In the quest to achieve a fuller-looking pout, options such as temporary plumping products and long-lasting injectable filler have long been popular. But these aren’t the only options. Lip flips — essentially using Botox to create the illusion of bigger lips — are becoming an increasingly popular procedure. Ahead, top doctors weigh in on how exactly this works, how to determine if you’re a good candidate, and what else you need to know about this trendy treatment.
What Is a Lip Flip?
“A lip flip involves injecting a neuromodulator such as Botox, Xeomin, or Dysport around the border of the top lip,” explains Dr. Sheila Farhang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Tucson, Arizona. As a quick reminder, all of these work by inhibiting the neurotransmitters that cause muscle contractions and, ultimately, wrinkles. In the case of the lip flip, relaxing the muscle, which typically pulls the upper lip inward and downward, ends up lifting the lip instead, making it look like it’s flipped upward (hence the name). “Think of it as relaxing a tight circle,” says Dr. Farhang. And to the point of wrinkles, a lip lift can also help soften fine lines around the mouth as well.
How Is a Lip Flip Different From Lip Filler?
Injecting hyaluronic acid fillers into the lips adds volume so your lips will actually become bigger. “In the case of a lip flip, the apparent increase in fullness comes from the eversion, or pulling the lip up, rather than an increase in size,” explains Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in New York City. Dr. Farhang adds that it essentially adds vertical height to the lip, and helps decrease the inward curl of the upper lip when you talk or smile.
There are some other major differences, too. “People see the results of filler immediately, they can last for about a year, and there is usually way more swelling and bruising involved,” says Dr. Farhang. With a lip flip, the results only kick in once the Botox does — usually after a few days — and results only last for two to three months. Swelling and bruising aren’t really a concern with a lip flip, either, though there are other potential side effects to be wary of. (More on those in a moment.)
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Lip Flip?
“Patients who can’t tolerate fillers, but still want their upper lip to appear fuller may be good candidate for a lip flip,” says Dr. Vasyukevich. Dr. Farhang adds that it’s also something to consider if you are a little nervous about filler, and want to try out an option that is both a bit more subtle and also more temporary.
It’s also a great choice for anyone who is self-conscious about a thin upper lip or whose lips curl in when they smile, she says. If you want to (kind of) see what you’d look like with a lip flip, Dr. Vasyukevich says you can somewhat mimic the effect by putting your finger over your upper lip, close to the nose, and pulling up on the skin ever-so-slightly.
How Much Does a Lip Flip Cost?
Relatively speaking, this isn’t a treatment that’s going to break the bank. Only a small amount of Botox is used, usually about three to six units, as compared to an average of 30 to 35 typically used to treat the forehead and crows’ feet, points out Dr. Farhang. The final price tag will vary based on where you live and the doctor you see, but Dr. Vasyukevich cites about $150 to $400.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of a Lip Flip?
Both doctors we spoke with underscore the importance of considering the possible side effects that come with a lip flip, all of which are largely unavoidable. “This is super important to discuss with patients. Depending on how sensitive someone is to the neurotoxin, how thick their muscle is, and how many units are injected, side effects include a possible lisp and difficulty drinking out of a straw,” cautions Dr. Farhang. “These side effects are usually the most prominent during the first two weeks, when the muscles are relearning how to navigate around the neurotoxin.”
And here’s the thing: While it’s paramount to find an experienced, licensed provider (even more so given that this is an advanced type of injection technique and an off-label use of Botox, notes Dr. Farhang), you can pretty much always expect some type of side effects with a lip flip. “Regardless of how experienced the injector is, some limited mobility of the upper lip is always going to happen,” says Dr. Vasyukevich.
“If you experience none of these side effects, you likely won’t see a difference in the appearance of the lip. Less experienced injectors may have less favorable benefits to side effects ratio, but it’s impossible to avoid them altogether,” he adds. The good news? If you find these side effects super irksome and/or just aren’t happy with the results, a lip flip will ‘wear off’ in two to three months, with no long-term effects after the fact.