Dr. Patti Flint

“Bigger isn’t Better” Applies to Lips too!

Many women would like their lips to look better, less wrinkled, and more attractive. Some want and could benefit from more volume, but have you ever wondered why some women seem to think their lips look better when they are so big they don’t even look like lips anymore? I certainly have. I am not able to answer that exact question, but I do have some very good news for those of you who would like your lips to look beautiful, but have avoided treatment for fear of looking over-done.

Lip rejuvenation can involve a variety of different types of treatment. Size, shape, wrinkling, and pigmentation all need to be considered when trying to provide beautiful lips. Treating loss of volume, which comes with aging in most patients, should be the easy part. The problem is, some injectors seem to ignore the aesthetic principles of balance and form and just swing for the fences on size. This rarely if ever creates an aesthetic result. I have always felt that shape is more important than size, in most things related to what I do, whether it be augmenting lips or breasts. With lips, it is always easy to go back and add more volume, and while I can dissolve any filler I put in, I would prefer to start conservatively and add more later if it is desired.

First of all, we should start with an anatomy lesson. All plastic surgeons are taught the golden proportions of beauty in their training. When it comes to lips, the lower lip should be 1.6 times fuller than the upper lip. The upper lip should have three distinct anatomic units; the central tubercle and the lateral pillows on the sides. The lower lip has two lateral pillows. When an injector ignores these proportions, the aesthetic appeal of the lips can be destroyed. The most common error is making the upper and lower lip the same size, closely followed by making both too big. When the compartments are all over-filled, the lips start to look like sausages without contour. All to be avoided in my opinion!

Historically there have been a lot of problems with the results of lip filler. We have all seen unseemly results on celebrities and figured if they can’t get a good result, nobody can. The truth of the matter is, some patients actually want their lips over-filled. Thankfully I have always been able to “just say no.” I favor a natural size and shaped lip. However, some injectors just use too much filler. Some fillers are designed to create a lot of swelling by trapping water in the area so the results last longer. While this may work well in a cheek, it makes lips look bee-stung and odd.

Thankfully a new filler called Volbella was FDA approved late in 2016. It is a hyaluronic acid based filler, which is natural to your system and has a new cross-linking technology that prevents excessive swelling. It is packaged in smaller syringes so less volume is used. It is also exceedingly pliable so the lip remains soft and look supple after treatment. This filler allows treatment of lip lines and wrinkles that extend out from the border of the lip as well as smoothing wrinkles in the lip. I have injected a great deal of filler over the last ten years, and I have never been as impressed with results as I have been with this product. I have now injected over one-hundred and fifty syringes and have yet to have any patient disappointment.

Volbella Before and After

Treating the skin around and on the lips is also an important part of rejuvenating this area. Topical anti-oxidants and sunblock should be used every day. If you are willing to invest time, effort and finance into injectable treatments, you should definitely do all you can at home to improve the quality of this sensitive skin. Any time I evaluate patients for injectable therapy, I also assess their skin and prescribe a skin care regimen specific to their skin type that will slow the aging process, protect against skin cancer, and improve the appearance of the skin. Pigmentation in the skin anywhere on the face makes us look older. Topical skincare and peels can help, but Broad Band Light therapy is incredibly efficacious at removing pigment and improving the texture and quality of the skin anywhere on the face, including the area around the lips.

Volbella Before and After

If you have shied away from lip rejuvenation for fear of unnatural results, consider consulting with me to discuss Volbella, a SkinCeuticals personalized skin care regimen, and Broad Band Light treatment. I think you will be happy you did.

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