Few people want to be described as having thin lips. The phrase “thin lipped” can be used to describe a person who doesn’t have much to say or someone who doesn’t look friendly or happy. While almost no one wants to be known as the thin-lipped person, as people get older, some volume loss is to be expected in the lip area. Along with losing plumpness in the lips, the distance between the base of the nose and the top lip can become longer, making the face look more drawn and the lips look thinner.
If you are unhappy with the plumpness of your lips, you have several options to give them a boost. Some options are quick but temporary. Others involve a longer, more complicated process, but are generally permanent.
A Quick Boost
Hyaluronic fillers, such as Restylane and Juvederm offer the quickest solution to thin lips. A surgeon injects the filler into the lips and can add volume or shape to the area. Depending on how much volume a patient wants, the surgeon can adjust the amount of filler used. In most cases, the results are subtle and natural looking. The hyaluronic acid used is typically thin enough to spread through the lips easily, avoiding the unnatural “duck” lips look.
Usually, the process of filling in the lips with hyaluronic acid takes about 15 minutes. Most patients are able to go back to their regular life right away, with minimal pain or discomfort. As an added benefit, the results from the injections are visible right away. The downside is that the results are temporary and usually last for about nine months. If a patient likes the look, he or she can repeat the injections.
Thinking Long Term
If you find that you like the way your lips look with fillers, but are hoping for a more permanent solution, fat grafting might be the better pick for you. Unlike hyaluronic acid fillers, the results from fat grafting, also called fat transfer, are permanent.
Fat grafting is a bit more involved as a procedure than an injectable filler. The first step of the process is to take fat from one area of the body, such as the thighs or hips. The fat comes from the patient’s own body, so there is no risk of an allergic reaction or of the lips rejecting it.
Once the fat is harvested, it is cleaned to remove any impurities or blood, then is placed in a syringe and injected into the lips. While the results from the treatment are usually permanent, a surgeon may inject a bit more fat than needed, as up to 50 percent of it might be reabsorbed by the body. Depending on how your body responds, you might need an additional touch-up procedure to get your lips to look the way you want.
Since fat transfer involves surgery in the form of liposuction, the recovery time from the procedure is a bit longer than the recovery from an injectable filler. You may need to take about a week off from work and might have to wait several weeks before you can participate in vigorous activities again.
Lift and Smooth
Another way to enhance the lip area and make the lips look plumper is to perform a lip lift. A lip lift is a surgical procedure that involves making an incision just under the nose or along the top of the lip, and pulling the skin between the nose and upper lip up. Lifting the skin pulls the upper lip up, so that more of it is visible, making it look fuller. Removing extra skin from between the nose and the lip can also create a more youthful look by smoothing out lines and wrinkles and shrinking the space between the two.
Although the results from a lip lift are usually permanent, it can leave a scar, as the incision is made directly under the nose or on the top of the lip. You can cover up the scar with makeup after the incision has healed. Some patients find that the scar is small enough to be barely visible.
Whether you just want a quick fix to thin lips or are looking for something more permanent, you have several options. If you aren’t sure which is right for you, Dr. George Bitar and Dr. Robert Centeno at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, in the Washington, DC area, can offer advice to help you decide. To schedule a consultation with either surgeon, call (703) 206-0506 today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.