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Image of lips representing lip fillers

Lip fillers – needles vs cannula

Written by
Lucy Foster

While some facial trends come and go (microblading vs the return of the 90s brow), it seems certain that having full lips is here to stay. In fact, voluminous lips are so popular that lip augmentation is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the world today.

But having full lips is only one reason to start thinking about securing an appointment. Filler can also be used to reduce fine lines around the mouth, correct lip asymmetry and define shape. And there is more than one way to get your preferred shape and size. You can choose to have filler via hypodermic needle or aesthetic cannula. And it doesn’t need to be just filler either – new Botox treatments can also give the appearance of a fuller mouth.

But which one is better? Well, as with many things, there is no right answer. It’s about personal preference and ultimately what method is best suited to what you want to achieve.

Hypodermic needle

This is the most traditional method of filler application and it’s as it sounds: a hypodermic needle is injected into the skin and filler is squeezed into the lip. It’s very straightforward with some small risk of bruising. You may also want to consider the comfort of having several injection sites (on average around 16 to 20 per treatment) in your lips. The effect lasts for 12 to 18 months, and prices start at SR1,500.

Best for: very precise application; patients who don’t mind potential bruising or needles.

Aesthetic cannula

A cannula, unlike a needle, has a blunt tip. A hole does need to be made at either end of each lip – this is created by a small-bore needle – but then a cannula can be inserted below the skin. The blunt tip means that it can just push past blood vessels, causing less trauma and less bruising to the delicate lip tissue. And as a cannula is longer and more flexible it can also deliver filler in a smoother, more continuous fashion. Patients who have filler applied by this method can often minimise recovery time and some report not needing any at all, although it is recommended you take things easy for 48 hours. However, the cannula is not as precise as a needle and while it can be skilfully handled in small areas such as the lips, some doctors still prefer the control a needle gives. Costs start at SR1,500 and results last for a year and beyond.

Best for: patients who aren’t keen on needles; minimal downtime due to less bruising and swelling.

Botox lip flip

This procedure doesn’t involve filler but gives the effect of a much fuller top lip. Your practitioner will inject tiny amounts of Botox into muscles around the corners of your lips (the orbicularis oris muscle to be precise) relaxing the area and allowing your top lip to flip up, hence the name. It gives your mouth a poutier look and when you smile, can prevent the top lip from thinning out, lessens a gummy smile, and prevents too many teeth showing. Unlike filler, it doesn’t add volume but helpfully, it can be used alongside filler if that’s the look you’re after. As with all Botox treatments, the results start to show after five days. You might feel sore and see slight bruising for a couple days after – but the results should be noticeable for three to four months before you’ll need to book yourself in for a top up. It is the most cost-effective of the three, starting at around SR550 depending on how much Botox is used per treatment.

Best for: a subtle change; patients who don’t want added volume.

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