BIG FAT LIP SERVICE – BY DIMA ALI, M.D.
So what’s the big deal with big lips? How big is too big? I think we can all agree that full, pink lips are a sign of youthfulness, sexiness and, anthropologically speaking, fertility. Whether we do it consciously or not, our society is obsessed with attracting a mate to procreate, and nothing says “PICK ME!” like a pair of luscious, full lips adorned with shimmering lip gloss.
Before I address the popular injection method for achieving a sexy pout, I’d like to say a few words about the products out there that claim to be the “next generation of lip plumpers infused with revolutionary technology to plump lips instantly.” Some of the more popular name brands include: “Lip Fusion XL”, “DuWop Venom Gloss”, and “Too Faced Lip Injection Lip Plumping Treatment”. They each have their claim to fame and their loyal followers. The other major concept in topically plumping lips is to apply irritating ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon and even red pepper to stimulate lip swelling. Nicotinic Acid, commonly known as Niacin or Vitamin B3 is another common ingredient in lip plumpers intended to eliminate the need for needles and doctors by increasing vasodilation, or blood flow, to the lip tissue. Results last a few hours at best.
With regard to injectables, my filler of choice is derived hyaluronic acid (H.A.), a natural sugar that has an enormous capacity to retain water and thus act as a cushion between collagen and elastin cells. Just as H.A. acts as a “shock absorber” in our joints, it can act as a filler to plump up wrinkles such as the nasolabial folds (smile lines) and restore a youthful appearance to lips. Commonly known fillers including the Restylane family, the Juvaderm family, and more.
If a dramatic enlargement is requested, I will often ask the patient to bring in pictures so that I can get an idea of their expectations. What a patient desires is not always compatible with their facial structure or lip anatomy. So, if you have lips like Mona Lisa and you want lips like Angelia Jolie, you might want to reconsider. Afterall, a filler injected into the lips will obey the space filling laws of physics in much the same way as air blown into a balloon or sausage meat stuffed into a casing. So it’s important to remember the goal: to create an aesthetically pleasing, natural result.
Another reason I like using H.A. fillers is that they come premixed with anesthetic making the treatment very comfortable with skilled hands. Re-treatment is usually only needed 2 or 3 times a year and there is very little “down-time.” Swelling and bruising is usually gone by the second day and many people feel comfortable going back to work or out for the evening the day of treatment.