Lip fillers: can you plump your pout without a needle?

An enhanced lip size and shape is often the result of injectable fillers, but there are some needle-free alternatives

The thermage technique is a needle-free, laser-based therapy that can smooth, tighten and contour skin as well as reduce scarring in the lip area. Photo: Beverly Hills Sunset Surgery Centre International 
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Hardly gracing Google's worldwide search engines between the years 2004 and 2010 (when the data begins), the demand for information on lip fillers crept up during the first half of this decade and shot up for the second, shows Google Trends. The two biggest spikes in search? In May 2015 when Kylie Jenner admitted she had, in fact, had lip fillers, and again in August 2018, when she teased her vlog on the subject.

Yet the increase in interest isn’t merely theoretical. So high is the demand in the region that in October last year, Dubai granted a new licence that allows general practitioners to perform cosmetic procedures, while a report published by P&S Intelligence Market Research states: “The dermal fillers market in the UAE is expected to witness the fastest growth during the forecast period [2013-2023].”  

But not everyone wants to resort to needles in pursuit of a fuller pout – there's the pain, cost, risk, permanence and even overly exaggerated results to consider, after all. Last year, the search for "needle-free lip fillers" rose dramatically, but can it be done?

Do it yourself lip treatments

If you want to steer clear of anything reminiscent of a medical centre, fret not – there are some at-home lip-plumping solutions you can try. Think cosmetic buys that go beyond make-up artists' illusionary tricks administered with lipliner and highlighter.

Dr Tijion Esho from The Nova Clinic in Dubai and founder of The Esho Clinic in London, explains that topical solutions are the quickest and most affordable way to faux a full pout. "In many cases, the ingredients act to irritate the lip mucosa [the membrane lining the inside of the mouth] causing inflammation and therefore increasing lip size."

One to replace your lip gloss with is the Dior Addict Maximizer (Dh175). The results are subtle, the formula non-sticky and the stinging sensation minimal. We're not sure the advertised 29 per cent size increase is apparent, but the light-reflecting properties teamed with the volumising spheres of hyaluronic acid prove effective. Too Faced's Lip Injection Extreme (Dh145), is another great option, which supports blood flow to the lips for a pouty finish. These are all immediate and temporary alternatives, yet Dr Esho warns: "The repeated irritation has the potential to cause damage to the lips in the long term."

Naturally, the beauty tech market has responded to the growing demand, too. Introducing PMD Kiss: the gadget that uses pulsating vacuum technology to promptly create the appearance of a more voluptuous pout while boosting collagen production for fuller lips in the long term. From first-hand experience, this works well, at least in the short term. Within just a few minutes of moving the suction tip around the surface of the mouth, both the volume and natural shade of the lips are clearly enhanced. While we're not sure of lasting results just yet, we're definitely fans of this easy-to-use gadget.

It’s also the effects of time that can contribute to thinning lips. Just like applying your specialist eye cream alongside your daily moisturiser, a targeted solution is worth incorporating into your skincare routine. Opt for Sisley Eye and Lip Contour Cream (Dh893) that works by protecting against dehydration, wrinkles and fine lines.

Lip fillers from the experts

These DIY tips aside, seeking the help of professionals doesn’t have to mean resorting to needles. In fact, creating the illusion of a fuller pout can start with a simple trip to the spa.

Deborah Micouris, director of Away Spa at W Dubai, talks us through the Dh99 treatment that fits the bill. After cleansing the lip area, the therapist will apply the Knesko Diamond Lip Mask, which is infused with diamond powder, marine collagen and rose essential oil alongside other nutrients. The formula penetrates the surface area to hydrate, plump and smooth the skin. While short-lived, the instant effect is nonetheless satisfying.

The repeated irritation has the potential to cause damage to the lips in the long term.

On the topic of alternatives to fillers, Dr Andrew Ordon of Dubai’s Beverly Hills Sunset Surgery Centre International, reveals that the thermage technique (from Dh2,000) was one of the most popular non-invasive options in 2019. “This is a radiofrequency therapy that can smooth, tighten and contour skin as well as reduce scarring. There are no needles and no cutting or surgery involved – instead, it’s laser-based,” he says. Designed to rejuvenate lips that might appear deflated, the treatment lasts between 30 and 90 minutes with immediate effects.

While Esho recommends his threading treatment – wherein medical threads composed of a biocompatible synthetic substance are placed into the lip via a cannula to stimulate collagen, the threads breaking down over time – it's currently only available in the UK, although plans are in motion to bring it to the region. A cannula has a blunt tip that is less likely to lead to bruising and offers a smoother delivery of the filler due to its lengthier, more flexible design.

Esho also offers advice on what not to do. "No-needle lip fillers [that use pressurised pens] is a treatment I don't recommend and have seen multiple problems with. These devices use pressurised air to deliver dermal fillers or hyaluronic acid into the lips. Due to the size of the molecules, this is very hard, and the product often remains very superficial on the lips leading to the formation of lumps."

The most important thing? To make sure you’re turning to qualified professionals with a full consultation before any procedure is carried out.