What lip fillers have to do with resolving the most neglected sign of ageing

By Kristen Juliet Soh
20 April, 2022

Loss of volume and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles are common signs we see when we age. But here’s one area we may neglect in our anti-ageing routine: our lips.

Did you know that besides having more wrinkles around our lip contour, our lips also become thinner as we get older?

This sounds like bad news, we know. But thankfully, understanding the cause of this loss of volume and having more aesthetic medical options now, we can still hold on to a full pout for more years than we expect.

To learn more about lip volume loss and lip fillers, Daily Vanity spoke to Dr. Lam Bee Lan, Medical Director of Ageless Medical in Singapore, who has been working with many patients for this treatment.

How our lips change as we age

According to Dr. Lam, skin elasticity is reduced as we lose collagen over the years. “With less collagen, the skin becomes thinner and weaker,” she says.

“Hyaluronic acid (HA), a form of sugar molecule that binds a large amount of water, also depletes as we age. HA helps to keep our skin and lips plump and hydrated and with less HA, our skin becomes dry and loses radiance.”

Dr. Lam shared a research done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which compares the lips of people aged 20 to 30 and 65 and 80, to understand the changes that our lips go through as we age.

From the results, “the older group showed 20% lengthening in the upper lips (area below the nose and actual upper lip), upper lip volume was 40% less and 25% thinner lip.”

No matter how full your lips are at 20, they will lose volume with time. And if you are born with naturally thin lips, the ageing effects can be even more obvious.

What you can do to keep your lips looking youthful, starting now

Genetics plays a strong role in preventing lip volume loss, which is why it isn’t easy. You can, however, cut down on activities that can speed up the process.

lip balm

Dr Lam advises us to stay away from the sun, quit smoking, and manage our stress levels. “Keeping hydrated is also essential for a plumper pout,” she adds. “There are lip balms and masks out there that can help to maintain the youthfulness of the lips.”

Thanks to trends like “Instagram face” and celebrities like Kylie Jenner, plump lips are still the beauty look du jour. There’s something about defined, luscious lips that manages to pull an entire look together.

“If you would like to improve the shape of your lips, you may want to consider lip enhancement treatments such as Restylane fillers for plumper and smoother lips,” Dr Lam suggests.

What is a lip filler?

A type of dermal filler, lip fillers are injections that add volume to your lips. One of the most popular minimally-invasive treatments, dermal fillers come in a wide variety of options, which allow doctors to customise every patient’s lip filler treatment with specific concerns in mind.

lip fillers

“Different lip fillers can achieve different goals,” Dr Lam shares. “Restylane® Kysse can be used to hydrate and soften lines on the lips for a smoother appearance, whereas Restylane® with Lidocaine can be used to correct asymmetry and add more volume or contour, as it is firmer.”

In fact, one of the most common reasons why people opt for lip fillers is to correct lip asymmetries, so that the upper and lower lips appear proportionate.

“Many older patients seek lip filler treatments to hydrate and reduce fine lines on lips and mouth area,” she discloses. “Lastly, most patients get lip fillers to define lip shape and cupid’s bow, and to add volume for fuller and plumper lips.”

How to achieve a natural-looking effect with lip fillers

We know what you’re thinking; what if you end up looking like a Bratz doll after a lip filler appointment? Well, there’s actually a way to prevent this.

“It is, therefore, essential to consult a trained and experienced doctor with enough knowledge to select suitable fillers for the lips and inject the right amount of filler at the correct plane and depth, so that it is in harmony with the rest of the face,” Dr Lam advises.

This is also crucial to avoid any complications during the procedure.

Are lip filler treatments the same for people of different age ranges?


In short, no. Dr Lam tells us that patients in their 20s may have “genetic imperfections, such as asymmetry, thin lips, a gummy smile, or have a perpetual sad expression.” At this age, it’s all about enhancing the lips to make them look fuller and balanced, so they appear proportionate to the rest of the face.

Patients in their 30s may experience thinning and drying of the lips. “Lip wrinkles caused by sun exposure and increased muscle activity from facial expressions may start to appear,” she explains. “Lip fillers can be done to help smoothen and create fullness of the lip.”

“As for patients in their 40s to 50s, restoration of the overall facial structure is needed as the area around the lips, such as the nasolabial folds, also change,” she continues. “There is also a longer distance between the nose and the upper lip. Restoring the natural shape and volume of the lips can be done with lip fillers and botulinum toxins.”

Who would be an unsuitable candidate for lip fillers?

lip fillers options

“Patients who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a known allergy to hyaluronic acid fillers are unsuitable for lip fillers,” Dr Lam says. This is why it’s important to discuss your medical history with your doctor, “including medicines, past and present allergies, and medical conditions.”

“Make sure to also inform your doctor of any previous surgical and non-surgical aesthetic treatments that you have undergone,” she asserts.

What to do before a lip filler procedure

Before your procedure, you’ll have to arrange for a consultation with your doctor. You are free to bring visual references for your doctor, but Dr Lam says that your goal should be to achieve a lip shape and size that’s proportionate to the rest of your facial features “and not to aim for a specific celebrity’s lip feature.”

When considering the size of your lips, it’s important to picture how you’ll look, just like getting a new haircut. Even if you’ve brought in a photograph of a celebrity as a reference, your hairstylist might suggest otherwise based on several factors, such as your hair texture, volume, length, or face shape.

You may want your lips to look like Scarlett Johansson’s, but it might not be achievable because your face shape and features are unique.

Before your lip filler treatment, Dr Lam says the only thing that should make you refrain from doing a lip filler would be if you have a cold sore infection.

What happens during a lip filler procedure

loss of lip volume

During a lip filler procedure, your doctor will apply a topical anaesthetic to your lips to numb your lips, so you won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the process.

Your doctor will then use a thin needle or cannula to inject lip filler into the treatment areas, which can include the Cupid’s bow, corners of your mouth, and the edges of your lips.

You won’t feel any pain during the procedure, but you may feel a slight pinching sensation. The whole procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Downtime & side effects of lip fillers

“Some redness, swelling, bruising, or tenderness is normal at the treatment site,” Dr Lam assures. “These effects should disappear within one week after the treatment.”

Aftercare for lip fillers

To reduce the redness and swelling as much as possible after your treatment, Dr Lam suggests avoiding immediate makeup application on the treatment area. You should also refrain from alcohol within 24 hours of the treatment, avoid beverages that are too hot or too cold, and steer clear of water activities for a few days as there are needle marks.

She says that lip fillers can last up to a year as well, depending on the individual. And in terms of touch-ups, “patients should have a maintenance treatment once a year.”

If you would like to have a more significant, pronounced result after your lips have healed, Dr Lam says that topping up is possible too after a review two weeks after the treatment.

Dr Lam Bee Lan is the Medical Director of Ageless Medical, which is located at 501 Orchard Road, Wheelock Place, #04-10, Singapore 238880.