IT'S the cosmetic procedure on everyone's lips.
But there are a few things you need to know before taking the plunge and opting for cosmetic lip augmentation - aka, plumping your pout.
Nine out of ten aesthetic treatments in the UK are non-surgical, with Botox and filler injections becoming increasingly popular, especially among women in their late 20s and early 30s.
And if you're one of the many Brits tempted to give it a try, here's everything you need to know:
Do your research - and remember, it's an art form:
It's really important to do your research before anything else. I always find it strange when people put more effort into researching where to go for dinner than they do someone putting a needle in their face. These days anyone can go on a six-hour course and claim to be an expert in lip augmentation, but the reality is it takes an enormous amount of skill and artistry to deliver a natural look while carrying out a safe and comfortable procedure. Ensure that practitioners are suitably qualified and look for the qualification FRCS (Plast) or equivalent, and that they are on the GMC specialist register for plastic surgery. It's also important that procedures are carried out in appropriate environment and you aren't pressured into anything. After all, no procedure is 100 per cent risk free. A good practitioner will listen to your concerns and advise what's right for you.
Be clear about what you want:
The best doctors will work with the facial features you have, not try to give you someone else's. I always advise that less is more, and if you want a more voluminous look then it should be built up gradually over time. What you should be aiming for is to keep everything in proportion. Recent studies have show that to have the most aesthetically pleasing lips the bottom lip should be around 40 per cent larger than the top lip. That ratio will give you a really nice and natural look, as opposed to the infamous 'trout pout'.
Costs vary, but be wary if it looks TOO cheap:
The most common lip fillers are made from naturally occurring hyaluronic acid gel. The gel is typically injected into the border of the lips to define the lip line, or injected into the body of the lip to create a fuller pout or more even symmetry. I use either 'Restylane' or 'Juvederm', which involves a number of small injections to the lip to add volume. The treatment costs around £400 - you should generally be very wary if it is offered for anything less than around £200. I have heard of all sorts of different discounts being offered, including beauty salons and mobile therapists offering half price fillers if people are willing to 'share a syringe' with a friend. The general advice is to make sure you are comfortable with the clinic and practitioner. If anything is starting to ring alarm bells, don't take the risk.
You might face a two-day kissing ban!
Lips are a sensitive area of the face and while it's not particularly painful, having lip fillers can sometimes be a little uncomfortable. I use either a number cream or a numbing injection, depending on the patient, to ease any pain. It generally feels like nothing more than a pinch. Results will be instant but there will also be some swelling, which generally lasts for 24 to 48 hours. In this time it's advised you should avoid hot drinks, alcohol and kissing. You should also steer clear of anything that will increase blood flow to your face including strenuous exercise.
Sadly, fillers don't last forever:
Some people express concern that if they ever stop having fillers their lips will look 'deflated'. This isn't the case. The hydraulic acid will be absorbed into the system slowly, gradually reducing the appearance of the fillers over time. And remember - if done properly, fillers can make subtle, natural changes to keep someone looking and feeling great.