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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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How to Get Full(er) Lips

We can't all have full lips like Angelina Jolie, but there are ways to restore the look of fuller lips that we had in our youth.

Menopause & Aging Well

Quick: If you had limited time to put on makeup in the morning, what one thing would you reach for?

Did you say mascara?

Or was it lipstick?

For me, it's all about the lips (although I must admit that eyelashes are a close second).

Sure, eyelashes may thin as we age, but lips … well, they take thinning to the extreme. Blame the loss of collagen—that protein that helps support your body's soft tissue. You know, the stuff that makes your lips full and plump.

Or, ahem, formerly full and plump.

Add in some ultraviolet rays from the sun, and there's more than just age causing that collagen breakdown. (Note: Use an SPF product on your lips! Always!)

I've always admired Angelina Jolie's lips. Mine are—and always were—a far cry from hers. I think full lips define a face so beautifully, lending expression, sultriness and a certain glamour. Don't you?

Can you fake them? Sure, there are some ways. When I googled, "How to get fuller lips," more than a few ways came up: about 10,700,000 results!

You can draw a line with a pencil that matches your lip color. But this can't be rushed or done with the wrong color (not to mention that it must be done completely sober). I found out the hard way some years back when I saw my husband's expression as I returned from the restroom at our favorite fancy restaurant the night we went to celebrate a milestone birthday. (Hence, my new nickname: Clown Mouth).

Scratch that trick. I never tried it again. Now I have FOCM (fear of clown mouth).

Then there's something you can do with highlighter—blend a thin line of it (the liquid kind) along your "cupid's bow." Don't ask me why, but doing this somehow makes your lips look "curvier" by letting the light bounce off the highlighted area.

I also found a suction cup that fits over your lips. The act of pulling on your lips sends blood rushing to them, hence the (temporary) puffiness. Um, no thanks.

And then there are fillers (injectable gels) like Juvéderm Ultra XC and Juvéderm Vobella XC, recently approved by the FDA for lip augmentation. The gel is composed of a modified form of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring sugar that's found in the human body. Pretty amazing stuff, actually. It increases the fullness of your lips while also softening the appearance of fine lines around your mouth (another thing that happens as the years march on).

Results, although not permanent, are apparent as soon as the gel hits your lips, and you'll enjoy the best results at about the three-month mark. Almost 80 percent of patients report still being pleased with results one year later.

Manhattan board-certified dermatologist Dr. Monica Halem says that treating the lips with these substances gives natural results that won't look obvious. She assured me that the outcome would be subtle and natural. And it was just that.

Full disclosure: I was treated to a session to see for myself. In case you're wondering, no, it didn't hurt—my lips were numbed ahead of time with a topical gel, and I didn't feel a thing. Plus, the gel is fortified with a small amount of local anesthetic (lidocaine) to help minimize discomfort.

My lips are nowhere close to Angelina's—nor do they resemble a clown's mouth. They are a bit fuller, a bit more even than before, and every bit the type I had as a young girl. It's a really subtle change, but a nice one, helped by Dr. Halem's expert artistry.

If you're curious about other aesthetic procedures, check out this tool, which can help you locate a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Want to see an example of lip augmentation? Take a look at the before and after photos supplied by the manufacturer, Allergan.


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