If you want to know what to expect of your pout after a lip enhancement procedure, think Goldie Hawn in “The First Wives Club.” Plump, sure — bee-stung and swollen, absolutely, says Dr. Lee Hang-Fu, of Aesthetic Avenue in Fairview Park.
“I use that movie as an example of a postop look,” Hang-Fu says, describing what patients should expect when they get lip service, whether injections of synthetic fillers or their own body fat. “It’s hard to eat for the first four to six hours while numbing wears off, and the first week they will look like Goldie Hawn.”
The second week? “They look much better and presentable to friends and family,” Hang-Fu confirms. “The third week, they love their lips. The fourth week, their lips lose some [fullness] and are usually 40 percent bigger than what they started with.”
Hang-Fu says most patients who refer to celebrities to describe their ideal “after,” name Angelina Jolie. “I think it’s a bit too much, but hers are natural,” he remarks.
That said, Hang-Fu notes that lips tend to thin out as we age, so a little lip service will keep kissers full. “If you want to maintain your lips, you may want to get them injected starting anywhere from age 30,” he says.
Though patients shouldn’t expect to mimic a serious pout if they’re equipped with tiny, bow-like lips. Juicy Jolie lips won’t fit every woman’s face, emphasizes Dr. Michael Wojtanowski, Ohio Clinic for Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery, Westlake.
Bigger is not better. “Someone with tiny, tight lips can’t be made to look like that,” Wojtanowski says, emphasizing proportion and realistic goals. “There isn’t enough give in lip tissue and [lips that size] would be disproportionate to the rest of the face.”
What’s so appealing about the Jolie look, anyway? Dr. Richard Gentile of Facial Plastics & Aesthetic Laser Center in Boardman, says rising stars often become plastic surgery pinups. So some patients are seeking Scarlett Johansson’s look (from the movie “Match Point”) rather than the popular Jolie pout. “Her lips are less extravagant,” Gentile notes.
Most patients who desire fuller lips don’t turn to Hollywood smiles, but instead complain that they don’t have lips, Hang-Fu says. Many of his patients are age 40 and older and many want to erase wrinkles or bleeding lines. “Smokers also tend to get a lot of wrinkling around the lips,” he says.
[Collagen implants can be made from purified "bovine," or cow skin (www.plasticsurgety.org). In 2004, filler injections were one of the most popular facial plastic surgery procedure, following chemical peels (www.facemd.org).]
Personal Plumper — Hang-Fu pleases patients when he tells them, “I love fat!”
He prefers to inject “personal material” into patients’ lips as opposed to degradable synthetic fillers. “I think your material is best, and you have plenty of that material,” he says. (He probably doesn’t emphasize the “plenty” part to patients.)
Fat removed from the thighs and abdomen can be injected into the lips as natural filler.
Injections will have 40 percent permanency when fat is prepared properly; Hang-Fu does this by draining it on a piece of gauze before inserting it in a syringe. On the other hand, fillers last four to six months; collagen — an “older filler” — lasts about three months, Hang-Fu says.
New Technology — Dr. Lu-Jean Feng, medical director of The Lu-Jean Feng Clinic in Cleveland, says Restylane and Radiesse are two filler technologies often used for lip and facial enhancement procedures. Restylane lasts up to six months and can cost $300 to $1,100, depending on how much filler a patient needs. Radiesse lasts longer — one to two years, she says — and costs $250 to $1,350.