Do you like the way your lips look with filler, but wish there was a way to make the volume last longer? While lip lift surgery can reveal more of your lip or enhance its shape, most plastic surgeons do not have a surgical solution to add volume to small or weathered-looking lips. To increase volume, your options are typically limited to temporary dermal fillers, which last an average of 6-14 months.
While filler is a great option for those who want temporary volume, we also offer a surgical lip augmentation with AlloDerm™ RTM, a procedure whose results last an average of 5-7 years or more. Below, Dr. Schlesinger answers questions about this cutting-edge technique to achieve beautiful, lasting lip volume.
AlloDerm is an acellular dermal matrix (ADM), or a tissue graft, adapted from cadaver tissues and purified to remove any cells (hence “acellular”). What’s left is a sterile sheet of connective fibers used as a surgical tool in a wide variety of surgeries, both plastic and reconstructive; it is often used to repair skin after burns, as well as to help support tissues in breast reconstruction surgery after cancer.
ADM can be cut to any size or shape and then used to create a matrix or “scaffold” where tissue growth is needed. This scaffold guides the body to repair its own tissues and also may be used to protect tissues during the healing process. The surrounding tissues naturally integrate the ADM.
AlloDerm lip augmentation involves implanting a custom-sized natural tissue matrix into your upper and lower lips to increase lip volume. After surgery, your tissues integrate with the implant, so results are lasting.
While a lip lift affects the shape or height of your lips, AlloDerm lip augmentation gives your lips long-lasting volume.
Here’s how surgery works: first, we cut down a piece of AlloDerm to match your lips. You will have very small incisions placed at either end of each lip, and we use a special device to pass the implant into your lip. We will close each of the 4 incisions with a temporary suture. A few weeks later, you’ll be ready to go out into the world with more plump, volumized lips.
On average, my Hololulu lip augmentation results with AlloDerm last 5-7 years, and some patients have maintained results for 12 years and counting. Other lip augmentation techniques do not last this long; for example, lip augmentation with lip filler lasts about 6 months to 2 years at most.
Expect swelling and bruising as your lips recover from surgery. To help manage both of these, I instruct my patients to begin, the day after surgery, using a topical ointment that contains 50% dimethyl sulfoxide—a potent medication for promoting speedy healing and reducing swelling.
Your stitches will come out in 3 days, and it will take about 5-7 days before you see the incisions close up at the corners of your mouth. Your lips will look very full at this time due to the swelling. For this reason, most patients prefer to stay out of the public eye for a few weeks post-procedure, though this varies patient by patient.
Yes, lip filler can be used in combination with AlloDerm lip augmentation. This is quite common: lip augmentation surgery creates a very natural-looking volume level, so just as patients with normal-sized lips get filler because they desire a temporarily voluminous look, you may desire even more volume at some point in time after lip augmentation surgery. In these cases, we recommend Restylane® Kysse™, a flexible filler made specifically for the lips, or Juvéderm® Vollure™, a formula that’s less hydrophilic and therefore tends to lead to less swelling.
After surgery, you may choose to add even more plumpness with lip filler.
Yes, it is very common to combine a lip lift procedure with a surgical lip augmentation. The procedure can be performed at the same time as the lip augmentation, and requires an additional incision placed just below the nose. This procedure combination is especially helpful for patients who show very little teeth when smiling, usually as a result of aging, stretched tissues in the upper lip area. A lip lift helps to raise your lip and allow more teeth to show when you smile. Adding a lip lift to the lip augmentation procedure provides a more comprehensive anti-aging effect, restoring lost volume and making the smile appear more youthful.
Older, outdated methods of lip augmentation used AlloDerm in such a way that led to short-lived results, giving AlloDerm a bad reputation. The ineffective method for AlloDerm lip augmentation involved rolling up a very thin layer of ADM tissue into a tube-like implant and inserting this tube into each lip. Unfortunately, this thick roll of tissue wasn’t easily integrated with surrounding tissues, and rather than increasing lip volume long-term, these implants simply dissolved and were re-absorbed by the body within a couple of years. These lip augmentations were no more lasting than today’s dermal fillers.
Choose a surgeon who is well-versed in newer techniques for AlloDerm lip augmentation, and who has given other patients attractive, long-lasting results.
But yesterday’s failures led to today’s highly sought-after technique, following the same principle but with a different surgical method. The results of the older method still looked very good, so I tried AlloDerm lip augmentation a different way. My technique does not involve rolling the ADM before inserting it into the lips. Instead, I begin with a thicker layer of ADM and cut it to size for each lip. I have found that this method allows the ADM to integrate successfully, creating a long-term augmented lip.
To be a good candidate for surgical lip augmentation, you should be prepared for a lasting increase in lip volume, have no history of herpes lesions around the mouth or cold sores, and desire a natural-looking—not dramatically large or “over-filled”—appearance. There is a limit to how much volume can be added during this procedure; if too large of an AlloDerm piece is placed in the lip, then the implant will not “take,” and may be reabsorbed by the body. So to enjoy the lasting benefits, it is necessary to limit the volume increase.
Most of our patients are comfortable wearing this natural look everywhere they go, including in professional circumstances. For a more dramatic, full, and pouty look, patients may want to add injections of lip filler after their procedure.
Lip augmentation with filler costs from $500 to $2000 and lasts 6 months-2 years. Surgical lip augmentation with AlloDerm costs from $3,000 to $6,000 and lasts about 5-7 years, however, the technique used can affect the duration of your results. To get a long-lasting lip augmentation, it’s key to choose a surgeon who is well-versed in the use of AlloDerm for lip augmentation and understands newer techniques.
Dr. Schlesinger has many years of experience offering plastic surgery for the face, breast, and body in Honolulu. He listens to patients’ goals, and helps you truly understand which procedure options will achieve the results that you want. Call us today at 808.597.8835 or request a consultation online.