Turns out that there are a lot of Americans wanting bigger lips. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there has been a 50% jump in the number of lip injections done in the United States since 2000.Right now, it is currently the second fastest growing facial procedure with over 27,000 performed last year. That translates to about one lip augmentation every 20 minutes.
While certainly part of the reason for such a jump is due to aesthetic trends (can anyone say Kardashian?), the other is the advent of new fillers like Volbella, the first filler specifically designed for treating the lips. Board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Sean Doherty of Boston and Dr. Craig Colville of Toledo discuss the pros and cons of Volbella and who makes the ideal candidate.
What is Volbella?
Volbella is the newest hyaluronic acid based filler from Allergan, the company that has brought us both Botox and the Juvéderm line of facial fillers, of which Volbella is one. “It is an excellent product for refining the lip, the lines around the lip and giving a little bit of a subtle re-shaping to the lip,” explains Dr. Doherty. FDA approved for adding volume to the lips and for treating the perioral lines around the mouth, one of the best things about Volbella is that it combines the wrinkle-filling advantages of a thinner filler with the long-lasting results of a thicker, heavier filler. In clinical studies, the improvements from Volbella lasted for about a year. It is able to achieve this by combining two different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid with a patented technology called Vycross.
The important thing for surgeons who are using Volbella is to pick the right patient. Women who want really full, voluptuous lips are not going to be happy with Volbella. For them, Juvéderm and Restylane are going to deliver better results. Volbella is really “more for refinement,” says Doherty, and Dr. Colville agrees. He likes the fact that it gives him another tool in his arsenal for treating fine lines.
There have really only been two fillers in the United States that address fine lines so Volbella is, “a definite addition… While it’s not about a lot of lip volume, it’s about a hydrated look.” And as we all know, properly hydrated skin is plumper skin. And plumper skin is more youthful looking skin.
Who is the Ideal Volbella Candidate?
As with any cosmetic procedure, the right product for your lip augmentation is really going to depend on your anatomy and your needs. The ideal patient for Volbella is:
- A patient who was born with nice lip volume, but has simply lost a little lip plumpness with age.
- An ex-smoker with a lot of vertical smoking or lipstick lines around the mouth.
- Someone who desires a hydrated look to the lip, like you are wearing permanent lip gloss, but is wary of that overly plumped, “fish lips” look
With ex-smokers, the advantage of Volbella is that it allows your surgeon to smooth out those vertical lines that form around the mouth due to the sucking motion of smoking without adding the kind of volume that can make your lips look “done”. We’ve all seen way too many of those patients who have overdone their lips to the point where it distorts the entire harmony of the face. This product was specifically designed to avoid that look.
While men do occasionally come into Dr. Colville’s practice asking about lip augmentation, most of his patients for this procedure are women. Many of his lip augmentation patients will come in saying, “Well, I never smoked.” They can’t understand why they have these lines when they’ve always taken such good care of their health.
Sadly, vertical lines around the lips and loss of volume are not just caused by smoking. Over time, the underlying structures of our skin begin to deteriorate. If you think of the face as a house, it is as if the foundation begins to sink and the paint starts to peel away. Things like proper skincare and lasers can help with the paint, but the foundation is another story. The great thing about any filler such as Volbella is that it allows the surgeon to shore up your foundation without surgery.
With the minimal downtime required, you can even have your Volbella treatment done during your lunch hour. While bruising and swelling are common side effects of any injectable product, due to Volbella’s Vycross technology, when it is injected slowly, there seems to be less bruising than with other HA injectables. The only patients who should avoid Volbella are those with skin irregularities caused by something like radiation or patients who gets cold sores. In the latter case, they should pre-treated so that the injection does not cause an outbreak.