For patients seeking lasting yet removable lip volume, permanent lip enhancement via implants is offered by most plastic surgeons. Lip implants differ from temporary lip augmentation because they are not injected into the lip area requiring plumping; rather, they are shaped to form to your lipsâ€™ contour and are surgically inserted through small incisions in the corners of the mouth.
While temporary lip enhancement is done using one of many different types of injectable liquid fillers, permanent implants are either made from synthetic material such as Gore-Tex, or inserted in sheets like AlloDerm and Fascia. SoftForm or UltraSoft, and other forms of Gore-Tex are considered to be the most permanent types of lip implant. While some patients do achieve permanent result with other procedures, about 50% of patients experience reabsorbing of the implant.
Gore-Tex implants are made of soft, porous polyetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), a non-reactive and non-toxic synthetic material. Gore-Tex lip implants come in different shapes and sizes, and offer permanent lip enhancement by allowing the tissue to incorporate the implant into the lip. Chances for infection are greatly reduced with Gore-Tex implants and there is no chance of absorption into the body.
SoftForm or UltraSoft implants are similar to Gore-Tex, and make a softer, more natural form when inserted into the lips. SoftForm does not shrink or absorb, but can be removed if results are unsatisfactory.
AlloDerm is currently the most popular material for permanent lip enhancement. Natural collagen sheets are harvested from your body or from cadavers, then screened for disease, sterilized and processed to leave only the protein and collagen sheet. This method lowers infection rates to 2%, and can last five years or longer. This is considered a permanent implant in about 50% of patients.
Fascia, the connective tissue in joints and muscles, can also be used. Harvested from cadavers and processed to be sterile and free of infection risk, the fascia is surgically implanted into lips through small incisions in the corner of the mouth, and can be easily incorporated into the bodyâ€™s structure. There is a chance of absorption into the body, which makes this procedure permanent for only about 60% of patients.
Lip implant procedures are slightly more invasive than the temporary lip augmentation. The area will be numbed using a local anesthetic, and through small, almost imperceptible incisions in the corners of the mouth, the surgeon will thread the implant through the lips using a small needle. Incisions will be closed using tiny dissolvable sutures which should disappear in under two days. Considered a surgical process, the permanent enhancement implant procedure can take from one to two hours to perform, but is typically performed in-office, not in a hospital setting.
The cost of permanent lip implants varies according to the type of implant you choose, the surgeon who performs the surgery, and the quantity of the material used. Gore-Tex, SoftForm and UltraSoft implants can cost from $1500 to $3000 per implant. AlloDerm and Fascia are slightly less costly at $1000 to $2000 per lip. Check your area and shop around for prices, as costs can vary by city and state. Be sure to avoid the hidden costs of cosmetic surgery by asking ask for the all-inclusive price.
Because the procedure for lip enhancement via lip implant is slightly more invasive, there may be swelling, bruising and redness for a short time after the procedure. Applying ice will help with discomfort and swelling, and you should be able to return to work within two to three days. Patients may experience slight stiffness for up to three months, as well as some numbness. The implant should not be easily detectable during kissing, but will be noticeable if pinched between fingers.
The risks associated with this type of surgery are very low. The possibility of infection and rejection is slightly higher in implants, because the synthetic implant is considered a foreign body. Be aware that the risk with any type of implant can include shifting. Do not hesitate to contact a plastic surgeon in your area for a complete consultation of the risks of permanent lip enhancement.