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Which Is Better: Lip Filler or Botox?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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The skin naturally changes as people age. The lips are one area where many people often catch the signs of aging. Over time, they lose their natural lip volume and become thinner. However, the emergence of cosmetic treatment options like a lip filler or Botox lip flip has made it possible for both celebrities and non-celebrities alike to achieve a fuller lip

But which of the two is actually better — lip filler or Botox? Both treatments have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s only a matter of finding the right clinic and solution to help reach your cosmetic goals.

The Lip Filler vs. Botox Debate

While many over-the-counter beauty and face products help people look as young as possible, the development of lip augmentation options allows for better and longer-lasting results. Lip fillers (also known as dermal filler) and lip flip are both non-invasive treatments that naturally provide plump-looking lips. 

Both are hugely popular procedures that are done via injections on the lip area. However, they still vary in certain aspects such as the substance used, the range of skin problems that they remedy, and how they work to improve the lips’ overall appearance. 

Dermal fillerBotox 
What is used Uses hyaluronic acid Uses a neurotoxin called botulinum toxin 
What they mainly solveMostly“‘static” wrinkles caused by loss of collagen in the skinMostly “dynamic” wrinkles caused by repeated movement of facial muscles
How they work Smoothens the skin and restores volume that’s lost Relaxes the muscles in the upper lip to let them naturally elevate and appear fuller 

What Are Lip Fillers? 

Lip fillers are medical implants used to treat common facial issues such as marionette lines (wrinkling that runs between the mouth and chin) and nasolabial folds (deep wrinkles that form under the nose to the corners of the mouth). Typically, they come in different injectable forms such as collagen, calcium hydroxylapatite, and poly-L-lactic acid, with the most notable being hyaluronic acid filler (HA fillers). 

Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance commonly found in many of today’s skincare products. It’s preferred by many beauty gurus because of its ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water to maintain the skin’s moisture levels high. It’s also used in lip balms and lipsticks as it can keep the lips hydrated all day. An injectable dermal filler, mostly marketed as Juvederm or Restylane, is recommended for lip enhancement because of its benefits: 

  • Stimulates collagen production to keep skin firm and supple 
  • Evens out texture to reduce facial wrinkles and lip line around the mouth 
  • Solves the problem of thin lips with the addition of volume 
  • Is a generally safe substance as hyaluronic acid already exists in the body 

Dermal fillers are still only a temporary solution as they can be absorbed or dissolve over time. Some patients may need to schedule additional trips to the clinic to receive the injectables again if they want to maintain their desired effect.

What Is Botox? 

A Botox lip flip procedure entails the use of botulinum toxin which is produced by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. This injectable neurotoxin has gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for therapeutic (such as treatments for migraine, excessive sweating, and eyelid spasms) and cosmetic commercial use. 

Many plastic surgeons employ the use of this Botox injection in very small amounts to the skin. When injected around the lip area, the botulinum toxin functions as a temporary paralyzer to allow the muscles around the mouth to curl upward and create the illusion of fuller and larger lips.

Botox cosmetic treatment is also used to correct a gummy smile, a condition where the gums above the upper teeth show when smiling. It’s done by inserting the needle into the Cupid’s bow area which is the middle of the upper lip where the orbicularis oris muscle can be found. The neurotoxin injected will help relax the muscles to cover the gums and make the lip look plumper at the same time

What Are the Possible Risks From the Procedures?

Both lip fillers and Botox treatment are done under the supervision of licensed medical professionals to ensure a safe procedure. After receiving the injectable treatment, most patients can resume their activities due to the limited recovery time needed for both treatments.

However, individuals may still experience some swelling, bruising, redness, numbness, and headache as minor side effects. Most of these reactions usually go away after a few days wherein the full effects of the treatment will also start to show.

In the rare event that severe side effects such as prolonged muscle weakness, visual problems, and difficulty speaking and breathing show, it’s recommended to seek immediate medical attention from the provider or a hospital. 

How to Know Which Treatment You Should Get

Anyone who wants to improve their look and achieve fuller lips are typically good candidates for both procedures. However, it’s important to have a better understanding of the different options available and see how effective they are in meeting your cosmetic goals. 

For lip fillers, many numerous hyaluronic acid-based brands work differently from one another such as: 

  • Juvederm Ultra XC (for those who want plumper lips) – This is an injectable gel that adds more fullness to the lips.
  • Juvederm Volbella (for those who want to reduce the appearance signs of aging) – This provides a smoothing effect that minimizes wrinkles and vertical lines around the mouth. 
  • Restylane (for those who want to revolumize the lips) – This is a good lip augmentation choice that also restores your lips’ younger and natural look.

On the other hand, Botox lip flip is a viable option for those looking to get poutier lips without changing the actual shape and volume around the mouth area. It’s less risky in a way that the toxin used to temporarily paralyze the muscles wear off over time. 

Learn more: Lip Fillers Comparison: Restylane vs Juvederm

Why Lips Lose Volume and Become Thin Over Time

Collagen is one of the most important building blocks needed by the body. It makes up 70% of the skin’s protein and is vital in providing structure to the epidermis and keeping its youthful supple texture. 

It goes hand-in-hand with another protein found in connective tissues called elastin. It’s a highly malleable substance that allows skin to smoothly bounce, stretch, and return to its normal form. However, once peaking adulthood in your 20s, studies show that the body begins to lose collagen at about 1% every year. 

And along with exposure to various environmental and lifestyle factors, the skin gradually gets damaged, and tissue regeneration is slowed down which leads to the eventual appearance of facial wrinkles, skin sagging, and thinning lips. Here are some of the factors that significantly affect the lips and deplete the skin structure in the body: 

1. UV damage

Sun exposure is one of the main causes of aging. The sun emits ultraviolet radiation which is categorized further into three types: 

  • UVC radiation: It has the shortest wavelength and has little to no effect on the skin. 
  • UVB radiation: It directly affects the epidermis and usually causes sunburn. Prolonged exposure during its intense hours at 10 am to 2 pm can cause further damage to the skin. 
  • UVA radiation: It penetrates deeper into the skin as compared to UVB. It’s also considered a major contributor to most skin illnesses. 

In general, UV radiation speeds up the breakdown of collagen in the body. It works by penetrating the middle layer of the skin (dermis) and causes the abnormal buildup of elastin. Continued exposure to the sun accelerates this process, leading to many skin-related flaws like wrinkling, sagging, thinning of lips, and even worse, skin cancer.

2. Smoking

Cigarettes harm almost every organ in the body and pose health risks such as cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and stroke. The biggest reason for this is the presence of nicotine, which is a chemical compound that can cause blood vessels to shrink and deprive the skin of the oxygen it needs to remain healthy and firm. 

It can also cause uneven pigmentation around the lips and gums, making them appear blotchy or dark. Smoking also increases the risk of collagen damage which can affect the regeneration of tissues and lead to premature wrinkles, fine lines, crow’s feet, and vertical lip lines or smoker’s lines.

3. Inflammation and stress 

Inflammation typically happens as the body’s immune response to external stimuli or triggers. When this occurs, the connective tissues are damaged. Most causes of inflammation are an allergic reaction, irritation, or pollution.

It’s important to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet as poor intake of food can also set off inflammation. Meal plans that are high in sugar, carbohydrates, and processed meat often promote inflammation in the body, weakening the skin foundation and expediting the aging process.

Stress also contributes to the outbreak of various problems. When the body is under immense pressure, there’s a significant decline in the production of elastin which contributes to the formation of wrinkles and creases in the face. People also unconsciously frown for longer periods under stressful conditions, which can cause the mouth to sag. 

Natural Remedies for Plump Lips 

Now that you know that most facial issues and thinning lips are caused by a variety of external factors, it’s important to know that there are ways to easily take care of them that do not require being subjected to injections and fillers. Before consulting the doctor, you may try some remedies to get healthier looking lips: 

1. Take supplements

One way to enhance the body’s natural ability to produce collagen is by taking oral supplements. They are widely available in the market and often referred to as hydrolyzed peptides. These are digestible forms of collagen (taken from fish and cows) that can support the cell’s fibroblasts to create elastin. They are also effective in improving hydration and can slow down the effects of skin aging. 

2. Use sunscreen 

Today, sunscreen products are already considered a skincare essential as UV rays are known to directly damage the skin. One thing to consider when choosing a sunscreen is the amount of sun protection factor, also known as SPF. 

SPF measures how well the product can protect the skin from UVB rays. It indicates the amount of time the rays need to penetrate the skin and bring potential damage. The recommended SPF number is at least 30, which means it would take UVB rays 30 times longer to cause harm and burn the skin than if no sunscreen is used. 

It’s also good to look for brands that have physical sunscreen ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These work to block and scatter the rays before permeating through the skin and causing long-term effects. You can also look for moisturizing components like hyaluronic acid which hydrate and smoothen the area around the lips. 

3. Drink plenty of fluids 

Regular water consumption keeps the body hydrated including the lips. It’s advised to consume the recommended 8 glasses of water daily to thicken the dermal layer, which eventually makes for plumper and poutier lips. Along with drinking water, it’s also a must to get 8 hours of sleep and take daily vitamins to stimulate the production of collagen. 

4. Exfoliate 

Lip exfoliation can help treat chapped lips, as well as reduce dryness and flaking to restore the natural shine and smoothness of the lips. It’s important to choose an exfoliating ingredient that has a moisturizing and hydrating effect. There are options to buy lip scrubs or create your own by using ingredients that you can find at home such as coconut oil, honey, and sugar. 

Essential oils are also a good way to add plumpness to the lips. Cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and peppermint oils are some of the most effective as they have properties that can boost circulation and stimulate the lips to look fuller.

5. Use a lip plumper 

If you want a more convenient way to make lips firmer, then lip plumpers are the way to go. Many balms, lipsticks, and lip glosses can quickly make lips appear soft and provide them with moisture to look supple. It’s an easy fix for working women and young professionals who are always on the go and want to look their best. 

You can also try applying topical serums or creams with vitamin C or hyaluronic acid. If applied together with an oil or wax-based lip balm, they can sufficiently provide moisture to dry lips and keep them soft and shiny throughout the day.

Factors to Consider When Getting Lip Enhancement 

beautiful teenage girl with freckles

When the home remedies don’t seem to be doing enough for your lips or if you want a more long-lasting solution, maybe it’s time to look over the procedures for lip enhancement. But before getting started on the dermal filler injections or lip flip, there are some things to consider to ensure that you will get the right treatment: 

  • Take note that patients who don’t have preexisting medical conditions and are nonsmokers are generally good candidates for lip injections. If you have infections, diabetes, autoimmune illnesses, bleeding problems, or allergy to anesthesia, it might be good to rethink that filler injection or Botox lip flip procedure. 
  • Specify what you want to achieve with the procedure. The plastic surgeon would likely recommend the right course of treatment, whether lip filler or lip flip, upon knowing your desired outcome. It will also help them know what type of filler to use to meet your needs. 
  • Set expectations. Read up on the possible risks of getting filler treatment or lip flip injections so you can prepare ahead of the procedure.
  • Follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions. To see the best possible result after the treatment, it’s important to take extra cautions to let the injectable settle without any complications. 
  • Select a trusted provider. Lip fillers and Botox are commonly administered by board-certified physicians and skin experts. It’s necessary to sign up for a licensed clinic so you can be sure that you can come out of the procedure with little to no aftereffects. 

Find the Lip Enhancement Option That Suits You at Ethos Spa

Nowadays, it’s very easy to combat the signs of aging with just a few skincare products and cosmetic treatments that guarantee visible results. However, determining what works for your skin and needs may be a challenge that requires insightful input from skin experts. 

Our seasoned doctors and registered medical professionals at Ethos Spa, Skin and Laser Center can help you decide on the treatment that you deserve. We specialize in treating thinning lips with our quality lip fillers and safe Botox treatments that have helped numerous clients get the pouty lips they have been dreaming of. Schedule a consultation with one of our helpful experts to know how we can help you.

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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