Downturned mouth, thin lips and those pesky vertical lines that make our lipstick bleed. Marguerite Foulkes talks to the experts about exactly what can be done.

If you’ve noticed your lips thinning as you get older, it’s probably not your imagination. ‘Tissue becomes more lax, lips lose their volume, elasticity and contour, they thin and turn inwards’, explains consultant plastic surgeon Mr Roy Ng. There is not much we cando to prevent this process but there are now ways to slow it down, he says, and if we wish, to plump up the volume subtly.

Think carefully before you treat yourself to Angelina’s pneumatic lips: ‘It is important not just to look at the lips in isolation. This area is so dynamic that you must assess the appearance of the lips in different positions and expressions’, says Mr Neil Bulstrode, consultant plastic surgeon.

‘We can now combine the current range of options we have to achieve tailored solutions for individual patients. For example, temporary fillers for definition, shape, volume and lip lines, Permalip implants for safe, permanent volume and shape, and where indicated, surgery for lip lifting’, says Mr Ng. From the quick and temporary to the permanent, here are your options.


What It’s not rocket science: instant, short-lived plumping effect will be achieved by rubbing your lips with an irritant substance, which is why most lip plumpers contain cinnamon oil, ginger or chilli extract and may cause a tingling sensation. Avoid on cracked or sensitive lips.  Expert Beauty put to the test:

(from top left)

  • Sally Hansen Lip Inflation Extreme, £6.99 (supermarkets and Boots nationwide) ‘A nice gloss with a pleasant cinnamon smell and slight tingle. Moderate plumping effect.’
  • e.l.f Lip primer and plumper, £3.50 (www.eyeslipsface.co.uk). ‘Two-in-one budget wonder: primer for no budge, no smudge lipstick and cinnamon-scented plumper to visibly enhance lips without stickiness.’
  • Plump & Shine, £24.95 (call 0844 243 9243 for stockists). ‘Vanilla-scented coloured gloss with a hint of sparkle. A tingling, warming sensation kick-starts a visible plumping effect.’
  • Lip Rescue Kit by Repêchage, boxed kit with Exfoliating Cream,  Lip Perfecting Moisturizer,  Volume Enhancing Massager and Plumping Gloss, £25 (call 0800 731 7546 for stockists). ‘Pout makeover in four steps: exfoliate, moisturise, massage, then finish with the mango-smelling gloss – et voilà: plumped lips and lines appeared reduced.’


What Rich in antioxidants and moisturisers, sometimes with added SPF, these creams care for our lips daily. ‘Sun exposure is an important contributor to changes in lips as we get older. When thinking about sunscreens and your skin – remember your lips,’ warns consultant plastic surgeon John Davison.


Best for Improving the appearance of vertical lines around the lips and preventing lipstick feathering. Here are our testers’ verdict:

(from bottom left)

  • No7 Protect and Perfect Lip Care, £8.75 (Boots nationwide). ‘My lips stayed well-moisturised without need for any balm; they did look smoother and slightly plumper.’
  • ARK Plumping Lip Balm £24.50 (www.arkskincare.com). ‘This balm left my lips nourished, moisturised and smoothed. A cocooning remedy, perfect for dry, cracked and sensitive lips.’
  • Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Moisture Cream, £23 (Boots and department stores nationwide). ‘This classic cream with a SPF 30 has a pleasant texture and is a good lipstick base. It visibly improved my lip contour.’



What Restylane, Juvederm and Succeev are brand names for various forms of hyaluronic acid, a substance found naturally in the skin. The gel is injected using a pre-filled syringe with a very fine needle.  ‘This looks good straight away, and I would recommend avoiding any permanent lip filling injections’, says Mr Davison.

Patient says ‘My lips were numbed with an anaesthetic cream and as the gel contained lidocaine, the pain was bearable. The whole procedure lasted half an hour. My lips stayed swollen for four or five days. Now the result looks great, contours are redefined and the vertical lines around my mouth have disappeared.’


Best for Downturned mouth, asymmetric lips and lip lines.


Upside Immediate and natural-looking.


Downside Swelling for a few days. Hyaluronic acid is absorbed naturally over time so optimum effect lasts on average six months.

£££ From £300. See before and after of hyaluronic acid lip filler.



What Your own fat cells, harvested from your thighs or tummy using small syringes, are injected into your lips and lip contour, under a local or general anaesthetic, depending on which other parts of the face are liposculptured.  Fat injections, or the use of a small graft of dermal skin and fat, are excellent long-term solutions using your own tissue. They are often done as part of a facelift’, explains Mr Davison.


Best  for Substantial volumising. ‘Rather than permanent synthetic options, I prefer to consider fat transfer from the abdomen to the mouth and surrounding areas if a larger effect is required’, says Mr Bulstrode.


Upside A safe procedure for long-lasting and natural results.


Downside It may take a few weeks before the result settles. Some of the fat could be absorbed back into the body, requiring a repeat procedure.


£££ £2200 to £2800 as a day case.



What The Permalip implant  is made from soft, solid silicone and available in a variety of diameters and lengths to accommodate each person’s lip characteristics. The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes to perform, under local anaesthetic. Two small incisions are made in the corners of the mouth. The implant is then passed through a tunnel in the lip and centred. The process is repeated for the other lip and the incisions are closed using dissolvable stitches. Pain following the procedure is usually minimal and paracetamol should suffice to settle any discomfort.

Testimony ‘My lips bruised beautifully but as soon as the swelling went down, I could appreciate their very nice new shape. It is amazing how such a small change can have such a big effect on my whole face shape and boost my confidence so much.’

Best for Avoiding expensive top-ups with fillers. ‘In my practice I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients requesting Permalip lip implants instead of temporary fillers’, says Mr Ng.

Upside: Permalip cannot rupture or leak, it will not become hard, degrade or grow into the surrounding tissue over time. It’s easily removable should a person wish to return to their original lip appearance.

Downside: Moderate bruising and swelling that settles within a week. Antibiotics are given routinely to avoid risk of infection.

£££ From £1000 for one lip, £2000 for both.


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