Aesthetic nurse prescriber Julie Redmond on the growing popularity of lip enhancement, particularly with younger patients
Lips have become one of the most prevalent aesthetic enhancement procedures over recent years, particularly among younger patients, and their popularity has continued to grow throughout 2020, despite the introduction of masks into our daily lives. We have never lived in such an image-conscious world. The pandemic has meant that our first interactions with people are usually over some form of digital media but, even before COVID-19, most of us were on social media sharing pictures of our lives. Pictures have become an important factor in our social interactions and are often how we make an initial judgement about someone, whether it’s picking a potential partner on a dating site or choosing a future employee, as nearly all job applications now require a photo. As a result of all these things, what we look like has never been more apparent to us, and this may have particularly contributed to the rise in the popularity of lip fillers among the young. Another reason lip treatments are favoured by young people is because, more than any other filler treatment, they are about beauty enhancement and not just antiageing.
The triumvirate of eyes-nose-lips are the features that characterise our faces and give them their individuality, something we want to celebrate and enhance
In 2017, I made a documentary on why young people want to get lip fillers. I interviewed 10 young women who had had lip treatments and among the comments I got were, “everyone is doing it”, “it is readily available”, “I have small lips and want bigger ones”. Social media and their peers are the factors that most motivated them to have their lips done. Figures released by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons that year supported this growing interest, with 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they would consider having a cosmetic procedure. Since then demand for lip fillers has increased exponentially and the only real change is that there are now more practitioners and a wider choice of treatment options, some good, some bad. In fact, while lip enhancement performed on the right patient, with the right product and by the right practitioner can offer beautiful results, there is a dark side to the lip filler sector that has seen an increase in complications go hand-in-hand with the rising demand for treatment. Lip fillers were the number one cause of complaints and complications, according to a consumer complaints audit report by industry watchdog Save Face and more than half of respondents (59%) said they viewed having lip fillers as comparable to getting a haircut or having a manicure.1 It is for these reasons that standards, safety, education and product selection are so key when it comes to fillers, particularly in the lip.
As Brits we are often said to have a “stiff upper-lip”, meaning that we display fortitude and stoicism in the face of adversity, and this year has certainly been one for facing adversity. In aesthetics, however, the last thing we want is a “stiff upper lip”. What we are looking to achieve with lip injections is natural, soft and balanced looking lips that give strength and confidence to their owner from within. The triumvirate of eyes-nose-lips are the features that characterise our faces and give them their individuality, something we want to celebrate and enhance, not erase.
In my practice I find that, while some patients will come in with a picture of what they want, others simply say they want something to “balance their features” or “enhance their attractiveness” when it comes to lips. The Merz motto: “A natural look is an exact science”, perfectly sums up the philosophy that I believe should be at the core of lip treatments for the future. This is also why I stick to the golden ratio as much as possible with the ideal height ratio of the upper to the lower lip being 1:1.6 in Caucasian patients. You also need to evaluate lip fullness by looking at all areas of the lip: the philtrum, vermillion border, Cupid’s bow and the body. The Merz Aesthetics scales are fantastic for this. In my practice, I use BELOTERO® Lips Contour2 and BELOTERO® Lips Shape.3 As a practitioner, having two products with different qualities and bespoke injection techniques means you can tailor “tweakments” to individual needs rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. This is something that no other brand can give you.
BELOTERO Lips Contour2 is ideal for creating definition as it is very cohesive. This makes it excellent for highly mobile areas such as the vermillion border. It also has low viscosity so it offers great tissue integration and allows for superficial and even blanching injection technique.
BELOTERO Lips Shape3 is designed for volumising. By injecting it into the body of the lip you can create a fuller lip. It can also be used to lift oral commissures and to support the natural structure of the lip. It is still cohesive but you also have high elasticity, which is resistant to deformation, and it gives you a gentle elegant projection. Both products use cutting-edge patented CPM® technology4 which makes Merz lip products unique and, for me, is the future of aesthetics: minimum product, maximum longlasting effect.5
I believe facial beauty is about to enter a major renaissance. We saw a sudden increase in demand post-lockdown and I believe that is only going to continue. Zoom is going to be our office space for the foreseeable future and, as such, looking good on camera has never been more important to people, especially as quality improves enabling us to pick up on every fine detail of people’s faces. With the products we now have available and the subtlety of the results we can achieve, I predict lips, along with other aesthetic procedures, will continue to rise in popularity over the next five years. I also believe we are going to see an increase in demand for product longevity as people won’t want to come in for top-ups so often. I predict patients will become increasingly informed and start looking at factors such as these when planning their treatments in future and so the products we use will become even more significant.