Skin Deep

How to choose the right cosmetic treatments for younger-looking lips

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you might be thinking about getting a lip rejuvenation treatment so you can pucker up with smooth, kissable lips. If you’re having a difficult time deciding which lip treatment could be right for you, following these three important tips can help.

First: Choose the right doctor

The lip area can be particularly tricky to get just right because it is one of the most noticeable and defining features of your face. Unnatural looking, poorly shaped or extra large lips make you look older rather than younger. Because of this, you want to make sure that you choose an experienced and qualified artistic doctor who has an eye for aesthetics, symmetry and detail. The best doctors to inject the lips often have artistic hobbies, so look for an art lover.

Believe it or not, perfecting the size, shape, and proportions of the lips requires anatomy knowledge, experience injecting dermal fillers and an artistic eye. It is crucial that you find a doctor who understands the “golden ratio” of lip proportions and who knows the proper techniques in order to achieve your desired results. You also do not want someone to inject your lips who is rushed and does not have time to carefully consider your aesthetic needs. Remember, you get what you pay for when it comes to lip injections. If it seems too cheap, stay away. It is also worth noting that illicit injectors have become a widespread concern, especially here in Miami, so double-check that the person who will inject your lips is not only qualified to perform lip injections but that he or she is also using safe, legal products.

In Florida, only medical doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners may legally inject dermal fillers. I refer to these as “providers” because they “provide medical care.” I suggest that you ask how many injections the provider has performed before you allow them to do your lips. A syringe of filler should cost $500-$800 on the average here in Florida. Usually, one syringe is enough to treat the lips.

Second: Know your lip augmentation options

Before moving ahead with your lip treatment, you should have the opportunity to sit down with your provider and discuss your goals and options. Bring photos of lips shapes that you would like to discuss with your doctor. It is helpful to have a general understanding of your filler options and what the major differences are between them. If you want to see some videos about different types of fillers for the lips, visit Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute on YouTube.

If you’re interested in lip injections to achieve a fuller, poutier look, dermal fillers are going to be the most effective options. The best dermal fillers for lips contain hyaluronic acid (HA), which is already naturally present in your skin. HA works by binding to water molecules and temporarily plumping the lips. Two of my favorite HA fillers for the lips are Restylane Silk and Juvederm Vollure. These are very safe reversible products that can achieve very natural-looking results in the lips when used by an artistic injector.

Neuromodulators like Botox and Dysport (also called BTXA) can be used to smooth the vertical “barcode” or “smoker’s” lines that sometimes form on the upper lip, but they are not used to plump the lips themselves. These injectable treatments work by temporarily relaxing the underlying muscle contractions that cause dynamic expression lines. Unfortunately, BTXA injections decrease movement around the mouth, which can look fake and give you an asymmetrical smile, so I am not a big fan of this type of lip injections. Topical BTXA treatments are currently in the research phase and are not yet available.

Microneedling, PRP and topical retinoids are also options for getting rid of barcode/smoker’s lines around the mouth. Ask your doctor about these treatments if you are unhappy with the lines around your mouth. Permanent makeup can enhance the border of the lip when done correctly.

Third: Have realistic goals

You can bring a few photos of the lips you’d like to your consultation to help you explain your specific goals. Keep in mind, however, that you need to find an experienced artistic provider and trust them to choose what fillers and cosmetic treatments are best to shape your lips. Lips that are out of proportion with your other facial features will end up looking fake. Go slowly and be conservative to get the best results.

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.

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