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Lip Flips, Lifts, Fillers, and More: Your Ultimate Guide to Lip Enhancement

Updated: Apr 7

So, you want to enhance your lips - you’re definitely not alone in the year 2020! Whether you’re looking for “big and juicy” or just a natural plump, lip treatments are on-trend. Lip treatments gain more popularity with each passing year, so it’s no surprise that there are now so many different enhancement methods on the market: fillers, implants, lip flips, lifts, and hyaluron-pens, to name a few. With so many options out there, it can be hard to determine which procedure is right for you and your individual cosmetic goals. But, have no fear: we’re here to help! Read on for the full run-down on augmentation options.


1. Lip Filler

What is it? Lip fillers are arguably the most well-known lip augmentation treatment. Fillers like Juvederm, Restylane, or RHA are injected using very small needles and/or cannulas to change the size and/or shape of your lips.


How does it work? Most fillers used in the lips are hyaluronic-acid (HA) based. HA is a naturally-occurring substance found in our bodies. HA is a hydrating agent, capable of holding up to 1,000 times its molecular weight in water. Water has volume, meaning it takes up space - so, by injecting HA into the lips, it increases the volume (and therefore, size) of the lips.


Different injection techniques can be used to customize your result. For example, HA fillers can be used to change the shape of your lips for a more defined appearance, or even out asymmetry.


What is the recovery/downtime like? Patients can return to regular daily activities almost immediately! However, for the next 48 hours, patients should avoid activities like vigorous exercise. We also recommend sleeping on your back for the first few days.


Mild-moderate initial swelling and bruising is common. In most cases, swelling and bruising resolve within two weeks after being injected. Patients may experience mild soreness for the first few days after being injected.


How long does it last? Patients can typically expect their results to last anywhere from 6 to 18 months, depending on the type of filler that is used. Lip fillers can be a one-time treatment repeated only when the effects wear off, but some patients may choose to gradually “build” up their lips with a few treatments spaced a few weeks apart to achieve their desired fullness.


Who is a candidate? Most healthy adults are candidates for lip filler. If you have a history of cold sores, filler injections can trigger a break out - be sure to take cold sore medication before and after the treatment to avoid this.


Lip Filler Pros:

  • Lip fillers are highly customizable - you can add volume, change the shape of your lips, and tailor your treatment to your personal cosmetic goals

  • It is a non-invasive and nonsurgical treatment

  • HA-based lip fillers are reversible if you change your mind

  • Very little downtime is required


Lip Filler Cons:

  • Results are not permanent - repeating treatment every 6-12 months may be necessary to maintain your desired look

  • If you have a fear of needles, this may not be the right option for you

  • Some lip fillers carry a risk of migration into other areas.



2. Lip Flip

What is it? A “lip flip” is a non-surgical procedure where small amounts of a neuromodulator (e.g. Botox and Dysport) are strategically injected above the upper lip or below the lower lip. This causes the lips to round out, showing more of the pink part of the lip to create the illusion of fullness.


How does it work? The muscle around your mouth (orbicularis oris) is a sphincter, which means it is a circular muscle that constricts. When small amounts of neuromodulator are injected for a lip flip, this muscle is slightly relaxed, allowing the lip to “flip” outwards. This creates the illusion of a full lip without adding any volume.


What is the recovery/downtime like? Similar to lip fillers, there is very little downtime associated with a lip flip. You will be advised to avoid vigorous exercise, and sleep on your back for the next 48 hours. Patients may experience mild soreness initially, which can be treated by applying ice to the area. Depending on which neuromodulator is selected, results typically start to kick in after 2-7 days (results will peak at the 2 week mark).


How long does it last? The results of a lip flip typically last around 3-4 months.


Who is a candidate? Most healthy adults are candidates for a lip flip. Patients who would like to treat a “gummy smile” may especially benefit from this method.


However, if you take Accutane, it is recommended to wait one full year to have any neuromodulator injected. Additionally, if you have a history of cold sores, the injections can trigger a break out - be sure to take cold sore medication before and after the treatment to avoid this.


Lip Flip Pros:

  • It is a non-invasive, nonsurgical treatment

  • Lip flips can improve the appearance of a “gummy” smile

  • It is fast - the entire procedure can be done within 5-10 minutes

  • It is more cost effective than fillers or surgical intervention

  • Very little downtime is required

  • Can get the look of full lips without having to get lip filler injected


Lip Flip Cons:

  • Results are not permanent - this treatment needs to be repeated every 3-4 months in most patients to maintain results

  • If you have a fear of needles, this may not be the right option for you

  • This treatment does not allow you to customize the volume or shape of your lips

  • Results are not reversible if you change your mind - you will need to wait for it to wear off

  • This treatment can make it a little more difficult to purse the lips (e.g. when you are trying to use a straw).

  • Risk of temporary bruising



3. Lip Lift

What is it? A lip lift is a surgical procedure that decreases the distance between your upper lip and nose, and enhances the pink edge of your upper lip (vermillion border). It can change the appearance of the lips by improving facial proportions and creating the illusion of a fuller upper lip.


How does it work? Some of the tissue under the nose is surgically removed, pulling the lip upwards. This can be done under local or general anesthesia.


What is the recovery/downtime like? Sutures will remain in place for about one week after the procedure. After sutures are removed, patients are typically ready to return to their normal daily activities. There will be a thin, red line under the nose where the tissue was stitched, but it usually resolves itself within 2-3 months.


How long does it last? Results are permanent! No re-treatment is necessary.


Who is a candidate? Your candidacy for this procedure will depend on the distance between your lip and nose - if it is less than 11 mm, this may not be the right treatment for you.


Lip Lift Pros:

  • Results are permanent, there is no need for regular maintenance treatments

  • There are different sedation options depending on your individual preference

  • This procedure can help to balance the look of the full face by improving facial proportions.


Lip Lift Cons:

  • Treatment is invasive and might require general anesthesia depending on the surgeon’s preference

  • More downtime is required than other treatment options

  • If you are specifically looking to add volume, this may not be the right choice for you

  • The scar can be obvious or may need additional treatments to improve it

  • Treatment may be more expensive than other options.



4. Fat Transfer to the Lips

What is it? This is a surgical procedure that works similarly to lip fillers - however, instead of a hyaluronic acid-based filler, your own fat is used.


How does it work? A small amount of fat is taken from a donor site (such as the abdomen) via liposuction technique. The fat is then re-injected into the lips. Very little fat is needed, so there is no aesthetic change to the donor site. This procedure is typically done under local anesthesia.


What is the recovery/downtime like? This is a surgical procedure, so you will experience the recovery and downtime associated with liposuction and prolonged swelling in the lips. There are several contributing factors that determine the length of your downtime, such as donor site and anesthesia choice. Recovery can take a few days up to several weeks, and results can take a few months to finalize.


How long does it last? Results are permanent!


Who is a candidate? Most healthy adults that have extra fat to donate for the procedure are candidates.


Fat Transfer Pros:

  • Results are permanent

  • Fat comes from your own body

  • Results look and feel natural

  • Treatment is customizable - you can change the volume and shape of your lips to achieve your desired look.


Fat Transfer Cons:

  • Treatment is not reversible

  • If you are looking for a nonsurgical, non-invasive option, this treatment is not right for you

  • Procedure involves more downtime than other options

  • Usually the most expensive treatment option

  • It will provide generalized fullness, but you might still need some filler for border definition.



5. Hyaluron Pen

What is it? Hyaluron pens are devices designed to force hyaluronic acid into the skin with the goal of adding volume. They are marketed as a pain-free, downtime-free alternative to lip fillers.


How does it work? Hyaluron pens use high pressure to force hyaluronic acid into the upper layer of the skin. However, because the HA is essentially “blasted” superficially into the skin, there is very little control over how it will disperse within the skin - and therefore, very little control over how your final result will look.


What is the recovery/downtime like? While hyaluron pens are marketed as being downtime-free, some patients who have undergone the procedure beg to differ. Some patients report long-lasting bruising, and even ulcerations. However, other patients experience only minimal bruising and are able to return to their normal activities quickly.


How long does it last? Patients have mixed reviews regarding the longevity of results - some patients report being ready for re-treatment after only 2-3 weeks, while others are satisfied for 4-6 months. Because the HA is injected into only the upper layer of the skin, it typically dissolves much faster than deeper-penetrating HA fillers.


Hyaluron-Pen Pros:

  • No needles are involved

  • Some patients report a pain- and downtime-free treatment experience

  • If you are looking for a more natural look, this treatment gives a less dramatic result than other options

  • This treatment is relatively cost-effective per procedure.


Hyaluron-Pen Cons:

  • Because this treatment is marketed as pain-free, providers do not administer numbing medicine

  • Results are not long lasting and treatment must be repeated frequently

  • Results are not predictable or customizable

  • Unlike the treatments discussed above, you do not need to be a certified medical professional to administer this treatment - meaning that many providers have no medical training

  • Hyaluron-Pens are relatively unregulated and can be purchased from a number of uncertified sources.



6. Lip Implant

What is it? Lip implants are just that: implants made of silicone or expanded polytetrafluoroethylene that are surgically implanted to create fuller lips.


How does it work? This surgical procedure takes about one hour. A surgeon will make incisions on either side of the lips. Clamps are used to create a tunnel in each lip, and the implant is placed in that tunnel. Then, the implant is trimmed, and the incisions are closed. This procedure can be done under local or general anesthesia.


What is the recovery/downtime like? Lip implants have a relatively short downtime of about 1-3 days. However, if you choose to undergo general anesthesia, your recovery time may be extended.


How long does it last? Results are permanent!


Who is a candidate? The best candidate for this procedure is a healthy adult with natural symmetry and enough lip tissue to cover the implant. If you have very thin lips or visible asymmetry, this may not be a great starting option for you.


Lip Implant Pros:

  • Results are permanent - no re-treatment or extra maintenance is required

  • Procedure is relatively inexpensive (average cost is $1,500-$3,000)

  • This is a cost-effective option for patients who metabolize filler very quickly.


Lip Implant Cons:

  • If you are unhappy with your result, removal of the implant requires a surgical explant

  • A lip implant is not a great option for someone who is seeking natural looking results

  • There is a heightened risk of scarring compared to the other procedures discussed above

  • It is a foreign object that your body might react to.



To wrap it up…

There are many treatment options offered to enhance your lips. Which method is right for you will depend on your individual cosmetic goals, budget, and preferences.


Still have questions about which procedure to choose? Click here to schedule a virtual consultation with our doctors.


462 North Linden Drive, Suite 440
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

(310) 484-5054

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