How Is Botox Used for Lip Injections?

Medically reviewed by Catherine Hannan, MD on November 14, 2017Written by Diana Wells

What can Botox do?

Injecting botulinum toxin type A (Botox) into your lip area can provide several cosmetic benefits or improvements.

Botox is the cosmetic form of botulinum toxin, a chemical that can temporarily weaken or paralyze your muscles. One round of injections can cause your muscles to relax for about three months.

When injected in the lip area, Botox can help:

  • minimize creases in the upper and lower lip area
  • elevate the corners of your mouth
  • remove marionette lines, or lines that run downward from the corners of your mouth
  • correct a “gummy” smile
  • enhance the upper lip, also known as the “Botox lip flip”

How Botox lip injections change the appearance of your lips depends on where it’s injected. For example, in the case of the “Botox lip flip,” the chemical relaxes the muscles around your lips and causes them to curl up. This can make them look larger.

In most cases, Botox injections usually take about 10 to 15 minutes. Injections aren’t considered a surgical procedure, and no recovery time is needed afterward. You should be able to continue your usual activities immediately after your appointment.

Read on to learn if Botox injections can help you achieve the results and appearance you desire for your lips.

How does the ‘Botox lip flip’ work?

The “Botox lip flip” is a procedure done with Botox injections to make your lips appear larger.

To do this, your dermatologist or plastic surgeon will inject multiple units of Botox into the upper middle part of your upper lip. When the muscles relax, your lip will curl upward. This lengthens your upper lip, making it appear larger without actually adding any volume.

If you’re looking to add plumpness, talk to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon about adding a lip filler injection. You can opt for only lip filler, or use Botox and lip fillers for a dramatic plumping effect.

If you choose to combine procedures, your doctor will likely use Botox to create the lip flip and the filler hyaluronic acid (Restylane or Juvederm) to add plumpness. This effect usually lasts two to three weeks, making it a popular choice for special occasions.

What’s the Botox technique for a ‘gummy’ smile?

You may have also looked up lip plumping as a treatment for a “gummy” smile. If the gums above your upper teeth show when you smile, it’s considered “gummy.” Some people may also display little or no upper lip when they smile. The technique for reducing a gummy smile is similar to the Botox lip flip.

To do this, your doctor will inject Botox into the area of your lip known as the Cupid’s bow. This is the middle of your upper lip, where the orbicularis oris muscle is. This is the muscle you work when you pucker your lips.

The Botox will make your muscles relax, causing your lips to curl slightly. When you smile, your relaxed muscles will help cover your gums and allow more of your lips to show. This effect will make your lip look bigger.

However, like you would before a “Botox lip flip,” you should consult your dermatologist or plastic surgeon if you wish to add volume to your lips.

What else can you use for lip plumping?

Lip plumping is primarily done for aesthetic purposes, whether it’s to reduce the appearance of a gummy smile or achieve fuller lips. Some adults may also be interested in lip plumping to counter the effects of aging, as lip fullness can decrease with age. Botox can’t solve this issue, but injectable lip fillers can.

There are several options to choose from when deciding on the right lip filler for your desired results. Some popular lip injectables use ingredients like hyaluronic acid. These include:

Injections and fillersEffectHow long does it last?
Juvederm Ultra or Restylane SilkIt adds just enough volume to smooth out lines; it’s ideal for people who do not want a dramatic effect.about 6 months, but less if you move your mouth a lot, as movements remove injections
Regular Restylane or Juvederm Ultra PlusIt offers the most dramatic plumping and enlarging effect.about 6 months, but longer if done alongside Botox
Restylane Refyne and Restylane DefyneIt creates a natural look without looking over-plumped.about 6–12 months
VolbellaIt’s subtle and natural.about 2 years

Botox and other lip injections are effective for what they are meant to do. However, they will each give you different results. It’s important that you discuss your options and the results you want with your doctor to determine which treatment is right for you.

If you’d like something more permanent, ask your doctor about lip fillers that use fat or other substances. These options require a surgical procedure that may increase your risk of possible complications.

What about using Botox to smoothing lip lines and wrinkles?

The primary cosmetic use for Botox injections is to reduce or temporarily eliminate lines and wrinkles on your face, including the lip area.

Lip lines and wrinkles develop naturally over time as a result of:

  • laughing
  • smiling
  • frowning
  • kissing
  • smoking
  • aging

If you wish to reduce lines, talk to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon about your options. They may recommend injectable lip fillers if you also wish to add plumpness.

What are the possible side effects and risks of using Botox?

Botox and other lip injections are considered safe when performed by a licensed medical professional. All doctors are required to follow safety guidelines established by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration. However, the use of botulinum toxin in the perioral area (around the lips) is still considered “off-label” by the FDA.

Regardless, you may still experience mild side effects following the procedure. These typically last a couple of days and may include:

  • numbness at the injection site
  • bruising at the injection site
  • swelling, which can cause your lips to temporarily appear larger than expected
  • tenderness
  • headache
  • nausea

There are some risks specific to injections around the mouth. For example, the relaxation effect that weakens the lip muscles and reduces the appearance of wrinkles can also hinder your ability to pucker, kiss, whistle, and suck through straws. It may even affect your speech and enunciation. Some people report biting their lips inadvertently.

Rare but serious side effects are also possible if the Botox moves from the targeted muscle to other locations in your body.

Seek immediate medical attention if you begin experiencing:

  • overall muscle weakness
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty speaking
  • difficulty swallowing
  • visual disturbances

You shouldn’t use Botox injections if you’re pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant within the next three months.

How much do lip injections cost?

Botox injections and fillers are often considered a “natural” aesthetic procedure because they don't involve going under the knife. The results are also temporary, lasting anywhere from two weeks to six months or more.

If you’re considering Botox injections, you may also want to think about the long-term costs.

Insurance usually won’t cover Botox or other lip injections unless it’s being used for therapeutic purposes. You should expect to pay for cosmetic treatments out of pocket.

The price of one session depends on the type of injection used and the amount used. It can also vary by location. This means that some treatments may cost as little as $50, while others top out around $1,500. Your dermatologist or plastic surgeon can provide you with a specific figure.

Speak with your doctor

Talk to your doctor or a medical professional if you’re interested in Botox injections. Make sure you read reviews from former and current customers, and ask to see before and after photos of any procedures that you’re considering.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you’re comfortable with the doctor or surgeon you select! It’s important they understand the result you want from the procedure.

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