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4 Alternatives to Lip Fillers

You’re eager for fuller lips without painful lip injections or semi-permanent fillers. You also want to avoid potentially risky lip augmentation — like hyaluron pens, the needle-free hyaluronic acid (HA) injection devices that the FDA recently warned consumers against.

Good news: You have plenty of options, most of which don’t involve needles or cosmetic surgery. Read on to learn more about the top alternatives to lip fillers.

Top Alternatives to Lip Fillers

There is nothing wrong with using hyaluronic acid-based lip fillers for temporary lip plumping. This is the shortest-acting type of lip filler — the effects of the top HA lip filler brands and formulations generally last no more than 18 months — and has the most favorable risk profile too.

But maybe you’re not ready for fillers. That’s fine too. Many patients just like you find great results with these four alternatives.

Topical Lip Plumpers 

These topical, low-intervention lip products are not to be confused with hyaluron pens. Though they do contain hyaluronic acid, they’re more like lip gloss rollers. They deliver a light, even coat of hyaluronic acid (along with other active and inactive ingredients) when applied as directed.

Topical lip plumpers do require some dedication. The typical course of treatment spans two to four weeks and requires two to five applications per day. But the results are usually well worth the wait.

Lip Masks

A cosmetic face mask for your lips? Yes — one for your upper lip and another for your lower lip. Application is a snap, there’s no unpleasant “pins and needles” sensation, and users with thinner lips swear by their lip plumping effects.

Volume-Enhancing Lip Gloss and Balm

Most lip balms and glosses aren’t formulated to enhance volume or reduce lip lines. But these treatments aren’t just any lip balms and glosses. Some contain HA; others have distinctive color or gloss schemes that create the illusion of added volume without any direct intervention. 

Like other high-quality lip glosses and balms, they feel great (smooth lips, anyone?) and have skin care benefits for people with persistently dry or chapped lips.

Botox® Lip Flip

This is the only lip filler alternative that does involve needles — but no filler, guaranteed. 

The idea is simple. The provider injects a small amount of a neuromodulator (usually Botox) into the orbicularis muscle of the upper lip. This relaxes the muscle’s hold on the upper lip and coaxes it to “flip” outwards, creating a fuller-lipped appearance and accentuating lip curvature in people with distinctive Cupid’s bow lip shapes. 

The effects last a few months and deliver secondary benefits like reduced smoker’s lines (fine lines above the lip). The procedure works best in people with relatively large gaps between the lips and nose.

If You Do Choose Fillers…

If you do choose to go through with temporary or permanent lip fillers, take steps to reduce your risk of complications and side effects:

  • Work with a plastic surgeon, board-certified dermatologist, or other qualified medical professional who has completed dermal filler training
  • Use FDA-approved filler materials in the appropriate dose
  • Begin with temporary lip fillers, ideally HA fillers
  • Closely follow pre- and post-procedure instructions and ask questions of your provider as needed