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How to Create the Perfect Lip Shape Using Dermal Fillers

How to Create the Perfect Lip Shape Using Dermal Fillers

18 April

If there is one area of the body you could blame most for giving cosmetic surgery a bad name, it would be the lips. Too many images are circulating on social media with lips that are obviously over-plumped. In the wrong hands, dermal fillers can quickly go from enhancing lips to crossing the line into "duck lip" territory. The result is a set of lips that look fake and, well, just plain wrong.

When your client comes in asking you to make their lips look bigger, you may be faced with a dilemma. How do you give your client what they are asking for, while still giving them natural-looking results? A new study in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery has quantified just how slim a margin you have to get that perfect look.

The study involved almost a hundred participants, about a quarter of them male and the rest female. Researchers asked these observers for their opinion on a set of photographs, specifying whether the lips they saw were natural and attractive or artificial and unnatural, and whether the observers thought the lips had any cosmetic treatment. The lips in question had been digitally-altered to simulate increasing levels of cosmetic surgery in certain ways: either the upper lip was enlarged, the lower lip was enlarged, both the upper and lower lips were enlarged, or the shape of the Cupid's bow, which is the curve and dip on the upper lip, was altered. The researchers wanted to discover at what point the digitally-altered lips went from beautifully enhanced to so, so fake.

As it turns out, it did not take much. When the researchers determined the point at which half the observers said the lips looked treated and the point at which half the observers said the lips looked artificial and unnatural, there was only a small difference between the two. When both the upper and lower lips were enhanced, there was 1.5 mm difference between the point at which the lips looked treated and when they looked unnatural. With just the upper lip enhanced, there was only 0.9 mm between the lips looking treated and unnatural. The Cupid's bow was the most sensitive, with only a 0.3 mm margin of error between looking cosmetically-treated and unnatural.

When treating lips, it seems that alterations to the shape of the Cupid's bow are the most sensitive to error. Injectors have a fine line between enhancing their client's look and making their lips look artificial. Treating both upper and lower lips seems to have the greatest tolerance, as enhancement in one lip balances out any enhancement in the other lip. In all cases, it seems, it is easy to be a little off and get it completely wrong.

The information is useful for injectors and for their clients. As the study authors point out, lip enhancements require both technical and artistic prowess, combining the precise amount of dermal filler with the ability to determine just where to place it. Thanks to this study, injectors may now have a better idea of how much filler to inject before lips go from enhanced to artificial. Not only that, they have better information to counsel their clients. When someone comes in asking for big, beautiful lips, injectors can reference the study to show their client why that would be a bad idea. It is all too easy to go from beautifully-enhanced to over-plumped when it comes to the lips. Bigger is not always better.

Dermal fillers are the go-to option for lip enhancement, providing the volume needed to enhance lips with temporary results that can be reversed if needed. Using hyaluronic acid, these fillers hold moisture within the lips, keeping lips hydrated and providing just the right amount of volume to adjust lip size and shape. These fillers can even fill in fine lines, the perioral lines near the lips, to reduce the effects of aging and smoking on the lip area. To learn more about lip fillers, like Juvederm Volbella, Restylane Kysse, Stylage Special Lips, and Teosyal Puresense Kiss, visit

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be considered as medical advice. We, do not agree, endorse, or approve opinions expressed by authors of our medical community. Articles are not reviewed for accuracy by You should always consult your doctor when seeking medical advice.

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