Do you notice that when you speak, smile, or make facial expressions, your upper lip seems to disappear as it curls inwards? This frequent curling and thinning of the upper lip is common, but can make some people feel very self-conscious about their smile and appearance. If you feel your upper lip is excessively curling inward when you talk or smile, the issue may be naturally thin lips or a condition called a “gummy smile”. Fortunately, Botox injections offer an effective solution to relax the upper lip muscles and reduce unwanted curling.
What Causes Upper Lip Curling?
There are two main reasons why your upper lip may involuntarily curl under when you speak or smile:
Thin lips that disappear when smiling or talking can simply be a result of aging. As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen which leads to the loss of volume and plumpness in the lips. Some people also have naturally thinner lips from birth. Either way, thin lips are more likely to curl inward when the muscles contract.
A gummy smile is when your upper lip rises up so high when you smile that it exposes excessive gum tissue above your teeth. This occurs when the muscle that controls your upper lip is hyperactive and over-contracts. As it pulls the upper lip up vigorously, it reveals more gum and gives the appearance of very thin lips. A gummy smile exacerbates thin lips and can make the curling inwards more pronounced.
What Is a Lip Flip Procedure?
A “lip flip” refers to a treatment that uses Botox strategically injected into the upper lip to prevent it from curling inwards and essentially flip the lip outwards instead. Botox is injected into the central peak of the upper lip (the Cupid’s bow) as well as the mouth corners.
When the Botox takes effect, it relaxes and paralyzes the upper lip muscles so they do not contract as vigorously. Rather than curling under when you speak or smile, your upper lip will relax and flip upwards and outwards. This both reduces a gummy smile effect and gives the appearance of fuller, plumper lips.
How Can Botox Injections Help Reduce Upper Lip Curling?
Botox contains botulinum toxin, which blocks nerve signals to the muscles to paralyze them temporarily. Usually it is used to paralyze facial muscles that cause wrinkles, thereby smoothing the skin. However, injected into the upper lip muscles, Botox can prevent them from contracting forcefully and curling the lip inward.
With the muscles relaxed, the upper lip just rests in a natural flipped out position rather than spasming inward. Not only does this minimize a gummy smile, but it subtly enhances the shape and fullness of the lips as well. The effects last 3-4 months typically before wearing off.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Botox Lip Flip?
Ideal candidates for a lip flip include:
- Adults over age 18
- People with no allergies to Botox
- Those with no current skin infections
- Individuals seeking an alternative to lip filler injections
- Anyone noticing frequent upper lip curling when talking or making facial expressions
It is also a good idea to consult your dentist first if you have a gummy smile, as sometimes this is caused by excessive gum tissue rather than just muscle movement.
How Do Lip Flips Compare to Lip Fillers?
While both enhance the lips, a lip flip with Botox and a lip filler injection differ in some important ways:
- Botox injections relax muscles
- Gives the appearance of fuller lips without added volume
- Reduces upper lip curling
- Looks natural
- Results last 3-4 months
- Dermal filler injections add volume
- Changes the actual structure and shape of the lips
- Does not affect muscle movement
- Risk of unnatural look if overdone
- Results last 6 months or longer
The Lip Flip Procedure
The process takes just 10-15 minutes in a medical spa or clinic. The doctor marks the injection sites at the Cupid’s bow and corner of the mouths. After sterilizing the skin, the Botox is injected into the upper lip muscle using a very fine needle. There is minimal discomfort. No anesthesia is required.
Patients should avoid blood thinners several days before the procedure to minimize bruising risk. Some initial swelling, numbness, and tenderness are common but resolve within a few days.
Aftercare and Results
There is no major downtime after getting Botox lip flip injections. However, you should avoid manipulating the treated area or laying down for 3-4 hours to prevent the Botox from migrating. Also avoid very hot or spicy foods temporarily.
It takes about 3 days to start seeing the effects as the Botox kicks in. Maximum results are visible at around 2 weeks. For 3-4 months, your upper lip should have a natural flipped out appearance and avoid the excessive curling inward.
As the Botox wears off over time, follow up maintenance injections can be done. Some bruising, trouble speaking, and drooling are temporary normal side effects. Most patients are thrilled with the subtle but transformative improvement a lip flip Botox injection can provide.
If your upper lip seems to disappear as it curls under when you talk, smile, or make facial movements, a Botox lip flip could help relax those muscles. Not only does it minimize an unsightly gummy smile, it can give you noticeably fuller and plumper lips with zero down time. Consult with an experienced cosmetic provider to see if a lip flip may be right for you.