What is a lip flip?
A lip flip is a nonsurgical procedure that makes your lips appear fuller. Your healthcare provider injects botulinum toxin into the corners of your mouth (oral commissures) and the edges of your lips (vermillion border).
The botulinum toxin relaxes the muscles around your upper lip, which makes your lip “flip” upward a tiny bit (eversion) and appear larger than normal.
What are the types of botulinum toxin injections?
Botox® is the most well-known botulinum toxin brand, and “Botox” is commonly used to describe all brands of botulinum toxins, but there are others. You and your healthcare provider can discuss the best option for your lip flip procedure. Other options include:
What is the difference between a lip flip and lip fillers?
A lip flip and lip fillers are both procedures that make your lips look fuller.
Lip fillers are a type of dermal filler. Your healthcare provider injects hyaluronic acid (HA) into any or all parts of your lips to add volume. Your lips look immediately fuller after the procedure.
During a lip flip procedure, your healthcare provider injects Botox into parts of your upper lip. After about a week, the injections make your lip look fuller or “poutier” without adding any volume to your lip.
Lip flips generally look more natural than lip fillers.
Who needs a lip flip?
Getting a lip flip is a personal decision. Pursuing your wants and desires for your body can be empowering.
To be considered for a lip flip, you should:
- Be in good physical health.
- Have realistic expectations.
- Not have an active oral infection, including canker sores or cold sores.
Many people who get a lip flip wish to make the size of their lips appear larger. You may wish to get a lip flip for many reasons, including:
- You want your lips to look fuller. As you age, your lips may get smaller or thinner, your philtrum (the groove between your upper lip and septum) may get longer and flatter and the distance between the corners of your mouth (intercommissural distance) may increase.
- You don’t want lip fillers or lip augmentation. These procedures change the volume and shape of your lips. They’re more expensive, and there’s generally more bruising and swelling.
- You want to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Botox relaxes your muscles, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles when you make facial expressions.
- You want your lips to cover your gums more. You may be self-conscious if your upper lip reveals too much of your gums (excessive gingival display) when you smile.
- You want to boost your confidence. A lip flip can help improve your self-esteem and body image.
Why is a lip flip done?
A lip flip won’t stop the aging process or structure of your lips, but it makes your lips look fuller without adding volume. It can help you achieve a desired look, which can boost your self-esteem.
Over time, you may lose volume in your lips. You may lose volume as a result of:
- Sun damage.
How long does a lip flip last?
The effects of Botox will eventually fade. A lip flip typically lasts between two to five months.
What happens before a lip flip procedure?
Before your lip flip procedure, you’ll meet with your healthcare provider. They’ll assess many factors, including your mental health and any social conditions. Your healthcare provider may ask the following questions:
- Why do you want a lip flip?
- What’re your expectations?
- Do you think a lot about imagined or very small defects with your body?
- Is a spouse, partner or friend encouraging you to get a lip flip or other cosmetic procedures?
Your healthcare provider will evaluate your general health, including any preexisting health conditions or risk factors. Talk to your healthcare provider about any allergies you have, especially cow milk — some botulinum toxin brands contain albumin, which is a protein in cow milk. Tell them about any prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications you’re taking. These medications may interfere with the healing process.
Your healthcare provider will recommend avoiding the use of alcohol, cigarettes and aspirin at least one week before the procedure. Alcohol and aspirin thin your blood, which can make the healing process more difficult. Cigarettes may increase the risk of bruising at your injection sites.
Your healthcare provider may take photographs of your face and lips for your medical record.
What happens during a lip flip procedure?
A lip flip procedure isn’t very invasive, so your healthcare provider is unlikely to numb your lips. If you’re concerned about pain or have a fear of needles (aichmophobia), ask your healthcare provider if they’ll apply a numbing cream (topical anesthetic) or nerve block injection to your lips so they’ll be numb.
Your healthcare provider will use a thin needle to inject Botox in parts of your upper lip, including the corners of your mouth and the edges of your lips. You’ll feel a little bit of pain, and your eyes may water. On average, your healthcare provider will insert about two to four units of Botox into your upper lip and two units into your lower lip.
Your healthcare provider or an assistant may apply a cotton swab to your injection sites to absorb any dots of blood.
The entire procedure is quick, and it should only take 10 to 20 minutes.
What happens after a lip flip procedure?
After the procedure is complete, your healthcare provider will monitor you for up to 15 minutes to ensure you don’t experience any side effects, including:
Once they determine that you no longer require monitoring, they’ll let you go home (discharge you). Botox won’t make you tired, so you can drive yourself home.
Your lips may be slightly swollen, sensitive or even numb. Swelling and sensitivity usually go away within 24 hours.
The following tips will help your lips as they heal and prevent Botox from migrating to other parts of your face:
- Apply an ice pack for up to 10 minutes to reduce inflammation, pain and swelling.
- Avoid wearing lipstick, lip balm or any other product on your lips for at least three to four days.
- Refrain from putting pressure on your lips, including touching your lips, puckering your lips, kissing and sipping from a straw.
- Be careful brushing your teeth.
- Refrain from sleeping facedown.
Risks / Benefits
What are the advantages of a lip flip?
There are many advantages to a lip flip, including:
- The procedure is safe when performed by an experienced healthcare provider, and Botox is generally safe to use. There’s a low risk of complications or side effects.
- It can boost your self-esteem.
- You’ll experience less pain, bruising and swelling than you would with other lip augmentation procedures.
What are the risks of a lip flip?
Getting a lip flip poses some risks, including:
- The effects don’t last as long as lip fillers or other lip augmentations.
- The muscles around your lip may relax too much. You may drool, have difficulty drinking and struggle to speak if Botox injections are too close to your mouth. This may last until the Botox wears off.
- If you don’t like the way that you look, you can’t reverse the procedure. You must wait until the Botox wears off.
- Though extremely uncommon, you may contract botulism.
- Discoloration or tenderness.
Can you get a lip flip while pregnant?
There haven’t been many studies on whether it’s safe to get a lip flip during pregnancy. As a result, it’s not a good idea to get a lip flip while pregnant.
Recovery and Outlook
What is the recovery time?
After 12 to 24 hours, any pain and swelling should go away.
It takes about one week for your lips to look fuller. If you want your lips to look fuller before a big event, like a wedding, you should schedule the procedure at least two weeks ahead of time to make sure that the Botox has taken full effect and that you’ve completely recovered from the lip flip procedure.
When can I eat or drink after getting a lip flip?
You can carefully eat or drink shortly after your lip flip procedure. However, take care not to eat any messy foods that may cause you to wipe your face or lips for at least three days.
Avoid using drinking straws or smoking for at least three days. Puckering or contracting your lips may cause the Botox to migrate.
You should also avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours. Alcohol thins your blood, which can make bruising on your lips worse.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Although it’s not common, Botox may spread to other parts of your body. If you experience any of the following symptoms shortly after your procedure or even weeks after your procedure, contact your healthcare provider immediately:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Difficulty swallowing or talking.
- Impaired vision.
- Weakness in muscles in other parts of your face or body.
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
- How many times have you performed a lip flip procedure?
- Do you use Botox® or a different brand?
- What brand do you recommend for me?
- Can I get a lip flip and lip fillers at the same time?
- How long will it take my lips to recover?
- What painkillers can I take while I recover?
- What’s the complete list of risks and complications?
- How often should I schedule follow-up appointments to maintain my appearance?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Getting a lip flip is a personal decision. If you wish to change the appearance of your lips but don’t want lip fillers or another type of lip augmentation, contact a healthcare provider that specializes in lip flips to discuss your options. A lip flip can boost your self-confidence, but you should be aware that it’s only temporary. On average, you need to get a lip flip every two to five months.
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