Dr Lisa Chan begins her series of monthly columns by concentrating on that most expressive and sensual element of the face: the lips. “Beauty is power; a smile is its sword,” said John Ray, a 17th-century English naturalist and philosopher. As fashionable as a moody, pouting model on Instagram may be, it’s still the curve of a lip and a sensual smile that attracts the eye. I’ve had patients who worry that they come across as aloof and unwelcoming, due to naturally thin lips or droopy mouth corners.
Sometimes this is also caused by ageing – with a loss of subcutaneous fat and collagen, a thinning of the lips and sagging around the mouth area can occur. This can often be corrected with the Smile Lipt (lip-plus-lift) technique, which is a minimally invasive procedure that combines the use of botulinum toxin and hyaluronic acid fillers.
Botulinum toxin reduces the contraction of muscles, such as the depressor anguli oris, which is a muscle that pulls the lip corners downwards. When this muscle is weakened, the lip corners will naturally curve upwards. The effects of botulinum toxin will take a few days to be seen, and can last anywhere from three to six months.
Hyaluronic acid fillers can re-volumise areas and strengthen lip definitions for an aesthetically pleasing result. The effects of fillers are seen instantly and can last approximately a year from injection, depending on viscosity and cross-linkage.
Popular lip shapes include:
• The Cupid’s Bow: a classic lip shape with a well-defined vermilion border and the upper lip volume at 70 percent to the lower lip. This lip shape is set off beautifully with red-hued lipstick.
• Heart Shaped: a fuller-bodied lip shape with a gentle curve to the upper lip and a smooth contour to the lower lip. This lip shape is well suited to pink- and peach-toned lipsticks.
• Petal Shaped: an Asian favourite, with its delicate pout effect and lifting of the lip corners. The contours of this lip shape can be highlighted with two-toned lipsticks (darker in the lip centre, then fading out at the lip borders).
To avoid the dreaded trout pout caused by overfilling, an experienced injector will take care to inject in a ratio best suited to individual facial proportions. To minimise bruising, I typically ask my patients to refrain from aspirin, multivitamins and fish oil a week before injections. Other minimally invasive options for an irresistible smile include lower face lifting with the insertion of polydioxane threads, or the use of machines delivering high-intensity focused ultrasound or radio frequency energy. A range of treatments is available, which can be tailored to your needs.
All these options should be discussed with your physician, together with your medical history and aesthetic goals, in order to formulate the most appropriate treatment plan.
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