“Bow and Arrow” technique for lip enhancement is a cosmetic treatment that uses filler injections in the lip area to enhance the size, balance and shape of the lips without producing the appearance of a duck or fish lip. This lip enhancement technique is performed on the Cupid's bow, or the “M” portion of the upper lip, to provide better contour as it grants a fuller lip with a gentle pout. Injections may also occur on the bottom lip. Therefore, this lip enhancement treatment is commonly referred to as Cupid’s bow lip augmentation, lip fillers and lip rejuvenation. The “Bow and Arrow” technique uses a blunt tip needle to gently deliver the dermal filler for a more sensual or prominent lip. Hyaluronic acid fillers are the most common type of lip enhancement filler since hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in the body and is less likely to cause a reaction or be rejected by the body.
A GOOD CANDIDATE for “Bow and Arrow” lip enhancement is:
The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for “Bow and Arrow” lip enhancement:
Lip fillers can be performed in the doctor’s office and only take a few moments per injection site. The procedure can be performed all at once or gradually over several appointments until the desired look is achieved. The lips can be very sensitive so the doctor will use a dental block to numb the entire lip for a more comfortable procedure. Most dermal fillers already come pre-mixed and contain lidocaine (which is also an anesthetic). The doctor will use a blunt needle to inject the filler into the natural lip border and body of the lip by using six entry points. The injections are performed as two at each corner of the upper lip, two at each corner of the lower lip and one at each point of the Cupid’s bow. During the injections, the doctor will maintain the balance of the lip appearance. This means the lower lip should always be fuller than the upper lip but not so full that it looks puffy. The Cupid’s bow, and columns that extend to the base of the nose, are also enhanced by the injections.
An alternative technique for lip augmentation with injectables involves fat grafting. With fat grafting, the surgeon will remove unwanted fat from another area of the patient’s body via liposuction. This can work well if someone already wants liposuction for body contouring but it can be an excessive procedure to simply enhance the lips. While considered safe, liposuction carries risks and the recovery time depends on the amount of fat being removed. The fat that is grafted into the lips can last longer than fillers but a portion of the fat will not survive the transfer.
Another alternative treatment for lip augmentation is implants. Implants provide permanent lip augmentation while fillers are temporary. Since implants are surgically placed, they carry a higher potential for risks and a longer recovery time. Implants can shift out of place, and do not age naturally, which can cause them to look abnormal. Furthermore, implants require surgical removal while fillers will naturally be absorbed by the body.
The cost depends on the amount of filler being injected, type of filler used, the doctor’s fees and the geographic location of the office. Dermal fillers come pre-mixed and are priced per syringe but usually only one syringe is needed for lip enhancement. The cost of lip injections can range from $400 to $900.
RECOVERY after “Bow and Arrow” lip injections is very minimal. Since this technique only requires six injections, there is less chance of bruising and swelling. Patients are advised to treat the area with a cold pack just after the procedure. Lipstick and balms should not be used after lip injections. Some patients experience redness and slight discomfort during the first 2-5 days. Swelling and discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and keeping the head elevated for the first few days of DOWNTIME at home. Eating soft foods such as yogurt, oatmeal and gelatin can also help minimize the trauma to the lips. Nevertheless, any side effects should subside within a week.
While the results of the “Bow and Arrow” technique for lip enhancement are immediate, it can take up to a week for the filler to settle in. Fat grafting results can take even longer since it can take up to 6 weeks for damaged fat cells to be naturally excreted from the body. Furthermore, redness and swelling can slightly mask the results during the first week. The length of the results depends on the individual patient since some patients absorb the filler faster than others. Filler material comes in various consistencies and certain fillers work better in particular areas. Fillers can last a long time in areas of less motion but the lips tend to be an area of high motion. Lip enhancement via fillers may last as little as 3 months or as long as a year. As the filler is absorbed, patients will need to have repeat injections to maintain the effects. Regular maintenance injections, performed before all the filler has absorbed, can help the filler build on itself and eventually require less filler material. Smoking can alter the results or cause the effects of the filler to not last as long. Therefore, patients should stop smoking at least a few weeks prior to filler injections and they should not smoke after injections.
The limitations of lip enhancement injections include:
The risks associated with Cupid’s bow lip augmentation include:
The “Bow and Arrow” technique for lip enhancement was designed to give patients the best lip augmentation possible with minimal risks of bruising, lumps and swelling. This minimally invasive procedure can be reversed, with a simple injection of an enzyme, if patients change their mind after seeing the results. For that reason, dermal fillers are the best option for a first-time lip augmentation patient. Patients should consult with a board-certified doctor to determine if they are an ideal candidate for the “Bow and Arrow” technique for lip enhancement.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA
Based on an exclusive interview with Karan Dhir, MD in Beverly Hills, CA