Duck lips with fillers: bad technique or bad luck?

The dreaded duck lips are commonly associated with lip fillers but are they inevitable or purely a result of bad technique. At Face Doctors Clinic, we aim to produce natural results and so a duck lip is definitely not on our agenda.

To understand why duck lips occur we must understand what gives a lip its shape. An injector that just pumps the lip full of filler will cause the lip to expand like a balloon. In the process, the cupids bow will start to flatten and disappear leading to more of a sausage shape. A good injector will respect the whole of the upper lip including the cupids bow. This includes injections along the periphery of the cupids bow to sharpen the natural shape of the lip.

Another factor that leads to duck lips is the anterior projection of the lip or how much the lip sticks forward compared to the rest of the face. While this can be due to a poor pouting habit of the individual, often it is again because the anatomy of the lip has not been respected. When a balloon is filled it expands in all directions including up and down. Simply injecting into the lip in one spot will therefore push the lips forward. Better, more advanced techniques involved many small injections in the correct location. A lip flip involves a technique called towering, where the injections are lined in the vertical direction to support the structure of the lip like columns. This will hold the lip in the upwards direction rather than pushing it forward.

An experienced injector will also know when to stop injecting because too much of anything can be bad. The proportion with respect to the rest of the face and the ratio between the upper and bottom lip is critical. The right ratio of upper lip size to lower lip size varies from face shape to face shape and between races, however, generally in Caucasians the upper lip should be slightly smaller than the lower lip. In Asians and Africans, the ratio of upper to lower lips is closer to 1:1.

Lastly, the choice of dermal fillers used can be a critical factor in achieving a good outcome. The best choice will depend on what an injector is trying to achieve. Thicker fillers are better for definition, for example, around the lip or for structural support while thinner fillers are better for general volumizing. Generally, all commercially available brands in Australia offer a range of thick and thin fillers so it less dependent on the brand of filler and more dependent on the injector choosing the right product within a brand.

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