March 2, 2023

Butterfly Lips Lip TapingThe newest trend to hit the facial aesthetic sector is ‘lip taping’, or ‘strip lips, for ‘butterfly lips’. The taping is performed as part of a lip filler or lip augmentation procedure and is all over TikTok with celebrity names including Lauren Goodger and Katie Price showing off their lips.

In this blog, Dr Tim Pearce discusses the new trend. He shares his opinions on its usefulness to help you decide whether you should offer it to your patients.

Do you feel anxious about causing complications? Many clinicians feel so overwhelmed with the thought of causing a vascular occlusion that it stops them growing their aesthetics business. Dr Tim is currently hosting a webinar series to help you overcome your fear of complications so that you can uplevel your knowledge, and increase your CPD-certified learning to build a successful aesthetics business. Sign up here >>

What is lip taping?

Dr Tim Pearce Aesthetics eLearningThe practice of lip taping is where aesthetic practitioners take a Steri-Strip or another form of tape and place it structurally around the lip. Usually, the aim is to evert the lip, alongside laying strips of tape around areas where a straight line is desired, with the visual implication that you are creating external rotation and definition along the lip. This is then held in place for a certain amount of time.

Does lip taping prevent lip filler migration?

Typically, with the presentation of migration of filler in the lip, product has been injected into an area where it can easily defuse. For example, if injected directly into the vermillion border where the muscle inserts into the border, it can easily spill over either side of the insertion point because filler is not being delivered into one compartment, but on the border between two compartments. If you were to place tape on top of the lip after such placement and leave it there for 24 hours, Dr Tim believes that it would have very little impact on the chances of the product spreading over time, although, it may delay it a little bit.

The implication of this technique and claim is based on tissue integration; if you put filler in a place and hold it in that place, until it ‘sets’, will it stay there for longer? If we consider this claim, we do not know how long it takes most fillers to ‘set’ and we also do not know if it does ‘set’ as such, or exactly how strong that ‘set’ would be, we know it is not concrete! Therefore, the idea that you could hold it in a particular position, and it would be more likely to stay in that position could be true if it is held well, but how long it will stay there is completely unknown.

Thinking about tissue integration, data shows a wide variation between dermal filler products – some integrate to some degree, and some integrate much less. We also understand this from data on the extrusion of fillers. For example, when removing a lump of product as a complication of lip filler treatment; if you can easily squeeze or extrude the product through a hole made by a 23G needle, you are almost certainly dealing with a product that is not integrated into the tissue.

This provides contradictory evidence for the claim of the taping technique being able to prevent migration. If we assume no tissue integration, or almost none, there is absolutely no point in taping the lips; it might look good for a short time after you remove it, but the product will still settle to a neutral position. The critical factor is where you injected the product, namely, into the right compartment, and not what you did with the tape, says Dr Tim.

Even if there is some tissue integration, we still do not know how strong the structure will ‘set’, plus it is unlikely that fillers work that way to stay strong enough after being held with tape for 24 hours. Based on his experience with hyaluronic acid gels, Dr Tim suspects that patients may see a result that lasts for 24-48 hours but fades rapidly.

Where did the concept of lip taping come from?

In essence, this idea is not new, when we consider similar techniques such as using dental floss for the keyhole lip technique that Dr Tim has previously explained.

The idea being that you can inject filler product and hold it in place with an aid such as dental floss or tape and it will not ‘flow’ beyond those physical boundaries. Superficially, this seems to make common sense, but it shows a misunderstanding of how the products work, assuming haphazard flow within tissue, with no anatomical boundaries in place, rather like plasticine that can be shaped.

However, with a greater understanding of anatomy, we can note that filler flow tends to be restrained within compartments and is dependent on injection depth and positioning; it can be moulded within the area of placement and does not require floss or tape to hold it to shape within one compartment or another, as implied by images communicated to patients on Instagram.

Are there any safety concerns with lip taping?

Based on observed images, there is not a lot of pressure being placed on the lips from the tape, thus it should not be a particular safety concern. However, if they were taped tightly enough, it could restrict blood supply, particularly if it were taped backwards with a bend in the skin; pressure for a long period of time on tissue is never good.

Another potential issue could occur if the lip were taped outwards to evert the lip. This would rotate the wet-dry border outwards and expose the internal mucosa of the mouth to the elements which will be irritating for the patient because the oral mucosa will dry, requiring constant licking of lips or Vaseline application whilst the tape is in place, posing a risk to the integrity of this tissue.

Another, more pressing hazard with covering the lip in tape, having just injected lip filler, is the chance of misdiagnosis of complications. Patients may be less likely to report or even see a tissue discoloration, and may attribute any pain to the taping, missing the presence of a vascular occlusion.

Final thoughts on lip taping

Dr Tim concludes that he will not be taping up any of his lip filler patients anytime soon. He sees the biggest risk being that it creates a false story, albeit compelling and visually appealing, for the so-called butterfly lips, but nobody sees how these patients faired three months down the line – failures do not make it to Instagram.

Be very clear with your patients if you choose to try this lip taping technique and you are not sure of its merits, because if you are very enthusiastic about it and claim it is going to be amazing, only for them to discover three months later that it is not, you will have lost the most important asset in your clinic, trust with your patients.

If you have any experience trying lip taping techniques or creating butterfly lips, Dr Tim always loves to hear from his followers, so why not drop him a comment on social media. You can find Dr Tim Pearce on Instagram.

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Aesthetics Mastery Show

TikTok Lip Taping

In this episode, Dr Tim addresses the Tiktok Lip Taping trend; sharing his thoughts on the treatment, so you can make a decision on whether you should offer it to your patients

The show has had over 6,000 views and over 40 comments in just 2 weeks, including:

Shevy said:

“Dr. Tim tells it like it is!!!”

ranita2007 added:

“The best mentor ever”

ACR queried:

“Have you spoken to the lady who founded this technique? She trained and researched this for many years. You could ask her version of why she thinks this works. I don’t offer this technique and wouldn’t but it would be good to have her version to see where she justifies it.”

To which Tim replied:

“Only after I shared these thoughts- I will be interviewing her next week though! I will share as a youtube show- it should be interesting and I do like to hear from people who have real experience rather than just trying it now.”

Read more and join in the debate on our YouTube channel.


Lip Filler eLearning Courses

If you want to increase your skills in lip treatment design or boost your confidence by learning how to handle complications, Dr Tim Pearce offers a range of comprehensive courses that are highly rated by our delegates:

In addition, browse our FREE downloadable resources on complications.

Dr Tim Pearce eLearning

Dr Tim Pearce MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP founded his eLearning concept in 2016 in order to provide readily accessible BOTOX® and dermal filler online courses for fellow Medical Aesthetics practitioners. His objective was to raise standards within the industry – a principle which remains just as relevant today.

Our exclusive video-led courses are designed to build confidence, knowledge and technique at every stage, working from foundation level to advanced treatments and management of complications.

Thousands of delegates have benefited from the courses and we’re highly rated on Trustpilot. For more information or to discuss which course is right for you, please get in touch with our friendly team.

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