There are many DIY ways to fake a fuller pout, from overlining your lips to applying a lip plumping gloss. But if you're looking for something a little more permanent, you've got plenty of options. In-office treatments such as as lip flips and lip fillers, for example, have become some of the most requested services in recent years.
That's why we decided to break down the two popular looks. Here, we spoke to three experts to explain the difference between lip flips and lip fillers, from the treatment process and pricing to potential side effects – all of their answers, below.
What Is a Lip Flip?
"A lip flip is a nonsurgical alternative to lip fillers and lip lifts. It involves the injection of neurotoxin into edges of your upper lip which relaxes the muscles resulting in the eversion or “'lip' making it appear fuller and poutier," explains board-certified dermatologist, founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics, and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Dr. Marie Hayag, MD, founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics
Additionally, she says that lip flips are good options for people with "gummy" smiles as the neurotoxin relaxes the muscles so your upper lip does not curl as much when smiling.
While Botox is the primary neurotoxin used for lip flips, alternatives such as Dysport, Xeomin, or Jeuveau may be preferred by your injector depending on your unique needs. And as with all neurotoxins, results last anywhere between two to four months depending on how much is injected and how quickly your body metabolizes it.
It's also important to note that since such a small amount of neurotoxin is used, Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, a facial plastic surgeon and a facelift expert in New York City, says that the cost of a lip flip is typically lower than a full session. For Botox, he estimates the price range to be between $200 and $300.
What Is Lip Filler?
Unlike lip flips, which only inject a neurotoxin but don't add volume, lip fillers do exactly what their name alludes to — they fill your lips. Dr. Hayag explains that a dermal filler is injected into the lip borders, body of the lips, and occasionally into the philthrum for shape correction or fuller, more voluptuous lips.
The most popular type of filler uses hyaluronic acid, a substance created naturally in the body that, when used in lip area, gives a natural-looking result and movement. "Such fillers include Restylane, Juvederm, RHA, and Belotero," shares Dr. Hayag. "One of the newer brands of filler created especially for the lips, Restylane Kysse (a hyaluronic acid filler) is especially praised for its natural augmentation abilities."
Typically, results last anywhere between six months to a year. "It's FDA approved to last up to 12 months, but it can really depend on individual anatomical differences as well as how much filler is used," furthers Nicci Levy , Founder & CEO of Alchemy 43. However, if you're unhappy with the outcome of your lip filler, Dr. Hayag says your injector can dissolve them.
As for cost, our experts say you can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2,000.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Getting a Lip Flip?
Some may assume that lip flips have a lesser risk of side effects, but that's not necessarily the case. "The side effects are numerous and not reversible with any treatment," says Dr. Vasyukevich. "All the side effects are related to the weakness of the muscle of the upper lip."
The side effects include changes in speech pattern, being unable to whistle and drink from a straw, or in severe cases, drooling or being unable to pronounce certain words. In the off-chance that you experience side effects, he says to expect them to last between one to two months.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Getting Lip Filler?
Since hyaluronic acid can be dissolved, there aren't too many side effects to be worried about — as long as you're in the right hands.
Dr. Vasyukevich says that immediately after injections, bruising and swelling of the lips are possible but fairly infrequent. Also, small nodules may form and filler migration may occur, but he assures that these side effects are even less likely. "Post-injection treatment is usually not necessary," he adds.
What's the Treatment Process Like When Getting a Lip Flip?
Before stepping into a dermatologist's office or even setting up a consultation, it's crucial to do your research. Look at before/after photos of patients on the site and on social media, read testimonials, and narrow it down to a list of injectors who create the results that you want.
Once you've found your person, set up a consultation. There, talk about your expectations, desires, and ask your injector everything from the pre-treatment plan they recommend to the type of neurotoxin they recommend for you and why. Then, before your treatment, Dr. Hayag says to stop all blood thinners (pending your doctor's approval), aspirin, and alcohol to ensure minimal bleeding and bruising.
Once you're in the treatment room, Dr. Vasuyevich says that numbing cream may be applied to the area to minimize discomfort. "The area of injection is sterilized and a small amount of [neurotoxin] is injected into three to four sites on each side of the upper lip," he adds of the process. After that, he says you can opt to apply a cooling pack on the area for a few minutes to minimize the chances of swelling and bruising.
"Be sure to keep your head up for at least an hour and a half after to ensure the neurotoxin does not migrate to other areas of your face," adds Dr. Hayag.
What's the Treatment Process Like When Getting Lip Filler?
As with lip flips — or any cosmetic procedure, for that matter — do your research first. Once you've found someone you like and trust, set up that consultation so both parties are on the same page.
When you've set a date, Dr. Hayag says to avoid getting any type of dental work two weeks prior and one month after. Additionally, she says to avoid medications and supplements including Aspirin, Motrin, Advil (ibuprofen), Excedrin, Contac, Aleve (Naprosyn, Nuprin), ginkgo biloba, omega 3, omega 6, fish oil, vitamin E, or turmeric for seven days prior to getting lip filler,as these can increase the chance of bruising and swelling. But of course, consult your doctor beforehand.
Once you're in the treatment room, Dr. Vasyukevich says the area of injection will be sterilized and can be anesthetized with a numbing cream or lidocaine injection — which is very much recommended as there are many nerves in the lip area. Then, he says the filler is placed into the lip through either serial puncture or threading method. Levy adds that the whole process should take about 20 minutes.
Post-procedure, Dr. Hayag says to apply an ice pack on the area to reduce swelling and the chances of bruising. "You may feel numbness for a few hours after the injection due to the numbing cream and the lidocaine in fillers," she adds. If there is any swelling or bruising, she says it should go away within a week.
What's the Best Option For Me?
Ultimately, it depends on the results you want. If all you desire is a little bit more of a pout, a lip flip may be the way to go. If you're looking for volume, lip filler is the right move. You could also do both. "Clients commonly opt for a lip flip and lip filler together because they are super complementary," explains Levy. Read More Lip Flips and Filler