By Rafael G. Magana, M.D.
One of the most attractive features of a beautiful face is a set of full and healthy lips. They are a synonymous with youth when robust, and a sign of aging as they become thinner and descend with time in part due to the relentless effects of gravity. Many theories as to the reason behind the attractiveness of lips have emerged over the years, but there are objective findings that are self evident in a set of beautiful lips.
6 Characteristics of Beautiful Lips:
-Full and robust lips
-Healthy uniform surface with good hydration
-A distinct Cupids Bow with a defined Vermillion Border
-A ratio of lower to upper lip consistent with the golden number “Phi”
-The lower lip is normally fuller than the upper lip
The upper lip should ideally project approximately 2 mm beyond the lower lip, which, in turn, projects 2 mm beyond the most anterior portion of the chin. The inclination of the lower lip is determined by its fullness, which also affects the appearance of the chin.
It is important to inject the lips so as to maintain the ski-jump edge of the upper lip when augmenting. This anatomical point is known as the Glogau–Klein point or G-K point for short. Aging changes the proportions of the lips as they descend and become thinner.
There are a variety of methods for lip augmentation available in the arsenal of the cosmetic plastic surgeon. Although no fillers are currently approved by the FDA for lip augmentation, use of nonpermanent fillers such as Hyaluronic Acid (HA), is common. HA has the advantage of producing few side effects and being temporary, lasting up to a year.
Permanent solutions with methylmethacrylate (PMMA) and ophtalmic grade silicone are also available, but are not as widely used. These permanent fillers may produce secondary complications such as granulomas, which may require excision (removal) via surgery or liposuction. Fat grafting has gained popularity because it is autologous (from one’s own body) and gives much longer lasting effects.
During your initial consult you should ask everything you can about the procedure, make sure your plastic surgeon addresses any concern you may have regarding lip augmentation. Common questions are related to the shape and size of the augmentation, “Is the procedure painful?” “How long will it take to recover and for the swelling to go down?”
In addition to asking questions, most cosmetic plastic surgeons will evaluate the general health of the patient and take pre-procedure photographs and measurements of your lips. Always tell your surgeon what medications you take, especially any that may be considered blood thinners, such as aspirin.
A mirror should be used for the patient to point out any areas of concern to be addressed on the lips. Make sure that your expectations of the procedure are congruent with what the procedure can provide. Always ask your surgeon what he/she recommends and what you should expect.
Although in the scheme of things, lip augmentation is a smaller less invasive procedure than surgery, it will require some downtime afterward. This is something to consider in the busy hustle and bustle of NYC. I recommend 3-4 days to allow the local swelling to subside.
Unfortunately, not all practitioners are familiar with what conforms to a natural youthful appearance of attractive lips. Simply adding volume to the lips often yields displeasing cosmetic results. Technical knowledge as well as a deep understanding of the regional anatomy is needed to achieve a good result. In addition to the previously mentioned, realistic expectations are equally important. Voluptuous lips are a very desirable trait, but the key to a successful outcome for maximum effect consists in applying “just enough” volume in just the right places. The safe approach to augmenting lips in terms of a natural appearance consists in being conservative. In this particular procedure, sometimes “less is more.”
The key is to always augment the lips with the aim to get a natural appearance… no more and no less.
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