Many historians often reference Cleopatra (69 BC – 30 BC) as having used crushed beetles and ants along with red clay, henna, iodine and seaweed to create a red ink-like substance to apply to her lips. We have come a long way in our quest to redden and plump this vital component of our facial anatomy and aesthetic. Our lips are used to convey to the world much about our current emotional state. At the most cursory level, when we are happy we smile making our appearance more pleasant and inviting. Of course when displeased, our countenance is reflected with downward placement of our lips/mouth or firming them to show less upper and lower lip vermillion (the main bulk of the lip that we see). We constantly use our mouths and lips consciously and subconsciously to communicate with those who are around us.
With all of this known, there is little surprise as to why for centuries and even today we use the latest science and technology of our time to accentuate this vital facial feature. Unfortunately, in the world of cosmetic surgery there are often cases of patients seeking drastic changes and certainly doctors willing to do those cases. There are many motivating factors on both ends, but the goal for any aesthetic/cosmetic change should always include safety first. With the recent renewed interest in lip rejuvenation, it seems imperative to discuss the importance of how to optimize the chances of you having the sultry smackers you have always wanted.
Safe ways to have “kissable” lips whether you are in your 20’s or 80’s are first and foremost to pucker up and embrace your own natural lips. If you insist on having fuller and plumper lips, then the safe way to approach this would be to have an experienced plastic surgeon or dermatologist inject a hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal filler like Belotero, Juvederm Ultra, or Restylane Silk. The procedure generally takes around 15-30 minutes and is done in the comfort of the office. My patients routinely have this done on a lunch break, after work, or on a Saturday before heading out for the rest of their day. They go about their normal routines, though, I do recommend not exercising right after or for a day or so to limit the amount of swelling and increased risk of bruising.
Patients often ask me about more permanent solutions to lip enhancement. As most individuals recognize, the majority of dermal fillers do eventually wear off. Injectables have become the gold standard for lip enhancement, however. HA fillers are easy to work with and can be molded almost like clay after being injected (before they fully set). Interestingly, the permanent or semi-permanent surgical options like injecting collagen, implanting Gore-Tex [polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)], inserting a sheet of acellular dermal matrix (cadaver skin), injecting silicone, and injecting your own fat have been performed for years. It was from the problems resulting from these options that injecting HA fillers spawned. Every few months I have patients who call my office asking whether or not they can come in to have silicone cut out of their lips or a Gore-Tex graft removed.
Well-defined lips can be obtained by safely having an HA filler injected into them. I suggest starting conservatively, letting the swelling and occasional bruising resolve and then consider more filler 1-2 weeks later if you are not fully satisfied. Remember, it is always easier to add more, even though HA fillers can be dissolved pretty quickly if you are not happy. When lip filler is appropriately injected, the goals are to accentuate all parts of the lip anatomy. Many patients seeking lip filler neglect to have the necessary amount injected in the LOWER lip in order to maintain proportions. The upper lip should rest on lower lip, like your head resting on your pillow. The Cupid’s Bow and the associated central lip tubercle (center of the pouty part of the upper lip) can be improved with filler along with the corners of your mouth.
Avoid “fish-lips” by having your lips injected by a well-respected plastic surgeon or dermatologist in your area. Ask him or her what their idea of nice lips look like and see if it matches your expectation. Look at his/her staff’s lips. Remember, this is elective and meant to be a positive experience. This is not life saving cardiac surgery. If you are not comfortable with the doctor or his/her idea of aesthetics, thank them for their time and find someone else. A week does not go by without me seeing someone who wants to have her lips “undone” and start over. This is more costly than having them done correctly the first time.
In the end, lip enhancement can complement one’s face very well. The actual injection won’t migrate into other parts of your face, but it will likely just add to you overall aesthetic. I always error on the side of caution, so this one facial feature does not overwhelm your face and draw unnecessary attention. Take your time with this procedure. Enjoy the process and work with someone you feel safe and comfortable. Finally, share your smile with the world. I am no history scholar, but I would hope that Cleopatra would have wanted you to do the same.
For more information contact Dr. Shridharani at Luxurgery located at 800A Fifth Avenue (street level).