood clotting or healing. It’s also advisable to stop eating or drinking at midnight before the day of the procedure.

It’s recommended to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing when you go in for your procedure. And it’s best to not wear any jewelry, make-up or contact lenses.

During the procedure, lip implants are inserted at one side of the lip, near the corner of the mouth. The implants will be passed horizontally through the entire length of the lip to the other side of the mouth.

To insert the lip implants, small incisions are made just inside the mouth, under the lip where they won’t be visible. Starting from the first small incision, a small “tunnel” is created horizontally through the lip. A special tool is then used to pull the implant into position through that tunnel, where it is secured in place.

After the lip implant has been inserted, the incisions are stitched-up using tiny dissolving stitches that disappear on their own, and won’t need to be removed.

In most cases, implants are inserted into the top and bottom lips at the same time. But some patients may wish to only insert the implant into one or the other.

The procedure is painless, and typically uses only local anesthesia like your dentist uses. Prior to starting, the doctor will numb the area by injecting a local anesthetic into your lip. Once the procedure begins, the entire implantation process can usually be completed in under one hour.

After the procedure, you should arrange for a ride home. While only local anesthetics are used, it’s still advisable to not drive immediately afterwards.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

Most of the major swelling and bruising usually subsides in the first five to seven days after your lip implant surgery. Within about a month, the lip implants start to look very presentable.

As with many cosmetic procedures though, the final shape may take a few months to “settle in.” To speed up the recovery time, doctors recommend applying cold compresses for the first week after the procedure to keep the swelling to a minimum. You may also want to sleep with your head more elevated than normal to help keep the swelling down.

During the recovery period, your doctor will prescribe an oral pain killer. Expect your lips to look very puffy, swollen, bruised and irregular for the first week. The shape of your lips following the procedure is not their final shape.

Following the procedure you will likely find it difficult to eat or drink until the swelling goes down. You’ll probably want to plan on eating at home or alone until the principal swelling subsides. Eating soft food, or food cut into very small pieces will help.

Risks and Complications: A Stiff Upper Lip?

Compared with most other cosmetic procedures, the risks associated with lip implants are very low.

The main risk of a lip implant is that the site will become infected after the procedure. To prevent infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for a week or more after the surgery.

There is also a small risk that the implant will shift position, or that your lips will become stiffer or scarred. These are extremely uncommon results, but it’s important to visit a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon to minimize these risks.

On a more cosmetic level, there’s a small risk that the implants will be detectable to the touch. This is unlikely and may be the result of a poorly placed insertion. But it may also depend on how thin your lips were to begin with.

Lastly, there is also a very small risk that the implant will be rejected by your body. In the unlikely event that your body rejects artificial implants altogether, there are some additional solutions available like fat grafting, which uses fat transferred from another location on your body.

If you notice that the swelling or the pain is getting worse, report it to your doctor immediately.

There is no risk of lip implants breaking or rupturing as they are made of a soft, solid silicone or PTFE.

What’s Better? Lip Implants vs. Injections

By now you’re probably wondering which is the better lip enhancement procedure: Silicone lip implants or injectable dermal fillers. Both have their strong points, and both have their weaknesses.

Lip Injections Pros and Cons

Traditional filler injections are a far more common lip augmentation procedure as they are extremely low risk. Injections using traditional fillers take only fifteen to twenty minutes and the recovery time is very fast, although your lips may look very swollen for the first 24 hours after receiving the injections.

Another advantage to traditional injectable fillers is that doctors can “undo” the procedure right away if you’re not happy with the results. By injecting a special enzyme called hyaluronidase, the plumping effects of injectable fillers can be quickly erased.

One downside of dermal fillers is the potential for allergic reaction, which is far higher with injectable fillers than it is with implants. Of course, the biggest downside of fillers is they’re just a temporary fix. While their temporary nature may make the procedure very low risk, it can also make plump, fuller lips a very expensive proposition over the long term.

Lip Implants Pros and Cons

By contrast, lip implants are a permanent solution. But that permanence comes with a higher price point, slightly higher risks, and a longer recovery time.

Lip implants are also more difficult to “undo” if you’re not happy with the results. Instead of simply injecting hyaluronidase to reduce the augmentation, lip implants must be removed with another clinical procedure, which may also create additional swelling and bruising.

Both lip implants and lip injections will create the appearance of more youthful, plumper lips. If you’re not sure about either procedure, it is usually recommended that you “try out” the look with traditional dermal filler injections as they’re faster, less expensive and lower risk.

Once you decide you like the look of your lip augmentation, then it’s worth asking your doctor about the long term options of permanent implants.

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