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Will Lip Fillers Make Me Look Fake?

Maybe you’ve dreamt of having plumper lips but the idea of lip fillers actually scares you. This is more than likely because you’ve seen trout pouts, duck lips and sausage lips in newspapers, on social media and maybe even on people you know. But, in reality, when done by a medically qualified practitioner with a great eye, lip fillers are safe and give gorgeous, natural-looking results. To find out more about the worries surrounding lip fillers, I spoke to Harley Academy's Dr Emily MacGregor.

Hi Dr Emily! Many people would like to have lip fillers but are worried that they'll end up looking fake. How do you reassure them they won't?

I sometimes show them photos that are examples of my work but, ultimately, I tell them that they will have to trust me! I also let them know that I will show them how the treatment is progressing half way through (in a mirror), which tends to reassure them.

That sounds like a great way of doing it. How do you achieve such natural looking lips?

I achieve natural-looking lips by using a very soft product. This will be less volumising than a firmer filler, so if you wanted to make lips larger you would need more of this filler to achieve that.

Another way I achieve this is by following the natural lip shape. I don't try to change the natural shape too much; you can only work with what's there and can’t create a completely different mouth for someone with fillers!

It’s also important to keep an eye on proportions from all angles before and during treatment. An easy way to make lips look unnatural is to end up with a top lip that in profile view sticks out more than the bottom lip, and if you only look at a front view this can be missed.

Have you ever come across any bad examples of lip fillers? What are the typical features that make them look so bad?

Many sadly! I’ve come across lips where the shape is distorted due to incorrect product choice or placement; top lip over-projection, which is where it sticks out from a side view; lips that have been volumised too much without supporting the surrounding structures, for example, mouth corners, chin crease, and leads to a 'sulky pout' look; lips treated on someone over 50 that have been volumised and smoothed to look disproportionately ‘young’ for their skin and other facial features;...there are so many examples.

Have you ever had to correct anyone else's lip fillers? If so, how?

Yes, I often have to do other people's corrections, unfortunately. I dissolve the existing filler that is there and then re-treat the lips a few weeks later. Starting again is much more likely to get good results than treating over 'bad filler'. Dissolving filler is actually a straightforward and safe procedure, but I always think it is sad when people have filler results that aren't right and don't know that they could remove them easily.

Definitely! And it seems to be something that happens all too often. How much is too much when it comes to lip fillers?

It's completely down to the individual, the filler product choice and the natural size of the lips. Generally speaking a single 1ml treatment with a good quality soft filler is very unlikely to be too much for anyone. Personally, I very rarely use more than 1ml in a single treatment, as I prefer to build up slowly to ensure the most natural result. As a ballpark figure I would say that more than 3ml of lip filler within a year is likely to be too much.

You often hear the terms ‘shelf’, ‘plateau’ and ‘ledge’ in reference to lip fillers. What do these mean?

They all refer to varying degrees of the same thing - when filler has been placed in the vermillion border (where lip liner goes) or just above it and creates an unnatural ridge around the top lip. This can be fairly subtle and just cause a 'pearly shine' around the lip border, or can be a noticeable ridge, ledge or shelf that causes the lips to look 'stuck on' rather than seamlessly transitioning into the skin above the top lip. This is avoidable with correct treatment techniques and product choice.

Really interesting stuff. Thanks, Dr Emily! It’s good to know that with the right aesthetic practitioner - someone who’s medically qualified - bad lip fillers can be avoided and clients can just enjoy gorgeously plumped, hydrated lips.

Want to learn more about lip fillers? We have an excellent guide here that will tell you everything you need to know. And if you're interested in lip enhancement, check out the hundreds of medically qualified aesthetic practitioners on Glowday offering lip fillers.

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