Like many other people, I've spent the majority of the past year staring at my face on video calls and silently criticising any minor flaw. My main gripe was my asymmetrical top lip. For months I mulled over whether or not to get lip filler, and while it may be the right choice for some, stories left me terrified that I'd end up with bloated or unnatural-looking lips.
Not long ago, I came across a TikTok video in which a woman explained that she was about to book in for a 'lip flip'. Intrigued, I watched on and I was hooked by her description of the procedure, which would supposedly increase the size of her top lip very subtly by using Botox to relax the muscles around her mouth. Within two weeks of watching the clip, I'd booked in to see registered aesthetic practitioner Rupesh Shah at the London Lip Clinic for my first ever cosmetic procedure.
What is a lip flip and how does it differ from lip filler?
A lip flip is a strategic injection of Botox into the space just above your top lip (called the philtrum), which allows the muscles around the mouth to relax and gently roll upwards. This exposes more of the top lip (otherwise known as the vermilion). It gives the appearance of a fuller top lip without increasing the volume as filler does and also helps to conceal what may be referred to as a 'gummy' smile, as the lip can’t fully pull back. Unlike filler, the injection doesn’t go into the actual lip itself but into the muscles bordering the lip, making it a less painful, much quicker procedure.
What happens during and after a lip flip procedure?
During the lip flip procedure, there is a quick nonsurgical injection of Botox into the muscle above the top lip. I found this to be almost pain-free aside from a slight sting and it was over in less than a minute with minimal bleeding. I was able to eat and drink straightaway but Shah advised against skincare and exercise for the next few days afterwards to avoid moving the Botox or sweating it out.
Unlike filler, the procedure isn't instant. It can take up to four days for the Botox to take effect on the muscle, and then another week or two to see a difference in your lip. I started to feel the effects of the Botox the next morning and began to find it increasingly hard to do anything that requires pouting (like using a straw). But after four days, the muscles were fully relaxed. I was able to see a difference in the appearance of my top lip within a week, and after two weeks my top lip looked subtly but noticeably fuller than before.
What are the results of a lip flip?
The results of the lip flip are less obvious compared to filler. My top lip looks more full and the shape is much more aesthetically pleasing to me, however Shah notes, "Those interested in a lip flip must remember that it is only a slight flip of the top lip." Shah adds that if you want more volume then you should consider dermal fillers. "The results of a lip flip are ideal for someone who is hoping to achieve fuller lips without the puffiness of dermal filler," Shah continues.
Is the lip flip the new lip filler?
"Even though the lip flip is a very popular treatment, I can’t see it overtaking dermal fillers," Shah told me. "It lasts a shorter duration than filler and the results take time to show up, whereas fillers are almost immediate. Also if you don’t like fillers, they can be dissolved immediately, but with Botox you are stuck with it until it gets broken down by your body," added Shah.
Shah started offering this treatment at the beginning of 2020, making it relatively new in comparison to his 10+ years of aesthetic work with filler, but he has seen demand for the treatment increasing every month since then.
How much does a lip flip procedure cost in the UK and where can you get it?
The cost of a lip flip varies depending on where you’re based in the UK but expect prices to vary from £80 to £200. As with all cosmetic procedures, it’s far safer to pay a solid price and have the procedure performed by someone properly and expertly qualified than take the risk with someone who isn’t. The Save Face website lists many qualified aestheticians in the UK. As this is a relatively new procedure growing in popularity, you would have to check with an aesthetic practitioner local to you to find out if this is something they’re capable of doing.
How long does a lip flip last?
"Botox injected around the lips usually disappears in around three to four months, so it’s not a permanent or even particularly long-lasting treatment," Shah says, whereas fillers can last for much longer.
What do I need to know before booking in for a lip flip?
Before you book in for a lip flip, you should have a clear idea of what it is you want your lips to look like. If you want something more dramatic, then a lip flip probably isn’t for you. Shah says, "An ideal candidate for a lip flip would be someone who has a thinner upper lip and is interested in making the upper lip look slightly bigger. Also it's ideal for someone who is not ready to have fillers injected and wants only a natural and subtle look."
Another thing worth considering is that you will lose full control of your top lip for a few months as the muscle is relaxed entirely, so if you’re someone who loves to pout in photos or uses straws a lot, then you may struggle without this ability. Overall, I’m incredibly pleased with how understated and natural-looking my lip flip is and I would definitely get it done again in the future – even if I did end up dribbling my drink over me at first...