Smooth, full lips with defined borders are often associated with youth and beauty. Unfortunately, lips lose their fullness, definition, and red color as part of the normal aging process. There are also external factors that speed up this process, such as excessive sun exposure and smoking. Avoiding these factors will help to prevent loss of volume and thinning of the lips. But what can you do about lips that have already begun to thin and lose their shape?
Many people seek various cosmetic products, such as lip plumpers and topical lip care treatments to restore lip plumpness. While these products may enhance lip appearance temporarily, a more dramatic and long-lasting approach is lip augmentation. Lip augmentation is a procedure utilized to create fuller or more defined lips or correct unevenness. Below we’ll cover the various types of lip augmentation procedures and how they can enable you to obtain the fullness you desire.
Why lips thin with age
As we age, lips begin to lose their fullness as a result of decreased collagen and elastin production as well as decreased moisture levels. This is the same mechanism that explains why skin begins to sag as well as why wrinkles and fine lines develop. Collagen and elastin are proteins that provide structural support and elasticity to the skin and various other tissues throughout the body. As these proteins are degraded over time, lips lose volume because they no longer have enough structural support.
In addition to loss of these structural components, the shape of lips changes with age. In a publication by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it is explained that, “The length of the upper lip increases with age, and this is associated with thinning of the lip and insufficient coverage of the upper teeth.”
Non-surgical lip augmentation
Non-surgical methods of lip augmentation include the use of injectable dermal fillers that contain hyaluronic acid. These are gel-like substances that are injected beneath the skin to restore volume. When facial fillers are used for lip augmentation procedures, a very fine-pointed injection needle is used together with local anesthetic to assure the patient’s comfort. While dermal fillers can be made from many different substances, hyaluronic acid is the most popular.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally produced by the body, found in high concentrations in the skin and inside joints. The role of hyaluronic acid is to increase moisture, retain collagen, and provide elasticity and flexibility. It accomplishes this based on its structure as an anionic, non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan. In simple terms this means it is a large sugar molecule that serves to attract and bind water molecules. A publication in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging explains that when hyaluronic acid draws in water, it has been shown to create a swelling pressure or turgor that enables the hyaluronic acid complex to withstand compressive forces. Thus, it has been found useful as a filler in treating some of the signs of aging. Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers that can been used for lip augmentation include JUVÉDERM or Restylane.
JUVÉDERM – Currently, the JUVÉDERM collection offers two formulations for the lips: JUVÉDERM Ultra XC and JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA XC.
The Ultra XC product adds fullness to the lips, whether your lips have thinned over time or you simply want fuller lips. VOLBELLA XC is able to add subtle volume to lips and soften the appearance of vertical lip lines due to its formulation with VYCROSS. VYCROSS is a proprietary technology that blends different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid which contributes to the gel’s duration. Both products provide natural looking results that last up to one year.
Restylane Silk – Restylane Silk is an FDA-approved hyaluronic acid filler that is specifically designed for lip augmentation and the smoothing of wrinkles around the mouth. This product provides precise lip shaping and line control by using smaller, smoother hyaluronic acid particles than those used in other Restylane products. The result? Fuller, smoother lips while still maintaining your natural look.
Surgical lip augmentation
There are two main surgical lip augmentation procedures: autologous fat transplantation and a lip lift.
Autologous fat transplantation is a surgical procedure that involves harvesting fat through liposuction or excision from other areas of the body, which is then placed in the lips to restore volume. An article published in BMC Research Notes explains that this procedure is readily available, inexpensive, host compatible and can be harvested easily and repeatedly when needed, without promoting allergies or foreign body reactions. However, the disadvantages of using this material are its high viscosity and lower rates of success, especially when used for changes that occur due to aging.
Lip shortening surgery, or a lip lift, generally refers to an upper lip lift. The procedure involves removing a small strip of skin at the base of the nose, which elevates the position of the upper lip. Lip asymmetry is addressed by adjusting the amount of skin removed. The result is a more youthful shape to the lip.
Which lip augmentation treatment is best for you?
Since many lip augmentation treatments exist, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessica Krant would be happy to discuss and explain these options to enable you to obtain the fullness you desire. Contact Dr. Krant for a consultation at her NYC office.