Of all the effects achievable by aesthetic surgery, few are as simultaneously subtle and powerful as lip augmentation. Fuller, plumper lips connote youth and vitality, and our lips are prone to significant shrinking and wrinkling with age.
At a certain point, all the moisturizers, lip balms, and makeup tricks in the world can’t compensate for overly thin lips, or combat the effects of aging. Fortunately, a wide range of lip fillers have proven themselves to be safe, effective, and direct ways to give lips extra volume. The procedure is safe and painless, but the results can be stunning.
For patients who rush into lip-filler treatment, though, or who are more interested in saving a dollar or two than in having the procedure done correctly, the results can be gravely disappointing. This little guide outlines exactly what prospective patients should expect from lip fillers, and how they can improve their chances of getting precisely the benefits they seek.
What Are Lip Fillers?
Lip fillers are injectable compounds that add volume to lips, restoring youthful plumpness or adding fullness. Some are made from the same naturally occurring compounds as dermal fillers, but are specially formulated for use in the lips. Others are made from materials specifically indicated for use as lip fillers. They are proven to be effective and safe, and incur very little recovery time.
What Different Types of Lip Filler Are There?
Some lip fillers are meant to last only up to a year. Others last much longer, but invite more risk of complications.
Short-term lip fillers include two major types:
- Hyaluronic acid, or HA, fillers are made primarily of glycosaminoglycan polysaccharide, a form of hyaluronic acid found throughout the body. Hyaluronic acid is a magnificent retainer of hydration: each molecule is capable of absorbing 1,000 times its weight in water. This makes it an important factor in keeping the skin supple, and a crucial contributor to the shape of delicate areas of the face, such as the lips. Because hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the skin, its use as a dermal filler is extremely safe, and free of the complications presented by some other approaches.
- Poly-L lactic acid (PLA) is a biocompatible compound used to provide shape and character to parts of the face. Along with its ability to build new contours, PLA encourages the growth of new collagen: the very protein whose characteristics PLA mimics. PLA is designed to be naturally broken down after year or so and gently disposed of by the skin’s natural functions; by this time, it has stimulated the development of enough new collagen to at least partially replace the original injection.
Longer-term lip fillers also include two major types:
- Polyacrylamide gel is a cosmetic-grade plastic that has been used for nearly 20 years to increase facial volume. Results of polyacrylamide treatment last longer than those of HA or PLA fillers. Because it remains for so long, polyacrylamide is considered a semipermanent solution. This means fewer touchups or re-injections, but also means a more difficult recovery in case of complications.
- Liquid silicone is a permanent means of adding volume to the lips. Its durability makes it a popular choice for patients who want to avoid repeated procedures, but with extra longevity come extra opportunities for things to go amiss.
What are the Benefits of Lip Fillers?
- They allow doctors to meet patients’ exact needs. An experienced aesthetic doctor can use lip fillers to achieve any goal a patient requests, from restoring youthful volume and plumpness to adding volume where nature forgot to.
- The procedure is proven and safe. Temporary or permanent, lip-filler injections are minimally invasive and extremely safe, and incur very little discomfort or downtime.
- They restore a youthful appearance. Among the clearest, most dramatic signs of age is a thinning and wrinkling of the lips. Fillers greatly reduce wrinkling while restoring lost volume to lips.
- Some offer side benefits. Along with the aesthetic improvements they offer, HA lip fillers restore hydration to aging and dry lips, improving their health while imparting a healthy glow to complement the restored volume.
Where are Lip Fillers Offered in Singapore?
Unlike some jurisdictions, Singapore allows only certified doctors to perform lip-injection procedures. Some work in clinics, while others maintain private practices. Diligent research, both online and directly with former patients, can guide lip-filler candidates to the right physician for their needs.
In unqualified hands, lip-filler surgery can be greatly disappointing and even dangerous. If a salon offers lip-filler injections performed by unqualified personnel, it hasn’t made much of an investment in the effort. That could mean second-rate materials and shoddy work. Your face deserves better than that.
What Should New Patients Consider Before Asking About Lip Fillers?
Any aesthetic surgery begins with a full, frank consultation with a doctor. New patients should be ready to describe in detail exactly what they hope to achieve, and to illustrate the desired results if possible with pictures representing the look they want.
During this consultation, new patients should describe any allergies or other pre-existing conditions, even if they seem not to be pertinent. This includes general problems with sensitive skin.
How are Lip-Filler Procedures Performed?
On the day of the procedure, the patient’s skin is cleaned and sanitized, and a topical numbing cream applied to the lips. The doctor then injects small quantities of filler on multiple areas of the lips, sometimes manually working them into proper position.
The procedure is not painful, though patients typically feel a slight tingling sensation. In fact, some patients, especially those getting follow-up injections, forego the topical anesthetic altogether, with no significant increase in pain.
The entire procedure, from preparation to leaving the office, rarely takes more than an hour. The surgery itself often takes no more than ten minutes. Downtime is minimal at most: many patients receive lip-filler injections over their lunch breaks, and are free to resume their normal schedules immediately after leaving the clinic.
Results are immediate, though it may take 24 hours for the desired affect to present itself. Unless the patient has asked for a dramatic change, lip-filler procedures do not produce glaringly obvious alterations: lips simply seem more full and plump, and the patient’s face subtly improved. That said, patients should be prepared in the day or two following surgery to follow up with their doctor.
In the hours immediately following the procedure, injection sites may display some short-term swelling. The day after the procedure, some patients are able to feel the injected material as it relaxes into place. This is totally normal, and under normal circumstances lip filler spreads itself naturally within a day or two into exactly the shape the patient intended.
Doctors typically recommend refraining from intense physical activities for a few days, and to sleep on the side or stomach. While to all appearances lip filler usually settles into place within hours of the procedure, it can take weeks of unobservable shifting before it finds its final home.
How Long Do Lip Fillers Last?
Temporary lip fillers typically last for 6 months to a year. HA fillers last longer than PLA, but PLA’s collagen-inducing qualities may extend visible results beyond the one-year mark. Because many companies produce both HA and PLA, patients can improve their chances of success, and the longevity of their lip treatment, by choosing their doctor carefully. Experienced doctors are likelier to use reliable products distributed by reputable companies. Both HA and PLA procedures may be repeated safely once the original effects have begun to subside.
Semipermanent lip fillers can last for five years, and typically begin to show signs of wear after three or four years. They are more durable in part because they are made of tougher materials, which can be an issue over time: as the effects of age begin to shrink lips’ volume, semipermanent and silicone fillers may become visually evident, appearing as lumpy or swollen areas of the lip.
It may seem counterintuitive, but HA and PLA fillers, which are specifically intended not to produce lasting results, often convey the best, most natural appearance over long stretches of time. With each touchup or re-injection, doctors can make a fresh assessment of the patient’s needs, and can administer exactly the type and volume of filler needed to reach the patient’s goals. The result is a bit more bother, but a more consistent appearance over time.
Can the Procedure be Reversed?
Patients who are unhappy with the results of lip-filler treatment can have their injections reversed or removed. HA filler just happens to have an antidote, hyaluronidase, which dissolves hyaluronic acid quickly and safely. The reversal procedure and schedule of downtime are similar to those of the original treatment.
Semipermanent and permanent fillers may be removed surgically. Polyacrylamide injections that have remained for long stretches of time, and silicone injections that have become damaged, may be difficult to remove entirely.
Removing lip filler is sometimes more costly than adding it in the first place, just another reason why patients should communicate regularly with doctors, both in the initial consultation and after the procedure has been performed.
How Much Do Lip Fillers Cost?
In Singapore, lip fillers typically cost $500 to $1,000 per injection. This varies with several factors, including the doctor’s experience, the type and brand of filler used, the patient’s goals, and the number of injections needed to achieve the desired effect.