How effective is lip augmentation at giving you fuller lips?
Picture this: it’s 2015 and you’re having a sleepover with your friends when someone suggests you do the Kylie Jenner lip challenge for some at home lip augmentation. You track down a shot glass, insert your lips, and suck. Next thing you know, your lips are swollen, bruised, and probably mildly damaged. At the time, people would do anything just to achieve Kylie’s signature pouty, voluminous lip look. (It’s me. I am people.)
Flash forward to today, where Kylie’s lip challenge is a thing of the past, but the popularity of lip fillers is ever-so-present; the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reported that fillers were the second-most received non-surgical procedure in 2020, only after Botox. That being said, it looks like we’re still chasing after Kylie’s dreamy look seven years later, so it’s time for the rundown: how effective is lip augmentation at giving you fuller lips?
- Lip augmentation is a procedure that increases the size and volume of your lips that is often done to fix asymmetric lips, give a fuller smile, or simply boost someone’s confidence.
- The main types of lip augmentation are synthetic fillers and fat grafting.
- Lip augmentation definitely has its perks (think boosted confidence and self-esteem) but can get costly very quickly.
What is lip augmentation?
Lip augmentation, more commonly known as lip enhancement or just lip filler, is a form of non-surgical cosmetic procedure that is used to temporarily (or permanently) change the shape and size of your lips by adding volume. Treatment is used to give patients their ideal lips, whether that means giving their lips a fuller look, establishing their smile, or even turning the corners of the mouth up.
Some of the main reasons people decide to get lip filler are:
- Their lips get thinner as they age
- Their lips are asymmetric
- Their lips disappear when they smile
- To boost their confidence by fixing a personal insecurity
Regardless of why people decide to undergo lip augmentation, it’s important to note that it is an entirely personal choice; one that should be made by you (and only you!) and should not be done for others or because of others. Make sure to do your research prior, and keep realistic expectations in mind when deciding to undergo the procedure.
It's also important to note that the "full lip beauty ideal" is something derived from POC features, especially Black women. Lip augmentation can be done for any number of personal reasons, but we should also recognize that the process centers on making people (traditionally white people who have thinner lips) feel beautiful for features that have been historically degraded in other ethnicities.
If you’re wondering if you could be a good candidate for lip augmentation, the answer is likely, yes! Enhancement can be a great idea for anyone not satisfied with the shape or size of their lips. As long as you are in good general health (and have some extra cash to spend) you likely qualify.
Options to Consider
There are two main types of lip augmentation: synthetic filler (which includes hyaluronic acid dermal fillers and collagen dermal fillers) and fat grafting. Let’s break down each type.
1. Synthetic filler
Synthetic filler is likely what we all think of when we think of lip filler. It involves receiving injections in your lips to create a plumped and pouty look. One treatment is usually sufficient to achieve your ideal look, but it doesn’t last forever.
Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers are the most common kind. On average, one syringe (1 milliliter) of filler costs around $650, and, also on average, most patients receive anywhere from 0.5 to 1 milliliter per treatment. Because hyaluronic acid is found naturally in our bodies, allergic reactions are highly unlikely. Results last anywhere from 6 months to a year depending on how fast your body metabolizes the filler.
Collagen dermal filler was the first type of lip filler created and approved by the FDA in 1981. The collagen is obtained from bovine tissue, and, as a result of a multitude of allergic reactions to the filler, it is used much less frequently now. Results from this filler typically last longer but they also take longer to develop after receiving the injections (meaning results can last a few years, but it often takes weeks to see the final outcome.)
This filler typically costs anywhere from $400 to $800 per treatment.
2. Fat grafting
Fat grafting is less commonly thought of when lip filler comes to mind. This more invasive procedure is considered relatively “permanent,” thus, requires the most spending.
Here’s what this procedure involves: your health care provider will use liposuction to extract fat tissue from one part of your body, typically your abdomen (under local anesthesia.) The fat is then purified and injected into your lips to plump them up. Because the injection is completely natural, this procedure offers virtually no chance of an allergic reaction. The downside? The entire process usually takes longer due to the liposuction step.
The other downside? The dollar signs. This procedure starts at around $2500 and can cost up to $10,000. However, it requires little to no upkeep. (So you can pick your battles.)
Realistically, the type of filler chosen can depend entirely on the goal for the treatment, for example, if you’re looking to even out the shape of your lips or fix the structure itself.
What to expect
If you decide to pursue the option of getting HA dermal filler or collagen filler in your lips, here’s a little bit of what you can expect when the day comes to get your plumper pout.
- First, your healthcare provider will apply a topical anesthetic to numb your lips and make the process as comfortable as possible. This process will likely take 15-30 minutes to complete.
- The filler is then injected with a (very) tiny needle into the desired areas. This can include any and all parts of your lips - anywhere from the edges, to your cupid’s bow, and the corners of your mouth. (You shouldn’t feel any pain aside from a small pinch. It is also normal that your eyes water as a natural reaction.)
- The material is then gently massaged into your lips to allow them to fully absorb the filler.
- Your healthcare provider will send you home with ice and aftercare directions.
Let’s talk about after the treatment (and the elephant in the room.) Bruising and swelling will likely occur and will typically last for 24-48 hours, but keep in mind that it can last up to a week; so make sure you aren’t heading to any weddings, dates, or red carpet events directly before! (Unless you want to look like you just tried the Kylie lip challenge.)
To allow for the best healing process, it is recommended to:
- Ensure you’re applying ice
- Avoid balms, lipsticks, or any other lip products for the first 24-48 hours
- Be cautious when brushing your teeth
- Do your best to avoid touching or puckering your lips (and yes, this includes smooching!)
To keep it simple, I’ve come up with a classic pros and cons list to getting lip augmentation so you can decide for yourself if it's A) effective and B) something you’d be interested in!
- Non-surgical lip augmentation is a quick and easy process! (I would say painless, but that may depend on your pain tolerance.)
- You have the option to choose from a variety of procedures that truly align with your budget and desired outcome; it is customizable
- *Within realistic expectation* you have the opportunity to create your ideal lips and get the smile you’ve always dreamed of
- Lip fillers can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Fillers can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around your mouth.
- If you decide you hate it, they’re reversible. Dissolving lip fillers is relatively easy and costs anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on how many treatments are needed.
- Fillers require touching up pretty frequently (every 6-12 months) and the price tag can add up quickly.
- Some people experience irritation, redness, and discomfort if your body happens to reject the filler or the treatment.
- It may take several procedures to achieve your desired look. (Need I mention the price tag again?)
To no one’s surprise, our favorite influencers, YouTubers, and actors are the ones on the front line for changing the narrative about injectables. What once was a taboo, must-be-kept secret is now a perfectly acceptable social norm (though we should always be wary of why and how we create norms). There’s no need to tip toe around the ‘B’ word (*cough* Botox) or the ‘F’ word anymore (I’m talking about filler.) You do you, boo.
Written by Morgan Taylor