They are the centre focus when we talk and smile and they come in all shapes and sizes. From thin petite to full Angelina Jolie volume lips. Some are more defined with curves and cupid bows, whereas others are, well, more subtly defined. At the end of the day, our lips are a unique design that fit our unique selves and define our femininity. Lips can also be a fun feature; for some of us it means playing with a bit of lip liner and colour. For others, a little more daring… Lip filler has become the way to tweak the overall shape and volume to get to that desired shape. You only have to search ‘lips’ on Instagram and you are bombarded with all the hottest (and often not so hot) 2020 lip filler trends around the world.
Understanding the need for lip enhancement
Lips, just as the rest of our facial features, undergo various changes as part of the inevitable aging process. Lips get their shape in part from collagen, and as we age, we produce less of this important support structure, and the lips start to lose their plumpness. The upper lip starts to thin and flatten, losing its cupid bow shape. For some of us this process is so extreme, that it seems our lips are involved in some disappearing act as they completely flatten. In some individuals the lips also appear to get longer. This is due to underlying support structure (bony maxilla) that starts to flatten. We also start to notice those non-flattering ‘smoker lines’, or ‘bar code lines’ (for the non-smokers). The main reason for this is the ongoing and necessary use of our orbicularis oris (the muscle responsible for pursing or pouting, or kissing). Longterm use along with the reduction of collagen support leads to wrinkling around the mouth.
Lastly, don’t forget the skin! The skin of the lip is extremely thin and delicate and is prone to dryness as well as pigmentation and in worse cases: skin cancer!
Types of lips
Just as there are differences in our facial features, so are there different lip shapes. Remember, a lip shape is not just a pencilled-in feature. The structure, the shape and the support of the lip varies among individuals. And so, we unfortunately cannot all have the Angelina Jolie lips, especially if we have more of a petite lip shape. I think the biggest problem we face in the current aesthetic world, is the desire to radically change our appearance including our lips. Some might say that we are perhaps ‘messing’ with our God given features, and easily lose sight of what was once considered normal. The sad story is, that once you have radically changed your lip shape, it is a difficult path back to restoring what you once had.
The subtle approach
Let’s be honest. No one wants to walk around with a guaranteed 9-month trout pout. Lip enhancement should be something that adds the cherry on the top to perfecting one’s look, not overshadowing all the other beautiful features of our face. And so, my approach is to practice restraint. Reshape a lip that was once shaped, rebuild lip structure where it was once well-formed, plump and hydrate where once full. And yes. For those of us who were served last in the handing out of ‘lips’, enhance subtly to beautify not just the lips, but also the rest of the face.
How do we go about creating a naturally beautiful lip?
The key to perfect lip shaping is understanding what part of the lip has become deficient. Here at Nerina Wilkinson + Associates, we use hyaluronic acid based dermal filler specifically suited for treating lips. This minimizes the risk for too much swelling or the formation of lumps. When it comes to technique this is no ‘paint by numbers’ approach. One has to use a variety of injection techniques to create the desired lip suited to each individual need. For those of you worried about pain, don’t fret. Our choice in dermal filler contains a small amount of anaesthetic, and we apply a topical numbing cream to allow for a more comfortable experience.
Following a lip shaping or reshaping treatment (lip filler) we do expect a degree of swelling that can sometimes last a day or two depending on the technique, before they settle comfortably into their new shape. And yes, there is always a risk for bruising. So please do not book a treatment days before a special event (just in case).
For those who jut want a teeny tiny touch of hydration
We also focus on lip hydration without changing the shape or size of the lip. Think of it as a lip and skin booster to hydrate the skin leaving it looking naturally plump and glossy. And do not forget that the lips form part of our most beautiful living organ: the skin. So please take care with regards to moisturization and protection from the sun.
The full picture
Understand that the lips are not stand-alone facial features. Their shape and form also depend on the position and the support provided by the cheek and the chin. It is therefore very important to consider first improving the support to the surrounding bone and soft tissue structures that will lead to a more evenly and more beautiful, proportioned face. In my opinion, once you have corrected those, then only attend to the lip. And so, it might be a good idea to pop in for an aesthetic consult where we can go through your ageing process and discuss your unique aesthetic needs to give you the best results when it comes to creating that beautiful smile.