Dermal Fillers

Lip Fillers Explained

06 June 2024

 

Younger looking lips is more than just lip service.

 

Gone are the days of the overinflated, dramatic pout. Celebrities in recent years are removing their lip fillers in favour of smaller, natural lips. This doesn’t mean that lip enhancement is no longer in vogue. Au contraire, lip augmentation is on the rise, albeit with newer, more subtle lip trends and alternatives to lip fillers.

 

Lip enhancement also isn’t just for shaping the lips ala Kylie Jenner or Heart Evangelista. Ageing in the lips can make one’s lips droop and look sad; or feel dry; and augmenting the lips and lower face can improve one’s function and overall features. Today’s lip filler trends are all about subtle enhancements that celebrate your natural beauty. Here’s your complete guide to lip fillers and lip filler trends.

 

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What are lip fillers? 

Lip fillers are minimally invasive cosmetic treatments that enhance the volume, shape, and overall appearance of the lips. Lip fillers can also improve hydration of the lips and reduce signs of ageing such as wrinkles in the lips.

   

How the lips age over the decades. Image credit: Kim et al. Skin Res Technol. 2019 May;25(3):277-282.

 

What are the signs of ageing in the lips?

Considerable attention is often paid to all facial features; except the lips. And this gap in awareness and care can be seen in the comparative lack of lip care products in the market such as lip sunscreens compared to the myriad of sunscreens for the skin. As I’ve shared in this video, our lips deserve as much care as our skin because the lips are more vulnerable to signs of ageing than the rest of the face. Just like the rest of our face and skin, the lips are subjected to the effects of sun exposure and other causes of ageing. The lips function as the opening of our mouths (sphincter); and the movements of the lip muscles will also take their toll on the lips.

 

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Some of the signs of ageing in the lips and around the lips are:

• Wrinkling on the lips aka vertical lip stick lines

• Upper and lower lips lose their volume and become thinner

• The upper lip lengthens and inverts (turns inwards)

• Lower lips roll inwards

• Loss of lip border definition

• Lips become more dry

With aging, the skin envelope deteriorates faster than the muscle strength. Image credit: The Facial Aging Process From the “Inside Out”. Swift et al. Aesthet Surg J. 2021 Oct; 41(10): 1107–1119.

   

These signs are often accompanied by other signs of ageing in the lower face:

• Wrinkles around the lips aka smoker’s lines

• Loss of jawline definition

• Sagging and jowls

• Marionette lines

• Deeper nasolabial folds (laugh lines)

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LIP FILLERS? 

Many of us may be familiar with bee stung, trout pouts of overfilled lips of celebrities like Kylie Jenner, but the improvements of lip augmentation with dermal fillers can be functional and a lot more subtle.

 

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Most commonly, lip fillers are used to improve the appearance of lips in patients who desire:

• Improving symmetry in asymmetrical lip shapes and sizes

• Improving lip hydration in dry, cracked lips

• Reducing wrinkles and lines in lips

• Increasing volume in thin, deflated lips, typically due to ageing

• Increasing lip height and projection

• Achieving specific lip shapes e.g. M lips, butterfly lips, Russian lips. Learn more in What is the controversy behind Butterfly Lips?

• As part of cosmetic enhancement of the lower face (lips, chin, jawline, marionette lines)

 

To understand how lip fillers work, it would be necessary to first understand what lip fillers contain. Lip fillers are a type of dermal filler injected into the lips. There are 2 main types of dermal fillers available in Singapore:

1. Hyaluronic acid fillers

2. Collagen biostimulators

types of dermal fillers in singapore

 

The general consensus in recent aesthetic literature suggests that permanent or collagen stimulatory filler types i.e. collagen biostimulators are not suitable for lip augmentation1. Hyaluronic acid fillers are preferred for lip enhancement1.

 

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Hyaluronic acid fillers replenish hyaluronic acid in the lips that have naturally diminished in the lips with ageing. As a humectant, hyaluronic acid has the benefit of hydrating tissues; and hyaluronic acid fillers can moisten dry lips. The plumping effect from the hydration provided by lip fillers also reduces the appearance of lines and creases in the lips.

 

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For lips that have lost volume; and look thinner and deflated, lip fillers can restore fullness, projection and definition of the lips. Lip fillers can also provide structure and volume to shape the lips.

 

Rose Blackpink’s transformation- did you notice her lip enhancement?

 

WHAT ARE THE POPULAR/TRENDING LIP FILLER SHAPES?

Some of the trending lip shapes among celebrities and on social media are the Russian lips, keyhole lips, butterfly lips and M shaped lips.

 

ARE LIP FILLERS ALWAYS NOTICEABLE?

You might have noticed overfilled or botched lips aka trout pouts; and there are no lack of celebrities on the red carpet sporting lip fillers. Lip fillers; like any other dermal filler; can have outcomes that are subtle or very pronounced. It all boils down to factors such as volume and type of dermal fillers used and the performing doctor’s skillset. I’m all for a less is more approach- using minimal amounts of fillers to achieve natural looking enhancements. It’s important that cosmetic enhancement achieves harmony and improved symmetry of the overall facial features; and not idealised features in isolation. For example, an overly filled lip with pronounced borders may not look good in a patient with softer facial features.

 

Heart Evangelista opened up about having a botched lip filler in 2024. Source: Inquirer.net.

BOTCHED LIP FILLERS AND OVERFILLED LIPS

Lip fillers are particularly challenging; as the lips are unforgiving when it comes to mistakes in filler injections. Asymmetry and complications can be prominent. As Filipino model and Senate first lady, Heart Evangelista has shared, lip fillers can go wrong. Heart Evangelista shared that she had lip fillers injected by a non-doctor which gave her uneven lips. To complicate matters, a permanent filler was used. Thankfully Heart Evangelista was able to remove them with her doctor.

 

Lip moustache is one of the complication of lip fillers, where the lip filler migrate beyond the lip borders

   

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF LIP FILLERS?

Some of the specific complications of lip fillers include overfilled lips, asymmetry and lip filler migration aka filler moustache.

 

Pain and swelling are common side effects of lip fillers. However these symptoms typically resolve in a week. More serious side effects of lip fillers such as migration, infection, recurrent swelling and granulomatous inflammation can show up later. The risks of these complications are influenced by the type and volume of filler used and filler filler injection techniques, among many factors.

 

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CAN LIP FILLERS MAKE YOU LOOK OLDER?

Kylie Jenner has been mocked for looking older than her 26 years, with another headline calling her “hot for a 55 year old”. How cruel of these trolls. The topic of Gen Zs looking older has been dissected in many op-eds and one of the mentioned reasons is the gratuitous use of dermal fillers.

 

Lip fillers, like all dermal fillers, have the potential of reducing signs of aging by replace volume loss, removing lines and lifting sagging skin. However, excessive amounts of dermal fillers, including lip fillers, can distort normal anatomy or stretch the skin to make a person look older.

 

My tip for anyone wanting fillers is to discuss with your doctor in detail about how this augmentation can influence your overall appearance; and your alternative options. Having a overfilled lip can make you look older.

 

With Dr KM Kapoor, plastic surgeon and expert trainer for lips and lower face enhancement, when he was in Singapore

 

ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO LIP FILLERS?

It’s important to understand the alternative treatment options for enhancing the lips and the oral face. The appearance of the lips can be improved without lip fillers and these are the possible treatment option

• Botox lip flip- Botox can be used to curl the upper and lower lips outwards to increase the lip height and definition; without the pout of lip fillers. The results of a Botox lip flip are more subtle; but also very natural looking for thin lips. More about this treatment in 2024 Aesthetic Trends: The New Treatments and Perspectives of Beauty.

• Cosmetic lip plumpers- these are cosmetic products that temporarily enhance the fullness and volume of the lips. Cosmetic lip plumpers typically contain ingredients that hydrate the lip or increase blood flow to the to create a plumping effect. Results of cosmetic lip plumpers are very transient (usually a few hours) and may cause tingling or warm sensation.

• Aesthetic enhancement of the lower face- the lips are a prominent part of the lower face; and lip enhancement in isolation without addressing accompanying signs of ageing can create an incongruent appearance. Wrinkles around the mouth, loss of chin projection, marionette lines and jowling are some of the signs of ageing in the lower face.

 

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CONCLUSION ON LIP ENHANCEMENTS

As aesthetic treatments become more mainstream, especially on social media, lip fillers are likely to remain popular. Afterall, the lips are a prominent facial feature that influences the visual perception of one’s looks. As celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Heart Evangelista have shared- lip fillers are ultimately medical procedures that can go wrong. If you’re considering lip fillers; seek an experienced doctor to discuss your goals, understand potential risks, and achieve the best possible outcome.

 

References:

1. Classifications and injection strategy for lip reshaping in Asians. Peng and Peng. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 Oct;19(10):2519-2528.

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