Our lips are a central attribute of our faces; enabling us to express our emotions, influencing how we aesthetically age through dynamic expression and lending proportion and balance to our other facial features.Even without expression or talking, our lips can speak a thousand words. The human eye perceives thin, turned-in lips as conveying terseness or concentration, or naturally downturned lips as conveying sadness or distain. Dry lips can indicate dehydration or illness. Plump lips denote good hydration and health. Without realising it, rightly or wrongly, we make thousands of tiny subconscious judgements within seconds of looking at a face. In this way, rejuvenating or enhancing lips with dermal fillers can significantly change how we and others see our faces.When in the hands of a skilled injector, this can be very beneficial – but over-filling or mis-treating the lips can also have a reverse effect, making the face look imbalanced or strange and unnatural.Lips are incredibly unique, and it is rare to find two people with exactly the same lips, just as there will always be minor asymmetries and irregularities in each set of lips. There are, however, common categories of lip shapes that we see when patients present seeking lip enhancement procedures, with different lip shapes requiring a different treatment plan and approach.Lip anatomy Unlike other parts of the face, lips have no cartilage or bone, making them very dynamic and pliable in their movements.This anatomy allows us to make the facial expressions mentioned earlier. Lips also do not have any sebaceous glands (small glands within the skin that maintain hydration) leaving them more susceptible to sun damage and dehydration. An experienced injector will take all elements of your lip anatomy into account, including their natural attributes or deficits, when planning your injectables treatment. What are the common lip shapes?Full lipsThese lips are full in volume, with the volume of the upper lip almost matching the volume of the lower lip. The volume is also even across the upper and lower lips, with no obvious areas of volume loss. Thin Lips: These lips are narrow; they have very little volume and often sit slightly inverted, or curled under. Sometimes there will be good definition along the lip border, or there will be none, with the border looking like two straight lines across the mouth, and no defined cupids bow. Lips that are thinner on the sidesThese lips have good volume in the central aspects of the upper and lower lips, but the volume tapers off, with the lateral part of the lips inverted under and not showing much of the pink lip body. Wrinkled LipsThese lips may be small or large in volume, but have a lot of loose lip tissue and dehydration lines. This can come as a result of sun exposure, poor hydration or simply ageing. These lips can often have lots of upper lip lines above the lips as well, as a result of smoking or pursing the lips. Dehydrated lipsThis lip type looks dry and dehydrated, even when their owner is well hydrated! In this case, rehydrating, plumping fillers are used to create the appearance of well-drenched lips. What treatments can be performed?Muscle RelaxantsThese can be used to relax the muscle under the lip (orbicularis oris) from pulling harshly when pursing the lips, leading to a softening of upper lip wrinkles. However, this only lasts 3-4 months and will not take away upper lip lines already etched into the skin.Muscle relaxants can also be used to the lip muscle to limit how inverted the lip is as rest, and how much tucks under when smiling. This is known as a ‘lip flip’ and creates a fuller lip when smiling and subtle change in the lips at rest. This will not add any volume to the lips, rather just show more of your own natural lip tissue that may be tucked under.Dermal FillerLip filler is used to add hydration, volume, structure, and projection to the lips. Softer fillers will simply add hydration whilst thicker fillers will improve volume, projection and provide structure to improve asymmetries. Fine lines around the mouth or upper lip lines can be treated with dermal filler to improve the appearance by directly filling the wrinkle with a hydrating skin booster filler that is made purely for fine lines within the superficial layer of the face. A cannula and/or fine, sharp tipped needle are used. above: before and after lip filler treatment with Nurse Britt at The Sharp ClinicsTo find out more about lip injections or dermal fillers, book a complimentary consultation with our clinicians by calling 3202 4744.