They're the new fashion accessory- lush lips, forming the perfect pout. Angelina Jolie has been touted in many magazines and top 10 lists as the sexiest women in the world and many credit her large, bee-stung lips.

In fact, scientists have determined that large, full lips make the person more attractive to the opposite sex. A plump pout is considered to be a sign of youth and an icon of sensuality. This has celebrities and average folk alike clamouring for a full, luscious pucker and many are taking measures into their own hands with plastic surgery.

Lip Injections

One of the most popular ways to achieve fuller lips is to actually fill the lips with an injectable fluid. There is a huge list of materials that you can put in your lips including fat (from other parts of your body) and hylaform, which is actually made up of skin and tissue extracted from a cadaver (translation: a dead body).

Collagen is one of the most popular injectable fillers. Collagen is a naturally occurring fibrous protein that is found in both humans and animals. It provides structural support for bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Essentially, it is the glue that holds your body's connective tissue together.

The collagen used in lip injections is from cow skin and called bovine collagen. Although it is purified, about 3% of the population is allergic to collagen, so testing needs to be carried out before it is used in lip injections.

Did You Know?
There are 28 different forms of collagen Collagen is injected into the lip with small needles. Because the body slowly absorbs the collagen, the results generally last between one and three months. Repeat treatments are usually required to maintain the effect over time.

"The amount of people who come in looking for larger, fuller lips has definitely increased over the past few years," notes Heidi Crowe, with DermaLaser in Vancouver. DermaLaser uses synthetic, clear gel fillers Perlane and Restylane.

Did You Know?
Like fingerprints, no 2 lip impressions are precisely alike. The main component in these fillers is hyaluronic acid, a material that occurs naturally in the body's joints. Hyaluronic acid is very hydrophilic (meaning that it loves water) causing a swelling pressure and can help increase volume (aka fuller lips). Results of these injections are reported to last approximately twice as long as collagen.

Heidi credits the popularity of beautiful pouty-lipped celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner, and Scarlett Johanssen for the desire for larger lips. She says clients often feel their own lips are too thin and unproportional and that client's feedback indicates that plumper lips brings them more confidence.

Lip Implants

Another option for those who choose to plump their lips with surgery is lip implants. One material commonly used for implants is Gore-Tex. Does that sound familiar? It's because you may have a Gore-Tex jacket!

Gore-Tex is a cross between cloth and rubber and is used to make high-quality raincoats and other breathable, water-resistant outdoor gear. Some surgeons claim that the advantage of Gore-Tex implants is that they will never shrink and will always maintain its size.

Did You Know?
Gore-Tex fabric is made up of a thin, porous fluoropolymer membrane that has about 9 billion pores per square inch. Each pore is approximately 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet! There are some potential complications that can come with lip injections and implants. They include skin infection, blistering, redness, hardening or an asymmetrical result.

But the most visible complication that may accompany lip augmentation has been called "trout pout". Wikipedia defines "trout pout" as a slang term for swollen over-sized lips, due to collagen injections. Charmingly, the reference to trout comes from the large lips found on most dead fish.

Lip Glosses to Lipsticks

For those who aren't interested in taking the surgical route, a market has sprung up with lip glosses, lipsticks, and serums that claim to achieve larger, fuller lips with a simple application. Many of these products work by irritating the skin, making it redden and swell. Cinnamon, peppermint, cayenne pepper and caffeine are among the ingredients that do this.

Some advertise the key ingredient as Niacin, a B vitamin that dilates the blood vessels, causing mild inflammation. These products may sting or burn when you put them on. The desire to achieve pumped up lips without visiting a plastic surgeon has made these products extremely popular. In fact, multi-national cosmetics company, Sephora, has ranked lip plumping gloss "Lipfusion" as one of its best sellers.

Did You Know?
Inflammation is an immune response by your body to infection or irritation and can lead to redness, heat, swelling and pain. Not everyone believes in these lip plumpers actually make your pout puffier. Emily Dougherty, the beauty and fitness director of Elle Magazine says, "Lip plumpers haven't proven to me that they work any better than lip gloss and a pencil or pinching your lips to make them fuller."

So for those who are looking to follow the puffy lip trend, there are many options and different techniques. But to avoid the scary-looking "trout pout," it may just be better to learn to love the lips you've got and wait for the next big "look" to come along.


For examples of celebrity lip-plumping gone wrong...

More information on lip augmentation...

More information on trout pout...


All About Lip Augmentation- A Lip Augmentation Patient Education & Support Network.

Crowe, Heidi. Personal Interview. 17 March 2006.

Trout Pout Definition

Injectable Basic Info

Derma Laser, Vancouver.

NY Times Article, "Kiss My Puffy Lips"

Melissa lives in North Vancouver, B.C. She is in her second and final year at the British Columbia Institute of Technology where she is studying Broadcast Journalism. Her dream job is to be a reporter for the Discovery Channel.


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