Lip Service

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Full and voluptuous lips are associated with beauty, youthfulness and femininity. Throughout history, however, if you weren't blessed with a perfect pout from birth, the only solution was to create the illusion of plumper lips with lipstick and/or lip liner.

Recent advances in aesthetic medicine have changed that.

Today, fillers and neurotoxins empower the proverbial pucker. Thanks in part to social media stars like Kylie Jenner, who talks openly about undergoing such treatments, nonsurgical lip enhancement is now one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures.

So, what constitutes the perfect pout?

While everyone is different and the perception of beauty varies by culture, a longstanding principle in aesthetic medicine describes the ideal proportion for lips as an upper-lip-to-lower-lip ratio of 1/3 to 2/3, meaning the lower lip is larger than the top lip. Other aspects of ideal lips include distinct philtral columns, the two vertical lines that come down from the central nose to join the Cupid's bow, the two peaks in the middle of the top lip. Fullness in the tubercles, the prominent points in the body of the lips, is also considered to be desirable, as are upturned corners of the mouth and overall symmetry.

Due to aging, genetics and environmental factors, these characteristics change with the passage of time. The distance between the nose and top lip elongates, the lips deflate, the Cupid's bow and philtral columns flatten, the corners of the mouth downturn and the skin around the mouth becomes wrinkled and coarse.

Fillers - temporary, injectable gels such as Belotero, Juvederm and Restylane - can add volume to the lips, correct asymmetry and fill in fine lines around the mouth. These fillers are comprised of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring structural component of skin. Treatments, which are virtually pain-free, involve injecting tiny droplets of filler in and around the lips with results typically lasting six to nine months.

Neurotoxins - such as Botox, Xeomin and Dysport, which are commonly used to help eliminate wrinkles in the forehead and around the eyes - can also be used in the lower face to help enhance the appearance of the mouth. Neurotoxins work by interfering with signaling between nerves and the muscles they control, resulting in a weakening of the muscles that create movement and wrinkles. Botox injected along the upper and lower lips, for example, can help to soften the mouth's vertical creases, often referred to as "smoker's lines." Botox can also help to create an upturn in the corners of the mouth, reversing the downturn that occurs with aging. Results usually last three to four months.

Lips are the central focus of the lower face, so enhancing their natural beauty - simply, affordably, and comfortably - is a great way to create a younger, refreshed appearance. Thanks to the fillers and neurotoxins, aging doesn't require kissing lovely lips goodbye.

- Tracy Leong, M.D.
www.facesplus.com

Tracy Leong, MD
Dermatologist, FACES+
Fellow, American Academy of Dermatology

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