Aaaahhhhh, fuller, younger-looking, pouty lips. Full lips are definitely a sign of youth, but what happens to our lips when we begin to mature? Lips become thinner, less attractive, and pretty soon, one just might give up wearing lipstick because the top lip virtually disappears, especially when smiling. When this shrinking act is apparent in the mirror, usually vertical lines begin to invade the lips making a mature women look positively ancient.
Women aren’t the only ones who want softer, fuller lips. Men whose lips are thin and hard may portray a steely attitude in the boardroom; however, men with fuller lips look more attractive, boyish, and younger.
Lips are soft tissue, and as a man or woman begins to mature, volume dissipates which means tissue shrinks.
There are many modalities for revitalizing soft tissue in lips; the old standby of bovine collagen found in Zyderm and Zyplast has competition. Restylane, CosmoDerm, and ComoPlast (human-cadaver collagen), Radiance, Artecoll, and others have entered the market of “fillers.” These new fillers do not require skin testing for allergic reactions and they are all injected. The procedure time varies from three to ten minutes and some patients relate that these types of injections can be painful. These services can be relatively expensive because they’re not permanent fixes and these injections must be repeated every few months to maintain lip fullness. The most common side effect, as with any injection, is redness, bruising, and swelling at the injection site that typically last less than three weeks.
A more permanent lip procedure that is widely used is Gortex. Strips of Gortex (threads of foam-like material) are inserted into the lips; the lips do become somewhat larger after the procedure is completed but some users complain that their lips feel hard, not soft and supple. Some of these implants cannot be removed if a problem arises because the lip tissue grows into and around the implant. Possible complications include infection, migration or extrusion of the implants and lip asymmetry is a concern.
Another somewhat permanent solution is fat injections; a patient’s own fat is removed from usually the tummy or buttocks, washed and then injected into the lips. While this is probably a fairly safe modality, the fat tends to reabsorb rather quickly, deflating the lips.
Recently, over-the-counter glosses, lipsticks, and other types of topical preparations have been introduced promising fuller, poutier lips with more definition and volume. Many cosmetic companies have jumped on this bandwagon promising the users that their special ingredients will produce full, luscious lips after a few weeks of use. In fact, there have been over two hundred new products introduced to the marketplace in the last two years ranging in price from $6.99 to almost $40. Instead of traffic-stopping lips, some of these topical products have produced burns, mouth sores, and empty pockets.
Some cosmetic companies do use natural components in their formulas but some of the formulas may be misleading. No topical product can deliver the look of a collagen injection. How these products work is through the use of an irritating ingredient such as niacin, cinnamon, caffeine, or peppermint; these ingredients may cause some temporary swelling via dilation of the blood vessels along with mild inflammation, giving the illusion of fullness. Some preparations require the user to rub the lips briskly for several minutes and this friction results in some degree of temporary swelling.
Many women and men want fuller lips because poutier lips make them feel sexier and more alluring. Consumers are willing to spend a lot of money to have “the look,” but not everyone agrees that the topicals deliver what they have promised. Dr. Sam Most, chief of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle asked seven women to use a certain topical whose website says their product increases actual lip volume and contour an average of 40.7 percent; Dr. Most said, “In subjects who used the product as directed over a long term there was no visible change in the lips.”
Is there an actual difference in using topical applications that promise full, pouty lips or is lipstick and a liner enough? Maybe Yoki Ono, a saleswoman at a Madison Avenue designer boutique, quoted in the New York Times, has the answer: “You might as well get some extra-spicy buffalo wings and eat them.”
Or better yet, save yourself a bundle of cash and brush your lips with a baby’s toothbrush and petroleum jelly for about a minute, your lips will be fuller and soft—guaranteed!