Full, plumped-up lips have undoubtably been the pervasive aesthetic in the last decades, with celebrities and influencers making a case for reshaping, volumizing and enhancing one’s pout. As a result, lip-enhancement treatments skyrocketed with “lip filler” becoming the noninvasive treatment du jour for many—men and women alike.
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However, the last year brought us mask mandates in most public spaces, so one would think that lip treatments would have seen a dip in popularity. After all, why touch your lips if no one is going to see them anyway?
Surprisingly, most of the lip experts we spoke to said they saw a jump in lip procedures, even more than before the pandemic. “Although it might feel a little counterintuitive—you would think that with more masks, people would care less about their lips—I found that people cared more, specially because they really wanted lips to look amazing once they had those brief instances where they could take their masks off,” says Delray Beach, FL facial plastic surgeon Miguel Mascaró, MD , who specializes in Lip Lift procedures.
The Lipstick Effect
New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD believes the increase was due in part to the “lipstick effect.” “It’s the theory that when facing an economic crisis, or in this case a pandemic, consumers will be more willing to buy less costly luxury goods,” she explains. “Instead of buying expensive fur coats, for example, people will buy expensive lipstick. The underlying assumption is that consumers will buy luxury goods even if there is a crisis. I personally think that when there is a crisis and women are feeling sad and down in order to cheer themselves up, they want to look beautiful and sexy— hence expensive lipstick, which nowadays is a lip filler to get plumper, luscious, sexy lips.”
According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, in the last year the demand for nonsurgical treatments decreased, with filler down by 8 percent. However, the doctors we spoke to said from what they saw, the desire for a more plumped-up lip look didn’t waiver. “We have definitely seen an incredible uptick in all injectable procedures and especially lip enhancements,” adds New York oculoplastic surgeon Irene Gladstein, MD. “The masks didn’t slow down lip procedures—they actually allowed patients to go unnoticed during recovery and an easy way cover up for the ‘swollen’ phase.”
More Options to Choose From
In addition to filler, doctors have expanded their tool kits for the type of lip-augmentation procedures they’re able to offer. Over the course of the last year, Lip Flip treatments done with neurotoxin instead of dermal filler have become more popular. “While volumizing and reshaping the lips with filler is still a leader, we have seen an increase in requests for adding neurotoxin to much-loved lip enhancement,” says Dr. Gladstein.
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“Filler is still the most common lip enhancing treatment at my practice,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD. “However, the numbers for filler augmentation had been relatively flat. Lip lifts are overall less common than filler treatments, but they are rapidly gaining ground. Both, younger patients in their 20s and 30s, to older demographics over 50 are inquiring about this procedure in in much increasing numbers comparing to last year.”
“Lip Flips using neurotoxin are definitely trending more in my practice,” adds Dr. Peredo. “I use some neurotoxin when appropriate as well, but lip filler by far remains the most popular lip procedure I perform. I also see an ongoing trend of younger and younger patients having their lips done.”
With more younger patients opting for lip enhancement, we will see how the numbers net out for next year, but statistics aside, our doctors believe lips will remain in the forefront. “I may be biased because I do so many of them,” says Dr. Mascaro, “but around 70-percent of my practice revolves around some form of lip enhancement and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon, whether we are wearing masks or not.”
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