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How Stella got her Lips

Join Stella as she shares her real life experience with Lip Enhancement at Be Medispa...

Stella's New Lips: Part 1

Most women have given some thought to having cosmetic surgery. There isn't a woman alive over the age of twenty-five who hasn't joked about having liposuction while sitting poolside with her friends. If asked, many ladies can even tell you, on the spot, the body part to which they would most like to have a procedure done. So go ahead, admit it--we've all daydreamed about being "polished," if only just for fun.

Personally, my go-to-"imperfection" has always been my lips. I have my father's lips, which can be described as a "Cupid's Bow," with defined corners and an extremely thin bottom lip. This look would be fine on a man with a mustache but, as a woman, I have always wanted a larger bottom lip to match the prominence of my upper lip. A lip augmentation (the medical term for lip injections) is something that I have always wanted to do.

This summer I convinced myself that it was time to experiment with lip injections. My friends and co-workers cheered me on as I began to pioneer the way for all of us. I spent several days researching the procedure, the cost, local physicians and facilities. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with every aspect of my decision.

So, finally, I was brave enough to turn my daydream into a reality. I made an appointment at Be Medispa in Lexington (located in Chevy Chase next to Starbucks) for a lip injection consultation. I'll admit I wasn't sure I was actually going to go through with the procedure. A bit worried, I called the day before to ask a few questions. But as soon as I arrived for the consultation, I knew I'd walk out that day with a new pair of "kissers."

For those of you teetering on the idea of a cosmetic procedure, I am going to share some of the concerns and questions I had about my first venture to a medical spa...hopefully I will answer some of your questions. If you are wondering about the difference between a medical spa and a cosmetic surgery facility, please read our story. It will also give you a good idea of other services offered aside from lip augmentation.

First of all, the facility was clean, professional, and comfortable--something I expected. The staff was warm and knowledgeable. Upon kindly greeting me in the lobby, I instantly felt that I was in good hands with Paul Hester, MD, MBA and his wife, business partner, Chasity Hester, PA-C.

We didn't jump right into talking lips. At Be Medispa, a significant portion of the consultation is placed on the education of aging well. Dr. Hester allows clients the opportunity to participate in a VISIA Complexion Analysis (VCA). The VCA is a technologically advanced piece of medical equipment that allows patients to see UVA and UVB damaged skin along with other potentially problematic areas. For me, it was like looking into the future. We saw that I had some sun damage to my face, mostly on my nose. The analysis revealed the shortfalls of my current skin care plan. But for the most part, it showed that I was doing well for my age and that my skin was in fairly good shape. Hope you are happy, Mom!

Using the same high-tech equipment, Dr. Hester got images of my lips. The photos are used to determine placement of Restylane to achieve the desired fullness/look and shape of lips post-procedure. Also, the photos will eventually be used for before and after shots. During this portion of my visit, I interjected with the one question that was at the front of my thoughts: will my lips be left wrinkled once the Restylane wears off? I was assured that this would not happen. Phew. We moved on.

We spent several minutes reviewing my lip photos with Dr. Hester. He pointed out that, although I wanted most of the enhancement in my bottom lip, a few small injections to my upper arches would help soften the harshness of my Cupid's Bow. We agreed on a plan of attack, and now confident in the staff's abilities and care, I made the decision to proceed.

Read the conclusion to Stella's New Lips this week and see the real before and after pics!


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Stella's New Lips: Part II

After deciding to proceed, Dr. Hester escorted me to one of the private rooms to numb my lips. I was surprisingly calm as I waited for Dr. Hester to prep me for the anesthetic. He began by applying a topical numbing medicine on my lips; it was somewhat goopy and thick, but it definitely did the trick. However, the topical cream isn't the only form of anesthetic used in preparation for lip augmentation. A series of shots (three to four) must go inside the lips (upper and lower) to really numb the area before the injections.

Some old pros often forgo the shots, but I highly recommend them. Because lips are made up largely of multiple nerve endings, the anesthetic help is hard to avoid. But if you've ever had dentists fill a cavity, then you'll know exactly what to expect. The shots sting for a few seconds, but it is over very quickly!

Within approximately 60 seconds I lost all feeling in both lips and was ready for the Restylane injections. Dr. Hester used only one syringe of Restylane throughout both lips. Per each individual syringe of Restylane the cost is around $500. Most people use at least two, but we opted for one for my lips. I wanted to start with a more subtle look. After all, I could always add more * later.

The entire procedure only took about ten minutes. Dr. Hester worked skillfully to sculpt my new lips to be exactly what I had envisioned.

My lip injections are projected to last about six months. As a side note: other facial injections can last up to nine. The more you move a particular facial feature, the quicker the injections fade out. As women, we use our lips quite a bit, so the Restylane is worn out faster.

The first few hours following the procedure, the final result was hard to evaluate for several reasons. First, my lips were numb and hard to move. Second, my lips displayed 20% swelling for the first 48 hours. Finally, I had mild (expected) bruising from the injections. I also experienced a minimal itching sensation for about three days following the injections. This is normal, too.

Even still, I could tell that my fears of looking like Melanie Griffith were unwarranted. The change was subtle, just as I had requested.

I kept an icepack on for the first two hours and again most of the second day. The pain was minimal; Mary and I even had lunch together about an hour after the procedure. Pretty soon, I could see the results and was pleased. I told myself that, while this was a somewhat experimental journey, it was likely that I would be returning in six months for another augmentation.

The best part of the whole experience was the subtleness of the change. I didn't want to say, "Hey world! Look at my new lips!" My friends noticed that something was different about me, that my look had improved. Yet only my closest friends could put their finger on what it was. For that, I was pleased.

Hope this has helped all the daydreamers! If you have further questions, please leave a comment for me.

- Stella

P.S. -I would suggest that every woman in her late twenties and older schedule a Visia Complexion Analysis with Dr. Hester. Go see if you are properly protecting your skin from harmful UVB rays. It costs as little as $50 for a consultation. Remember, it's better to take preventive measures now than to repair damage later.

This 2 part series was written by Stella and first published as a feature story on her website for active professional women, Mary and Stella.  The photographs have not been touched up in any way. We appreciate her contribution to our patients.


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