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Thin Lips - Why do I have them and what can I do about them?

Some people naturally have thinner lips than others, but age and lifestyle factors can also play a part in the appearance of thin lips.

Tagged: Facial Treatments

Date: 11th February 2022

Medically Reviewed by:  Dr. Susan Mayou (GMC: 2405092)

Last reviewed: 6th January 2024

Thin Lips - Why do I have them and what can I do about them?

Some people naturally have thinner lips than others, but age and lifestyle factors can also play a part in the appearance of thin lips.

Here we will explore what causes thin lips and what can be done to help plump them up.

Just like any other physical characteristic, genes play a role in the appearance of thin lips. Some people are born with naturally thin lips.

Age plays a major role in the appearance of thin lips. As we age, our skin loses its natural elasticity, which gives our skin and lips their youthful ‘plumpness’. This also causes the lips to lose their firmness, leading to sagging and wrinkles around the mouth. This can be made even worse by a lack of lip care, for example, by not moisturising the lips regularly.

Smoking can have a terrible ageing effect on the face, but particularly around the mouth area. Nicotine causes blood vessels in the area to shrink, which reduces blood flow and stops the lips from getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to remain healthy and supple. The repeated puckering of the lips while smoking can also cause ageing wrinkles to form around the lips, exacerbating the problem further.

The lips are very sensitive, and repeated sun exposure can accelerate the depletion of their natural collagen. This will cause thin lips and excess wrinkles to form around the mouth area, ageing the face.

What can I do about thin lips?

There are a number of things you can do to help plump up the appearance of thin lips.

The biggest thing you can do for your overall health is to quit smoking. Although kicking the habit won’t reverse the damage, stopping smoking will prevent your lips from getting thinner and more wrinkled.

When it comes to protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, the lips often get overlooked. When you slap on the suncream, make sure you also apply a quality lip balm with SPF protection. Limit your sun exposure generally for the long-term health of your skin.

Just like the skin on your face and body, you should exfoliate and moisturise your lips regularly to remove the dead skin cells and hydrate, leaving lips looking younger and plumper for longer.

 

You can create the illusion of bigger lips with the magic of makeup. Beauty experts say that a heavy contour and an over-lined lip can be transformative if you are self-conscious about thin lips.

A few years ago, the popular Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge hit social media. This saw teenagers and young women inserting their lips into a shot glass or small jar, before sucking out the air to create a vacuum. Their goal was to create full, pouty lips like Kylie Jenner. However, this often resulted in over-inflated lips, swelling, bruising and infection. It can ultimately have the reverse effect as DIY lip plumping can damage collagen and elastin, the very proteins that give lips their youthful plumpness and firmness. This type of DIY lip plumping is dangerous and we would not advise anyone to try it.

The safest and most effective way to plump up thin lips is via lip fillers, administered at a reputable clinic by a professional cosmetic surgeon.

Lip filler treatment is a popular non-surgical treatment to boost both the shape and volume of thin lips via the injection of dermal lip filler. Here at the Cadogan Clinic, we only use FDA-approved products by JUVÉDERM® or RESTYLANE®. These are based on the naturally occurring active agent hyaluronic acid rather than collagen to plump up the skin. The fillers will dissolve over time and are eventually reabsorbed into the body. 

The results of these temporary lip fillers can last up to a year and you will need to repeat the treatment in order to maintain the result.

If you are looking for a more permanent solution to thin lips, then fat transfer is safe, effective and produces a natural-looking result.

This surgical treatment sees fat removed from another part of the body, such as the stomach, thighs or buttocks, via liposcution. This fat is cleaned and processed before it is injected into the lips, restoring volume to thin lips. 

This treatment can provide a permanent solution to thin lips if the fat ‘takes’ to its new location. On occasion, it may be necessary to perform touch-up procedures to enhance the final result.

A lip flip is a treatment that is increasing in popularity and has been the subject of much press attention recently. The non-surgical procedure is designed to make the upper lip appear fuller, without increasing the volume of the lips. In this treatment, anti-ageing injectables are introduced to the muscles around the upper lip. This relaxes the muscles, making the upper lip turn upwards and outwards, giving the illusion of a fuller upper lip. Unlike lip filler treatment, no extra volume is being injected into the lips, but instead, the consultant is merely rearranging what is already there to create the illusion of a plumper upper lip. It is a quick and easy treatment, taking just 10 to 20 minutes to complete, but the downside is that the results are short-lived. The effects of the injections only last for eight to 12 weeks, depending on the individual patient. 

It may be tempting to go to a beautician for lip fillers or a lip flip. But don’t allow yourself to be swayed by low prices. When not administered correctly, these treatments can be dangerous and often produce a substandard result. There is also no guarantee that the filler is of high quality or even safe to use. Here at the Cadogan Clinic, our consultants are trained up to the highest standards and you can rest assured that you will be in expert hands, whichever lip treatment you decided to go for. Book an appointment to discuss which treatment would be best suited to you.

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