Lip enhancement is a type of cosmetic surgery that aims to improve the appearance of the lips by increasing their fullness through enlargement. The procedure to enlarge lips can also reduce the fine lines and wrinkles above the top lip, flaws often referred to as smokers lines.

Lip augmentation substances

Bovine collagen requires an allergy test because the material is extracted from bovine hides. It lasts anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months because it is absorbed into the body. However, the allergy test must be observed for 4 weeks.

Autologen is an injectable dermal material made from the patientís own skin. No risk of allergy exists but the results are very temporary because the body quickly absorbs the material.

Dermalogen is taken from the patientís skin. Through a laboratory process is made into a high concentration collagen that can be injected into the lips. Some studies indicate it lasts somewhat longer than collagen.

Alloderm is donor tissue taken from cadavers and then denatured, purified and treated to remove viable cells that could pass along disease. Under a local anesthesia, Alloderm is placed into the mucosa (body of the lips) in small rolls to make them larger. Alloderm can also be placed into the vermillion, (pink area of the lip) to provide definition and a sharper border.

Radiance is a synthetic, laboratory produced solution containing calcium hydroxylapatite suspended in a gel that has been safely used in medicine for years. Some studies indicate Radiance can last between 3 to 5 years.

Expanded polytetrafluoroethylene implants (Gore-Tex, Advanta, UltraSoft and SoftForm) are delivered to surgeons in strips that are 2.4mm and 3.4 mm diameter tubes.


The relative ease of many injections is due to surgeons using tiny 30 and 31 gauge (about as thick as a dozen human hairs) needles that are used to inject the very sensitive lips. Nonetheless, topical anesthesias are often used for lip enhancement procedures.

Fat transfer. Surgeons harvest through liposuction or excision the patientís fat from places on the body where it can be spared and either injected or surgically placed into the lips. Surgical applications usually require general anesthesia.

Restylane , a non-animal, clear gel that is reported to be very close to the hyaluronic acid found naturally in the body. The substance usually lasts 6 months.

Juvederm is extremely chemically close to Restylane; many surgeons report that it is slightly smoother to inject.

Artecoll and ArteFill are not used to inject the body of the lips because the substance is heavy and would show as white through the thin skin of the lips. Additionally, both products contain tiny microspheres (polymethylmethacrylate) which remain in the face permanently. In cases where Artecoll has been used around the edges of the lips to remove fine lines and wrinkles, some patients have reported annoying nodules or small lumps. In a few cases, surgery was required to remove the Artecoll.

Fat grafting of the lip is 1 of the best methods of maintaining semi-permanent fuller and softer lips.

Successful lip augmentation is highly dependent on theskill of the surgeon . So select a surgeon with many years of experience injecting the lips of many types of patients.

Risks and side effects

When the lips are overfilled, the results can be comic, often supplying fodder to tabloid newspapers and offbeat websites. Overaggressive injections can lead to lumpiness while too little can result in ridges.

Common reactions can range from redness, swelling or itching at the injection sites. Other possible complications include bleeding, uneven lips, movement of the implants or extrusion, when an implant breaks through the outermost surface of the skin. The usual, expected swelling and bruising can last from several days to a week.

Some patients are allergic to the common local anesthetics like lidocaine and probably should not consider lip injections. Some patients react badly to the skin test patients must take before receiving collagen.

Patients who should not go for lip augmentation are those who have active skin conditions like cold sores, blood clotting problems, infections, scarring of the lips or diseases like diabetes or lupus that cause slower healing.

Patients with facial nerve disorders, severe hypertension or recurrent herpes simplex lesions should also not go for lip augmentation. As in all surgeries, smokers complicate completion of their procedure as well as the speed of healing.

Fat transfer can last longer than other injected materials but can have lumping or scarring effects. Since the fat must be harvested from another area of the patientís body, it which leaves another, albeit tiny, surgical wound.

Gore-tex, despite its impressive rates of success in lip augmentation and other procedures, is nonetheless a foreign body which bears a slight risk of becoming infected or rejected.

This page has been updated on the 2017-12-18.