Wel­come to the age of the ‘lip job’, where plump­ing your pout with fillers is po­ten­tially as main­stream as teeth whiten­ing. But how did we get here? Joely Walker in­ves­ti­gates

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What­ever you think about lip fillers, this might change your mind

Some trends en­ter the beauty zeit­geist overnight, in­fil­trat­ing our so­cial me­dia feeds for a short while be­fore re­turn­ing to obliv­ion. Then there are the main­stays – those that slice through the buzz and carve out their place as a decade-defining beauty move­ment. Think Nineties over-plucked brows, Noughties D-cup boob jobs and, now, our fixation with lip fillers.

But you knew that al­ready. You’re liv­ing in the age of the ‘lip job’, with the num­ber of Google searches for lip fillers in the UK 10 times higher than the fig­ure from 2012 and lip aug­men­ta­tion prov­ing the most pop­u­lar non­sur­gi­cal cos­metic treat­ment of 2016, ac­cord­ing to what­

But how did fillers move on from their ‘trout pout’ rep­u­ta­tion to the mod­ern work­ing woman’s ‘tweak­ment’ of choice? These days, it seems plump­ing one’s lips with a sy­ringe full of filler is as rou­tine as teeth whiten­ing and as easy to fit into your lunch break as a shel­lac man­i­cure. Scroll through In­sta­gram and you’d be for­given for think­ing that our ob­ses­sion with pout­ing per­fec­tion is a re­cent phe­nom­e­non. In fact, it su­per­sedes the mil­len­nial era, with the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Plas­tic Sur­geons’ 2016 report high­light­ing an in­crease of 50% in lip aug­men­ta­tions for 18 to 55-plus-year-olds be­tween 2000 to 2016.

An­gelina Jolie cer­tainly piqued our in­ter­est (and envy) for the nat­u­rally plump lip in 1999 with the re­lease of Girl, In­ter­rupted, but it was 16 years later that one 17-year-old re­al­ity-TV star ce­mented the world’s bur­geon­ing ob­ses­sion with aug­men­ta­tion. In May 2015, a pre­view episode of Keep­ing Up With The Kar­dashi­ans aired, in which

Khloé Kar­dashian asked her youngest sis­ter, Kylie Jen­ner (aged 17 at the time), about her en­hanced lips. As a re­sult, Google searches for lip fillers peaked glob­ally, and one Lon­don clinic re­ported a 70% rise in en­quiries over the next 24 hours.

Jen­ner had pre­vi­ously sworn her lips were sim­ply a make-up trick. But why? ‘I’m just not ready to talk to re­porters about my lips yet,’ she said. ‘Peo­ple are so quick to judge me on ev­ery­thing.’ She makes a valid point: our so­cial me­dia cul­ture and the anonymity it of­fers means we’re unashamedly quick to judge, call out or com­ment if some­one – par­tic­u­larly an­other woman – has had ‘work done’. In­deed, in this in­stance we did, but what was ar­guably more in­ter­est­ing was the ad­mi­ra­tion of those wish­ing to emu­late the look; ad­mi­ra­tion that helped Jen­ner build an em­pire – she launched her de­but line of Lip Kits that same Au­gust, which sold out and sub­se­quently sparked a thou­sand im­i­ta­tions. No longer fazed by the judge­ment, Jen­ner’s ven­ture into cos­met­ics helped make her the youngest ever per­son to fea­ture on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

Lead­ing cos­metic doc­tor (and go-to for the beauty in­dus­try) Dr Frances Prenna Jones no­ticed a surge in de­mand for lip fillers in her clinic around a sim­i­lar time, with a steady rise ever since. ‘Women of all ages en­ter my clinic for cos­metic lip treat­ments; half want a “nat­u­ral” aes­thetic, while the other half still ask for a “Kylie Jen­ner” look.’ Does she find this sur­pris­ing, con­sid­er­ing her clien­tele is made up of such a broad range of work­ing women? ‘I’m con­tin­u­ally blown away by the sheer vol­ume of women ask­ing for this; Kylie Jen­ner’s in­flu­ence is un­de­ni­able.’

Sadly, the quest for lip per­fec­tion isn’t al­ways so straight­for­ward, with lack of reg­u­la­tion leav­ing women at risk of botch jobs. ‘These treat­ments are now very straight­for­ward, and dan­ger­ous side ef­fects are ex­tremely rare,’ Dr Prenna Jones ex­plains, ‘but should an is­sue such as ana­phy­laxis, oc­clu­sion of blood ves­sels, al­ler­gic re­ac­tions or ex­treme swelling oc­cur, I per­son­ally don’t believe any­one other than a doc­tor, who is gov­erned by strict rules and reg­u­la­tions, would be best suited to deal­ing with and rec­ti­fy­ing such is­sues.’ Save spas and beauty sa­lons for fa­cials – never (ever, ever) fillers – and choose your doc­tor wisely. The one ques­tion Dr Prenna Jones rec­om­mends ask­ing your prac­ti­tioner? ‘How many times have you done this be­fore?’

The good news: where there’s de­mand, there’s sup­ply. Cue a wave of in­no­va­tive prod­ucts and treat­ments ap­pear­ing in clin­ics over the past year. One such treat­ment is the Lip Smoothie, spear­headed by med­i­cal doc­tor and spe­cial­ist der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Stefanie Wil­liams of Eudelo Lon­don. It in­volves tak­ing a small amount of the pa­tient’s blood and plac­ing it in a cen­trifuge ex­trac­tor to pro­duce a platelet-rich plasma (or PRP). Post­de­vel­op­ment, it’s mixed with hyaluronic acid be­fore be­ing in­jected into lips. The re­sult? Aside from in­stant full­ness, it stim­u­lates tis­sue re­gen­er­a­tion by kick­ing your stem cells into gear, which pre­vents loss of plump­ness down the line.

For those con­cerned with out­line as much as size, Dr Ti­jion Esho of The ESHO Clinic has pi­o­neered the Cupid’s Bow Lift, whereby mi­cro threads are passed through the philtrum (the ver­ti­cal groove in the mid­dle area of the up­per lip) for a ‘sub­tle, nat­u­ral-look­ing rest­ing pout’. If soft­ness and im­proved tex­ture are your end game, there’s Vol­bella – a der­mal filler treat­ment by Dr Bernard Hayot, which can be in­jected su­per­fi­cially un­der the mu­cosa mem­brane to smooth out de­hy­drated-look­ing lips with­out plump­ing. More in­trigu­ing still, if in­jected into lips for full­ness, it dou­bles up as a shine-booster due to its higher con­cen­tra­tion of hyaluronic acid, which boosts hy­dra­tion of the der­mis (the deep liv­ing tis­sue be­neath the skin’s

‘Our so­cial me­dia cul­ture and the cer­tain anonymity it of­fers means we’re unashamedly quick to judge’

Pho­to­graph by HARRI PECCINOTTI


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