Lip flips may have been trending on TikTok, but is it the right choice for you?
From dance crazes and before and after glow-ups, to Emily Mariko's salmon rice bowls, there's no doubt that TikTok creates fads. In the world of plastic surgery, the new social platform is bringing to light trends new and old and is helping to shape the conversation by providing influencers, patients and physicians alike the opportunity to discuss popular aesthetic procedures.
The latest trending topic? "Lip flips" – a cosmetic procedure that sounds almost too good to be true. Lip flips create a fuller look without increasing the actual volume of the lip. While they may have been brought to light by the latest platform, they aren't anything new.
"We have been performing lip flips with neurotoxin around the mouth for many years," says Ashley Amalfi, MD, a New York-based plastic surgeon and member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "It is not new at all but has gained a lot of popularity in recent years."
What is a lip flip?
A lip flip is a procedure that uses neuromodulators, such as Botox, to relax a muscle in the upper lip, causing the lip to "flip" and giving the appearance of a fuller upper lip. The procedure is different than getting lip fillers, which are injections directly into the lip, as opposed to above it. With lip flips, however, some patients can achieve a more natural look than they may be able to with fillers.
Lip flip patients are often categorized and treated similarly to a "gummy-smile" patient, whose upper lip may curl inward or disappear when smiling, says Smita Ramanadham, MD, a New Jersey-based plastic surgeon and member of ASPS.
"By injecting very specific muscles, we can sort of relax them, so you have a more full smile," says Dr. Ramanadham.
Who is a candidate?
As with any surgical procedure, not everyone's smile is suitable for a lip flip – even those who may be good candidates for lip fillers.
"The ideal patient is someone who has a hyperactive muscle around their mouth that causes their upper lip to turn in or pull up dramatically when they smile," Dr. Amalfi says. "The lip flip relies on a neurotoxin like Botox to weaken that overactive muscle, allowing more of the upper lip to show when the patient smiles."
While some smiles may show entire teeth or portions of the gums, explains Dr. Amalfi, the lip flip "is going to allow that muscle to relax a little bit so that the top of the mouth is a straighter line when a person smiles and just shows a little bit of tooth, which is kind of more of a desirable smile."
Lip fillers vs lip flips
While they may sound similar, lip flips and lip fillers are two totally different procedures. While lip flips use a neuromodulator such as Botox, lip fillers are injections of a thicker material, such as hyaluronic acid, directly into the lips.
"Mostly what I'm using is hyaluronic acid, and there are different consistencies, says Dr, Amalfi. "Some are a lot thinner and are going to give you a more subtle result, but there's a whole gambit of them."
Are there any side effects?
Like with any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, there are possible side effects, so it is important to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon who can help you figure out if a lip flip is right for you.
"If the treatment is not specifically individualized for your anatomy and examination, patients can experience a change in the shape of their smile or a heavy upper lip," says Dr. Ramanadham. "Additionally, if treatment is excessive and is not dosed properly, it can lead to drooling or inability to maintain a seal when using a straw or drinking."
While videos on TikTok may showcase optimal results, it's important to realize that not all patients are a fit for the specific procedure you may be seeing. Make sure to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon that is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons when trying to decide what procedure is right for you.
To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.