March 16, 2010 -- Want pouty lips? A new study shows that a lip implant with skin and neck muscle grafts may bring good results.
The surgery can be done at the same time as a facelift, making lips appear fuller and less stretched. Results last at least two years, say Anurag Agarwal, MD, and colleagues at the Aesthetic Surgery Center in Naples, Fla.
Their study is published in the March/April issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.
"Since ancient times, women have used plant dyes and colored clays to enhance their lips," but the quest for permanent lip augmentation "has been fraught with challenges," they note.
As people age, the lips flatten and lengthen, decreasing the amount of pink tissue that shows.
These changes often lead patients to seek lip-augmentation procedures. But lip procedures can lead to asymmetry, the formation of cysts, and an unnatural feel or appearance.
Plumping Lips With Muscle
Agarwal and colleagues say in a news release that they achieved good results in 25 lip-augmentation patients by using parts of the women's own muscles that run along the side of their necks, as well as the connective tissue, called fascia, that overlies it.
The women had follow-up at one year or later to check for changes. After an average of two years, the amount of visible pink tissue increased 20%-24% for the upper and lower lips, the researchers say.
Also, the average projection of the lips increased about four one-hundredths of an inch. Patients in general were pleased with the results, the researchers say. However, one patient wanted additional augmentation with an injectable gel.
The surgeons say the tissue used in the implants can be removed during a face-lift with few complications, leaving no deformities in the contour of the neck, limitations in head movement, neck pain, or nerve injuries.
"This postoperative recovery [from the surgical technique] is straightforward," the researchers write. "After the first month of lip swelling, the patient should expect that the lips will be slightly swollen."
The researchers conclude that "with careful patient selection and surgical technique," the new method may be "a valuable tool when treating the aging lip."