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Understanding Lip Anatomy for Augmentation

One feature that defines the beauty of the human face, perhaps more than anything else, is the lips. But as we grow older, damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, hereditary factors, and smoking contribute to visible signs of aging around the lips. These age-related signs include volume loss in the lips, fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth, and prominence of the folds surrounding the lips. Also, some people are born with thin lips or asymmetries that are cosmetically unappealing. These problems can be corrected or improved by soft tissue augmentation with dermal fillers or relaxation of the muscles around the lips with botulinum toxin.

Successful rejuvenation of the perioral region (the area surrounding the mouth) requires an in-depth understanding of the anatomy as well as the sophisticated technologies and injectable products that are used to enhance the beauty of the lips.

In this article, we explore the various anatomical elements of the lips. We also discuss how dermal fillers and Botox can be used for cosmetic improvements in the lip area.

Lip Anatomy: An Overview

The lips appear different when your facial expressions change. For example, when you smile, cry, or pout, the shape of your lips changes dramatically. The shape of the lips can also vary with age and ethnicity. When one of our aesthetic medical providers examines your face, they do it with the face at rest, in a relaxed or neutral position, with the eyes open, the lips making gentle contact, and the upper and lower teeth slightly separated. This is important to assess what is causing the aged look that you want to improve.

What we simply call “lips” actually consist of several different structures. Your medical provider will carefully evaluate these structures to understand what is giving your face an aged appearance and how it can be corrected. In the paragraphs below, we describe the main structures that constitute and surround the lips.

Vermilion: This is the red or colored part of the lips. It is what most people think of when they are referring to lips.

Vermilion Border: This is a thin rim of pale skin that separates the vermilion from the surrounding skin. It accentuates the color difference between the vermilion and surrounding skin.

Cupid’s Bow: At the upper border of the upper lip vermilion, there are two elevations on either side of the midline that form what is called the Cupid’s bow.

Philtrum: Two vertical columns of tissue at the center of the upper lip form a midline depression under the nose, which is called the philtrum.

Nasolabial Folds: These are the indentations that extend from the nose to the outer corner of the mouth on either side. The nasolabial folds are more prominent when you’re smiling. As you age, the nasolabial folds can become deeper. The skin in this area may sag, and you may develop fine lines or wrinkles near the nasolabial folds.

Mentolabial Fold: Also called the labiomental fold, it is the angle between the lower lip and the upper part of the soft chin pad. It is an important factor in the perception of facial attractiveness and can range from excessive to almost flat. The mentolabial fold is carefully evaluated before placing dermal fillers or Botox in the chin area.

Oral Commissures: The oral commissures are the areas where the upper and lower lips meet at the corners of the mouth. With age, downward-extending lines can develop in this area – these are commonly called marionette lines. They can give your face a sad, sorry, or angry appearance.

Shaping the Lips with Dermal Fillers

A trained injector can use injectable dermal fillers like Juvederm, Vollure, Volbella, or Restylane to temporarily correct and improve many of the problems caused by aging around the lips. This includes common complaints such as a deflated vermilion and/or drooping angles of the mouth. The lips can be better defined by injecting dermal fillers into the vermilion border. Furthermore, common lip appearances like a “pout” can be created by injecting fillers into specific areas of the lips.

For genetically thin lips, augmentation can be performed with both superficial and deep placement of the filler. Cosmetic lip augmentation typically only requires superficially placed filler. Lip augmentation is essentially a reshaping and/or enlarging of the vermilion or visible part of the lips. The shape of the Cupid’s bow can be altered as part of lip augmentation.

It is worth noting that female lips tend to be more voluminous or pouty than male lips. This needs to be kept in mind because overfilling the male lip can make it appear feminine.

Botox for the Lips

Botox injections in the lip area are a minimally-invasive treatment that can provide considerable cosmetic improvement in the signs of aging around the lips. Botox injections are often provided as an adjunct to lip augmentation with dermal fillers.

Botox injections around the lips can minimize fine lines, wrinkles, creases, and folds in the upper and lower lip area. The treatment can help elevate drooping corners of the mouth and improve marionette lines that run downward from the corners of the mouth. Botox can also be used to correct a gummy smile (excessive visibility of the gums above the upper teeth).

One of the most common treatments performed with Botox in the lip area is called a lip flip. It involves the injection of Botox into the area above the Cupid’s bow to relax the muscles in the area. This causes the upper lip, which is typically inside your mouth, to flip up and out, giving your upper lip a fuller appearance by a couple of millimeters.

Are Botox and Dermal Fillers in the Lips Right for Me?

Cosmetic dermal fillers and Botox treatments can be performed on adults of any age, gender, ethnicity, and skin type. Fortunately, here at Renaissance Plastic Surgery, we are blessed to have several Master Level Injectors at each of our locations (See below). Our medical providers can work closely with you to achieve the exact look that compliments your overall facial structure and anatomy.

You are a good candidate for lip cosmetic treatments if you are in generally good physical health and you don’t smoke. You should have a positive outlook and realistic expectations about what can be achieved in terms of improvement in your lip appearance. Your aesthetic medical provider will talk to you about the best treatment to enhance your lips – dermal fillers, Botox, or a combination of the two – after understanding your concerns and examining your face.

Macon Location – Deb Elliott-Smith
Warner Robins Location – Lauren Dykes
Peachtree City Location – Trisha Roman Kennedy

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