All About Lip Filler

and how to tell if you’ll look ducky

What is lip filler and what does it do?

Lip filler is a gel like substance that is injected into the lips to add volume, smooth lines, shape the lips and improve overall appearance. It is typically very natural appearing and the goal, unless correcting baseline asymmetry, is to provide a look that’s like “your lips but better”.

Some women also go for a more dramatic look, like Kylie Jenner above, but that’s more the exception rather than the rule.

Whether you’re interested in a subtle or dramatic enhancement this article will go over the basics of lip filler and educate you on what to look for to ensure that either way you still look like yourself and not Donald Duck.

To read more about filler, including the different kinds, check out filler 101.

Why do some people look overdone or have duck lips?

So why do some people look overdone when you look up lip filler photos? Some possibilities of why someones lips might look like the photo attached, include:

  • The patient has just had filler and is very swollen: it is common to have significant swelling for a few days after filler and if caught on camera one might look overdone. People often post their swollen photos and it is important to note that this is not the final outcome. Lips can look double in size the next day and then a week later simply look subtly enhanced.
  • The patient received too much filler: receiving too much filler could be because the client requested it or because the provider over-filled. Consider starting with 0.5-1 syringe (0.5-1ml) and then following up 2-4 weeks later for additional treatments (if desired) to avoid overfilling.
  • The patient had an adverse reaction: this is less common but certainly possible. Some people may have an allergic reaction or simply react by swelling more than usual. This typically resolves within a week without intervention but should be evaluated by the injecting provider.
  • Poor injection technique: the client may have been filled with a “sausage” type technique. This is where equal amounts of filler are injected all across the lip instead of respecting the natural tubercles (seen below) that create a more pleasing and natural look.
  • Self injections: there has been a trend lately of untrained individuals trying to inject themselves, or others, and without knowing the anatomy, product, and having practiced; results are usually very poor. Product purchased online without a license may also be fake and outcomes may be unpredictable and outright dangerous.

How to prevent duck lips

A simple test to tell if you’ll look ducky with upper lip filler is to part your lips and observe how much of your top teeth show. If no top teeth are seen then talk to your injecting provider about how to avoid a ducky look. The model above may have a naturally pouty appearing upper lip or she may have filler, but without any upper teeth showing she is at risk for looking (more) ducky if she were to have filler.

No upper teeth showing does not mean that you can’t have filler. It just needs to be done in a specific way to avoid a ducky appearance.

The distance of the philtrum, or the length between the bottom of the nose and top of lip, can also play a role in whether someone will look “ducky” or not. A length of 12-15mm is desirable but may not apply to everyone. Some Plastic surgeons suggest that a top lip longer than this length may look better after a surgical lip lift instead of using filler.

As an alternative to surgery you could also start with Botox or Xeomin in this area to shorten the upper lip, this technique is demonstrated below. This will not be as dramatic as surgery but will still help.

Follow natural proportions for an aesthetically pleasing lip appearance. The Golden Ratio of 1:1.6 for size of top lip when compared to bottom lip can be followed to achieve the most desired result in lip enhancement. Filling in certain areas that have natural volume are also favored over the sausage technique mentioned above.

Depending on ethnicity, age and overall facial structure (as seen below) a 1:1 ratio or 1:2 ratio may be appropriate as well.

Lips parted with good view of upper teeth= less likely to have ducky appearance when filled with correct amount and technique.

The lip flip with Botox

For a longer upper lip you can get a few units of neuromodulator (Botox, Xeomin, Dysport) to help lift the upper lip. This works great when used with filler to add volume and also avoid a ducky appearance. It works by knocking out movement of the inner portion of the obicularis oris (muscle that moves the lips) and so the outer/upper portion pulls the lip up.

The lift is subtle because you cannot use too much Botox in this area as it can affect speech if left unable to fully purse lips. Due to high movement in this area the lift usually only lasts a few months. To learn more about Botox and other neuromodulators check out Botox 101.

More on proportions

This study published in JAMA Network surveyed hundreds of people to determine the most pleasing lip proportions in white women. The data determined that a combination of: a total lip surface area increase by 53.5%, linear dimension of 9.6% of the lower face and a ratio of 1:2 between the top and bottom lip was determined to be the most appealing.

When looking at the women below which proportions do you find most attractive?

Note how the lips look alone on the bottom row versus with the rest of this woman’s facial features on the photo directly above. The 1:2 ratio on the lips only photos was most appealing but the young woman also looks attractive with a 1:1 ratio when looking at her whole face.

This is why technique, ratios, and overall facial balance has to be considered when injecting lips. It is not a one size fits all.

1:1 Proportions

As mentioned above a 1:1 ratio of top lip to bottom lip can also be very attractive depending on the client’s ethnicity and facial structure. A few examples are below.

The 1:1 ratio is very natural for African American women.

Many women have been requesting a 1:1 ratio to mimic actress and Duchess, Meghan Markle’s beautiful pout.

A 1:1 ratio is also very natural in Asian and Hispanic women.


  • Lip filler is great for adding volume and definition to the lips for a subtle or dramatic look.
  • Pictures online of “overdone” lips are often just caught in the swollen phase and typically will look natural after a few days to a week. Over-filling, technique, allergies, and self-injecting can also create an undesirable look.
  • To determine if a ducky appearance is possible open your mouth to see if your top teeth show, if they do not then talk to your provider about how to avoid a duck look.
  • Following proportions and filling the proper lip tubercles can lead to a more desirable and natural appearing result.
  • Proportions of top to bottom lip typically range from 1:1.6 to 1:1 for the most pleasing appearance depending on baseline lip and face shape as well as ethnicity.

Ready to get injections? Book below or read “The Lip Filler Roller Coaster of Emotions” next.