You probably expect to get some wrinkles on your skin as you age, especially on your face. Crow's feet and laugh lines around the eyes and cheekbones are particularly common, but other areas are also prone to wrinkling. Your lips are no exception. Although they aren't likely to look like prunes, your lips aren't immune to the aging process. As you get older, lips tend to thin and lose their fullness.
If you're not quite ready to lose your lips' plumpness, you might want to consider a filler. Many of the wrinkle fillers that attempt to fix marionette lines or crow's feet can work to fill out lips as well. If you're thinking of getting lip-filler injections, be sure to discuss your options with your doctor; some fillers, including those that contain collagen, are better suited for lips than other types of treatments.
Collagen is something that's already in your skin naturally. Human skin consists of three layers -- the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. Collagen is a protein found in the dermis, the middle layer, and it provides skin with structure and shape. As a person gets older, however, collagen production starts breaking down. Some of the elasticity in your skin disappears, which results in wrinkles in your skin or less shape to your lips [source: Shuman].
In recent years, collagen injections have been a common way to get that plumpness back into your lips. There are basically two major options when it comes to collagen fillers: bovine-derived or human-derived. As the name implies, bovine-derived collagen comes from cows. Don't let this turn you off, though. When done properly by your doctor, bovine-derived collagen can work just as well as its counterpart, which is grown from human cells in a lab [source: Nazario].
To learn about the cost of collagen lip injections, move ahead to the next section.
Cost of Collagen Lip Injections
Collagen lip injections can be pricey. But you should you pay a lot for an experienced doctor, or you can search for cheaper prices and run the risk of a poor treatment. The average cost of a collagen injection in the lips in the U.S. is at about $370 [source: Cosmetic Surgery]. In addition, that's usually just for the collagen -- it doesn't factor in other potential costs, like testing and anesthesia. And if you want the collagen to "stick" or last in your lips, you'll have to dig deeper into your pockets. One treatment alone won't do it. You'll usually need multiple treatments of a collagen lip filler, and after a while the costs can add up.
While a collagen treatment may still seem expensive, it's more affordable than some other injectable lip fillers. The average cost of a fat injection, for example, can cost over three times the amount of one collagen treatment [source: Cosmetic Surgery].
The most affordable way to make your lips look plumper is to try alternatives before you decide to get a collagen injection. Some lipsticks and lip glosses contain ingredients that claim to increase the level of collagen in your lips. You can also experiment by choosing colors that make your lips appear fuller and using a liner to define them [source: Brown].
If you're not satisfied with the lip-plumping effects of cosmetics, bovine-derived collagen injections are generally less expensive than human-derived collagen injections [source: Nazario]. However, even though bovine-derived injections can be perfectly safe, human-derived injections are less risky. To learn more about the safety of collagen lip treatments, go on to the next page.
Collagen Lip Treatment Safety
As long as you get your injections done by a trained professional, collagen lip treatments are very safe. Make sure the doctor you choose only uses injection procedures that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It may sound surprising, but many doctors offer injectable treatments that haven't yet been approved.
Your doctor should administer a local anesthetic to your lips before the procedure. You may experience a few side effects afterwards, but these should go away after a few days. Possible side effects include redness, swelling or tenderness at the injection sight. These symptoms are expected for one to three days. If they don't go away, however, notify your doctor, as they could be a sign of an infection [source: Essig].
How you react to a collagen injection could depend on what kind of collagen actually gets inserted into your lips. Bovine-derived collagen injections may cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you are going to use a bovine-derived injection, your doctor should do a skin test about a month before treatment to make sure you're not allergic to it. Human-derived collagen, on the other hand, is much less likely to cause an allergic reaction. You can even inject collagen into your lips that comes from a completely different spot on your own body. That way, the chances are higher that you won't have an adverse reaction to it [source: Essig].
Where your collagen injection comes from affects more than just your reaction to it. Collagen treatments from different sources can vary in how long they last. To learn more about the effectiveness of various collagen lip injections, see the next page.
Effectiveness of Collagen Lip Injections
No matter what kind of collagen treatment you opt for, no specific one will last forever. Human-derived collagen injections can sometimes last a few months longer than bovine-derived collagen injections. Knowing that the human-derived injections are less likely to cause an allergic reaction also contributes to a higher cost.
The most appealing part about human-derived collagen for most people it that it comes from humans, not animals. Also, you have options a wider variety of options with human-derived collagen. For example, you can choose to use collagen that's been manufactured in a lab. If you're worried about having an allergic reaction to something that's foreign to your body, however, you can also use your own collagen from elsewhere in your body.
And if you're a little apprehensive about using collagen from your own body, you may want to consider something else entirely. Some human-derived collagen even comes from deceased donors [source: Shuman]. The choice is yours: Should your collagen injection come from a cow, you, or a cadaver? Whichever decision you make, you should be aware of the differences between these treatments and discuss them with your doctor.
No matter what kind of collagen you choose, most treatments will last only about three to six months. This means that in order to keep your lips looking plump, you'll have to see your doctor for injections two to four times each year and be willing to pay several hundred dollars each time [sources: Shuman].
For lots more information on collagen lip treatments, visit the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Brown, Bobbi. "Plump Your Lips." Prevention Magazine. June 14, 2008. (Oct. 5, 2009) http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/plump-your-lips/deaa8b5c9398a110VgnVCM20000012281eac____/lifelong.beauty/makeup
- Cosmetic Surgery. "Lip Augmentation." (Oct. 5, 2009) http://www.cosmeticsurgery.com/research/cosmetic-surgery/Lip-Augmentation/
- Essig, Maria G. "Filler injections." WebMD. Aug. 4, 2008. (Oct. 5, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/filler-injections
- Nazario, Brunilda. "Cosmetic Fillers: A Quick Way to End Wrinkles." WebMD. Jan. 31, 2008. (Oct. 5, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/guide/cosmetic-fillers-a-quick-way-to-end-wrinkles?
- Repinski, Karyn. "Unveil a Wrinkle-Free Face." Prevention Magazine. April 21, 2008. (Oct. 5, 2009)http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/unveil-a-wrinkle-free-face/fed2ac2175d69110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/lifelong.beauty/anti.aging.arsenal/0/0/0/2
- Shapouri, Beth. "Will This Doodad Really Make My Lips Plumper? Keep Your Fingers Crossed." Glamour Magazine. March 18, 2009. (Oct. 5, 2009) http://www.glamour.com/beauty/blogs/girls-in-the-beauty-department/2009/03/will-this-doodad-really-make-m.html
- Schmid, Wendy. "End of the Lines?" Prevention Magazine. July 5, 2006. (Oct. 5, 2009)http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/end-of-the-lines/9b3c88dc78803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/lifelong.beauty/anti.aging.arsenal/cosmetic.procedures/0/0/3
- Shuman, Tracy. "Skin Conditions: Collagen Injections." WebMD. April 10, 2006. (Oct. 5, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/collagen-injections
- Sundaram, Hema. "Small Fixes, Big Payoffs." Prevention Magazine. Sept. 24, 2004. (Oct. 5, 2009)http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/small-fixes-big-payoffs/982c88dc78803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/health/healthy.living.centers/anti.aging/0/0/4