A lip flip at the dermatologist's office

The Lip Flip: How It’s Done

The lip flip is a new cosmetic procedure that enhances the appearance of the upper lip, giving it a fuller look with just one fast treatment. Like filler, it requires an injection. But instead of filler, botulinum toxin (commonly known as Botox) is injected, relaxing the muscle and making it flip upwards and outwards. It's increasing in popularity due to its cost-effectiveness, subtle results and minimal downtime.

Good candidates for lip flips are those who want to achieve fuller lips without fillers- perhaps due to the high cost, to avoid looking overdone (a common occurrence with lip filler) or to skip the notoriously bad swelling that fillers cause for the first few days. Lip flips typically don't require a touchup visit, making them a good choice for someone strapped for time. The procedure may be especially useful for people with "gummy smiles" that expose too much of the gum above their upper teeth, because it can cause less gum to show. It's also good for people who notice their upper lip seems to disappear when smiling, or those trying to reduce vertical lip lines on the upper lip.

The results of a lip flip are subtle, which is great for people looking for a natural appearance but not great for someone wanting a drastic change. It requires no downtime (though some people get bruising which can be covered up.

Botox being injected to perform a lip flip.
Botox being injected to perform a lip flip.

What happens at the lip flip appointment?

In a lip flip, four to six units of botulinum toxin are injected into the orbicularis oris muscle at the center and near the corners of the upper lip. This can cost under $100, though it's more important to see a well-trained board-certified dermatologist than to find the person willing to do it for the least amount of money. You can expect results to show up in about a week and to last 3-4 months. If you experience side effects such as difficulty drinking from a straw or pronouncing certain words, rest assured this will wear off on its own.

For a few days prior to the injections you should avoid alcohol and blood thinners that can worsen swelling (like ibuprofen and aspirin). The procedure takes approximately 10 minutes and most of the time topical numbing doesn't need to be applied. Topical numbing takes awhile to work and doesn't fully take away all feeling, plus these injections aren't too bad. After the injections, don't rub or massage your lips or else the medicine can diffuse to other areas. Also, avoid sleeping face down for a few hours.

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