Some Thoughts on the PermaLip

Jennifer Lauren Crawford, MD

Article by
Austin Plastic Surgeon

The desire to have full and youthful lips is not a fad and patients frequently ask about it.  The concept of lip enhancement has been around for quite some time and surgeons have used many different types of materials and surgical techniques in order to achieve it.  The materials used to fill the lip range from temporary injectibles, to a patient’s own fat, to using an expendable tendon from the forearm.  All of these methods work to some degree but often have drawbacks.  The injectable agents are temporary and often disappear within 6 months’ time.  So, to continue the upkeep, a patient will have to periodically undergo a somewhat uncomfortable injection for a significant cost.  Using one’s own tissue can be unpredictable in how much of that tissue survives.  And, the patient can form some significant scarring that limits the stretch and movement of the lips.  When a small tendon is taken from the forearm, the surgeon creates another area that must heal and suffer potential complications.  So, the search has definitely been on for a permanent solution that doesn’t have many of these drawbacks.

In comes the PermaLip implants that are FDA approved for soft tissue augmentation of the face.  These implants are soft silicone packed into tubes that are frequently used in lip augmentation.  They made their first national TV appearance back in 2009 but have been used for this purpose for many years and they have an excellent track record for patient satisfaction.

The implants are soft and mobile.  They are silicone but cannot break or leak.  They are meant to be permanent but can always be removed if a patient desires a return to his or her prior appearance.  They are meant to be a subtle improvement but they do come in 3 different widths to allow for a less or more approach. 

I find that patients of two different types request this procedure.  They are either a younger patient who has always had thin lips and would like a fuller look or they are a slightly older patient upset with the way that aging has thinned her lips over time.  Both types of patients have frequently tried lip injectable treatments with Restylane or another substance and enjoyed the enhancement but are now looking for something more permanent.