5 Alternatives to Lip Fillers: How to Get Fuller Lips

By Emily M.| Last updated on February 27, 2023
alternatives to lip fillers
⏱️ 7 min read

Lip fillers are easily the most popular lip augmentation option on the beauty market today. They make the lips fuller, plumper, smoother, and more youthful. It’s a minimally invasive procedure with a short recovery time.

That said, alternatives to lip fillers are increasingly in demand lately. Let’s take a closer look at why that is so and what those alternatives are.

Why Would You Want a Lip Injection Alternative?

Traditional lip fillers can be quite uncomfortable for some people. They can also be a hassle to maintain. Some of the downsides of lip injections that make people seek out alternatives include:

  • The invasiveness of the procedure
  • The feeling of the injection
  • Required downtime after the procedure
  • The mandatory periodic filler renewals
  • Risk of bruising
  • Risk of blocked blood vessels
  • Risk of inflammation or allergic reaction
  • Risk of the filler moving/shifting over time
  • The long-term maintenance costs

If you want plumper lips, but don’t want to deal with all of the above, you might consider one of these alternatives to lip fillers.

The 5 Best Alternatives to Lip Fillers

There are actually a few ways of plumping lips without fillers:

Lip Tattoo AKA Lip Blush

Lip tattoo is a type of cosmetic tattoo procedure, also known as lip blush. It defines and enhances the lips while still maintaining a subtle and natural look. It’s ideal for intensifying color in pale lips or correcting uneven shapes.

Lip Tattoo AKA Lip Blush
Image source: Instagram @glowupsuite

How Does It Work?

The lip tattoo treatment works by breaking the surface of the skin and depositing pigments in your chosen shade into it. The artist will use topical anesthetic to eliminate any pain, although some discomfort can still occur.

You will be assigned a tailored aftercare routine to follow after your appointment. After the lips are fully healed, you’ll be left with a beautiful makeup look of your chosen hue and opacity.

While lip blushing doesn’t make your lips physically larger, you can achieve a wonderfully effective illusion of plumpness.

Consult with your artist about tailoring the outline and pigmentation to create a full, symmetrical look (kind of like what you achieve with good lipstick).

The thing about lip blush is that it can slightly extend the color of your lips, making them visually fuller. Most people’s lips have a stretch of lip skin extending outside of the pink parts, which can be shaded in with lip blush.

How does lip tattoo lip blush work
Image source: Instagram @inkgal

How Long Does It Last?

In general, lip blushing can last for anywhere from 2 to 5 years.

Since it’s done with PMU pigments rather than traditional tattoo ink (usually), it does fade over time. The pigments are gradually broken down by the body and removed as the lips renew their skin cells.

How long your lip blush stays in place depends on factors like:

  • Pigment retention
  • Sun exposure
  • Lifestyle
  • Skincare products
  • Touch-up frequency


Right after a lip blush procedure, the lips swell up due to the trauma of the needling. It’s important to note that this effect is not permanent – it goes away within 24 hours. So bear in mind that before & after photos you see on Instagram aren’t the final result – look for healed examples.

Laser Lip Plumping

Laser lip plumping is a type of laser lip augmentation which is rapidly rising in popularity. It improves the coloring, volume, and shape of the lips. It’s entirely non-invasive and requires zero downtime.

Laser lip plumping is great for people who have:

  • Naturally thin lips
  • Lips thinned by aging
  • Dull lip color
  • Dark lips
  • Smoker lips
  • Sagging lips due to aging

How Does It Work?

Like the name suggests, this treatment involves applying short pulses of heat from a laser beam to the tissue of the lips, to stimulate the production of new collagen fibers. This improves the tightness, elasticity, and texture of the lips and the surrounding skin.

A laser lip plumping treatment takes about 15-20 minutes and is performed by a trained, experienced technician. The procedure is painless, and the effects you can expect include:

  • Increased lip volume
  • More symmetrical lip shape
  • Better-defined cupid’s bow
  • Less sagging in mature lips
  • Overall fuller look
  • Brighter, livelier lip color

How Long Does It Last?

Laser lip plumping generally lasts for 6-12 months between touch-ups. It depends on your age and collagen metabolism. Generally speaking, you can expect to need a touch-up at the following intervals:

  • Around 10-12 months if you’re aged 18-25
  • Around 6 months if you’re aged 25+
  • Around 3 months if you’re aged 60+

For more in-depth insight into the laser lip plumping process, check out this guide.

Lip Microneedling

Microneedling in general is great for boosting collagen production and achieving a youthful, hydrated look, but it’s not really recommended for the lips. There are three main reasons for that:

  • Lips feature many more fine blood vessels, making them more prone to bruising
  • The skin of the lips is much thinner and more sensitive
  • The lips lack sebaceous glands which secrete natural oils, meaning they don’t have their own nourishing moisture production system

Because of all of these factors, it’s better to forgo microneedling the lips themselves. Instead, you can perform it on the perioral area (the skin around the lips). This targets the lip lines, which is where the signs of aging actually show, and it’s a safe procedure worth doing.

Still, people do it, so we’ll go into more detail. In many cases, if you’re gentle, there aren’t any complications. But the effects are limited nevertheless.

lip microneedling
Image source: Instagram @drmateuscordeiro

How Does It Work?

Microneedling works by inflicting micro-trauma on the skin to trigger its natural regeneration process. This is why it’s also known as collagen induction therapy. You can learn more in-depth about it in PMUHub’s ultimate microneedling guide.

Lip microneedling can be done with a dermaroller or with a dermapen.

Dermarollers for lips are specifically designed to adapt to the lip shape. They also have shorter needles than standard dermarollers, to accommodate the thin skin of the lips. In addition, there are silicone bumpers on the wheel for extra protection.

Lip dermapens feature a cluster of needles at the top whose length is adjustable. This makes them much more precise and better suited to the sensitive lip area. They’re most commonly used for the BB glow treatment for lips.

How Long Does It Last?

After microneedling the lip area, you can expect a period of swelling. It tends to go away after 2-3 days. After that, you have another 2-3 days of plump lips, and then they go back to their normal look.

The short-lasting effect is one of the main downsides of lip microneedling.

On the other hand, it’s inexpensive, requires no downtime, and you can do it yourself at home. Read through our detailed guide on microneedling lips to learn all the pros and cons and decide for yourself whether it’s worth it.

Lip Flip

A lip flip is similar to lip filler in that it’s done by injection, but there are key differences.

First, the substance injected is different. In lip fillers it’s hyaluronic acid, whereas in lip flips it’s botulinum toxin.

Second, the injection site is different. Lip fillers are injected into any part of the lips or the whole lip area. Lip flip injections are applied specifically to the corners of the mouth (oral commissures) and the edges of the lips (vermillion border).

And third, the actual result is different. Lip flipping only makes your lips look plumper, without changing their physical volume. Lip fillers, on the other hand, do make them physically larger.

Results of a lip flip
Image source: Instagram @face_pmu

How Does It Work?

Lip flipping affects the muscles around your upper lip. The botulinum toxin makes them relax. This makes the lip “flip” up and outwards a little bit so your lips overall look larger than they are. This effect is called eversion.

How Long Does It Last?

In general, the effects of a lip flip treatment last 2-5 months. After that the effects of botulinum begin to fade. You should consult with your healthcare provider to determine when to schedule a follow-up for maintenance.

Lip Lift

Unlike all other alternatives to lip fillers that we mentioned, a lip lift is a permanent, surgical procedure. It involves shortening the space between the top lip and the nose (the philtrum).

Rather than changing the physical volume of the lips, this procedure achieves the illusion of fullness by increasing the height of the upper lip. It also increases the visibility of the upper central teeth when the lips are resting.

Lip lift alternatives
Image source: Instagram @dottantonioalbano

How Does It Work?

Lip lifts are done by making small incisions in the lip or nose area. The specific spot depends on the effect you want to achieve, which in turn dictates the specific lip lift technique your surgeon will use.

The upper lip is then pulled up towards the incision spot and closer to the nose. Sometimes, depending on the specific technique, a small strip of skin is removed from the incision area before lifting the lip.

How Long Does It Last?

As we mentioned above, the lip lift procedure is permanent. The skin at the surgical spot does recover, which may or may not leave a little scar.

However, because a part of the skin is removed and the lip pulled into its place, the shape of your lip area can never go back to what it was before the procedure.

Which Lip Injection Alternative Is Right For You?

When it comes to choosing the ideal way to plump lips, there are a few factors to consider.

The best method to achieve fuller lips will depend a lot on the characteristics of your body, the final effect you want to achieve, your overall budget, and the time you can commit to the procedure and any touch-ups.

First, consider the properties of your skin and other health factors. Consult with your healthcare provider and your chosen cosmetician about:

  • Your skin type
  • Your personal pain tolerance
  • Any known allergies
  • Any medicines you take which might affect your blood coagulation
  • Any pre-existing conditions such as herpes, scars, etc.

Next, consider the effect you want. Take the time to discuss in detail all the aspects of your desired final appearance:

  • The coloration and lightening
  • The outlining
  • Any shape correction
  • Tightening the skin
  • Scar camouflage, etc.

Third, consider your budget. In general, the more complex the procedure, the more expensive it will be, with surgical option being the most expensive. The price range of every type of PMU treatment depends on a few factors, including:

  • The artist’s expertise and experience
  • The materials used
  • The location of the salon or clinic, etc.

Finally, consider your time. Lip augmentation is a long-term commitment. Before you go forward with it, inform yourself about:

  • How long the treatment will take
  • How many touch-ups you’ll need to achieve your final look
  • How long the results will hold
  • How frequently you’ll need maintenance touch-ups
  • How long the healing and aftercare will take, etc.

Final Thoughts on Alternatives to Lip Fillers

If you don’t like hyaluronic acid fillers for any reason, you might consider a botulinum lip flip, as well as various ways of plumping lips without injections.

Lip blush tattooing, laser lip plumping, lip microneedling, and surgical lip lifts can all give you fuller lips without injections.

Review your budget and time and consider what specifically you want to achieve, then choose the method that best fits your needs.

Don’t forget to consult with your esthetician or PMU artist and your healthcare provider. They’ll review the various alternatives to lip fillers together with you and help you make the best choice.

Cover image source: Freepik



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