Is Permanent Lip Augmentation Still a Thing?

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You know what they say? It’s a mile to your first lip filler treatment and a minute to the second one. Actually, that clever little adage, once related to tattoos, can also sum up the pursuit of fuller lips

While anyone can give their lips a boost using dermal filler, it’s still a temporary solution that needs continual maintenance. So, we have to ask, are there any good permanent solutions, are they safe and do they look good? We went to two lip plumping pros to find out if there is a permanent cure for lip filler fatigue.

Lip Implants: Yay or Nay?
New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD says for lips especially, a permanent solution may not be the best. “As we age, our face changes and our lips begin to change as well. Anytime you put something permanent in the face unless you’re doing a chin implant, it’s never ideal. Especially for the lips because we use them all of the time to speak, to kiss, to drink. With something permanent, you have to consider, what if it doesn't look good? What if it shifts? Then your only recourse is surgical removal.”

Although there have been permanent solutions in the past, including lip implants, Dr. Peredo says filling the lips with something more pliable and allows for a better-looking result. “You want to fill with something soft. People used to use something called SoftForm to enhance the lips. It was an implant you could place in the vermillion border, it almost looked like a little pipe cleaner. It was semi-soft, semi-permanent, but it ended up looking really fake.”

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Adding Fat for Fullness
For patients looking for an option that lasts longer than filler, Dover, OH facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD says he recommends fat: “Whatever fat survives the first few weeks or months, will remain essentially forever,” he says. “I love fat grafting as it is perhaps the only procedure in cosmetic surgery that actually rejuvenates—from the stem cell reaction—the skin and soft tissue around the grafted fat while adding volume to the lips.”

Despite fat grafting’s reputation for being all-natural, Dr. Peredo cautions it can leave patients looking anything but if weight fluctuation is an issue. “The minute you gain weight, you gain it everywhere, including the fat transfer site. This can end up leaving the lips looking over-inflated. So while this option is longer-lasting, it has its own drawbacks.”

Is Temporary Better than Permanent?
Although fillers don’t last forever, both Dr. Peredo and Dr. Hartman agree they are the best choice for lip augmentation, even if you have to make a couple of visits a year to the doctor. “A hyaluronic acid lip filler will typically last for six to nine months before the patient wants to have more filler placed,” says Dr. Hartman. “Conveniently, most of my patients getting lip filler will also be keeping up with their neurotoxin and laser treatments, and facials, peels or skincare products—so they are coming to see me regularly anyway.”

Dr. Peredo says, “If there were a permanent filler that you could maybe reverse with an injection, then that would be different. But right now, we don’t know what future innovations will come that will make lip augmentation last longer. But until we do have something that looks good, is safe and is reversible, I prefer to use dermal fillers on my patients. My best advice is to wait until we have those innovations, because you don’t want to put something in your lips that you will regret later. My best advice is to be patient.”