Looking grumpy when you don’t feel it? The new Resting Bitch Face Reversal treatment claims to put the smile back on your face in one session. Ingeborg van Lotringen investigates

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The quickest way to make you grumpy is for someone to tell you to cheer up (telling them to mind their own business is an instant fix). But not so easily remedied, unless you have expert help, is the downturned mouth that comes with ageing. Yes, the grumpy look (or ‘resting bitch face’, as the Urban Dictionary would have it) may be unrelated to how you feel on the inside, but it’s a result of what’s happening to your skin and facial muscles - thanks to gravity,  bone loss and muscle tension (hello tech neck). It’s most apparent when our faces are relaxed or at rest, hence ‘resting bitch face’.

RBF is so common, and so often complained about, that aesthetic doctors do a brisk trade in lip corner lifts to ‘turn that frown upside down.’

Aesthetic physician Dr Wassim Taktouk (below) has so many patients bemoaning their ‘resting bitch face’ that he’s named his corrective treatment in their honour. His ‘Resting Bitch Face Reversal’ is a non-surgical, bespoke tweakment that uses injectables such as fillers and/or muscle-relaxing toxin (such as Botox) to lift the mouth corners.

Dr Wassim Taktouk at the Taktouk clinic

Meanwhile, for fellow London cosmetic physician Dr Uliana Gout a lip corner lift is one of the first things she suggests when people come to see her. “We all suffer from down-turned lip corners as we age, so it’s the first thing I address for all my patients!” she says.

She has devised her ‘Dual Lip Sublimation’ lip makeover treatment for grump-reversing effects. She doesn’t use toxin, but tiny injections of hyaluronic acid fillers and hydrating boosters (hence ‘Dual’) for a traceless lift.

Around the country, doctors offer their own takes on lip corner lift treatments along the same lines. But what causes ‘resting bitch face’ in the first place?

Dr Uliana Gout at the London Aesthetic clinic

What causes downturned mouth corners?

For some people a downturned mouth is genetic. But for most, drooping mouth corners are due to time and gravity taking their toll (the treatment is the same in either case).

  • Hardworking mouth muscles eventually create sagging skin

It turns out that 18 of our facial muscles (that’s nearly half!) are in the mouth area. Obviously in a super-mobile area like this, there’s a constant pull and tug on the overlying skin, which over time gets stretched it and turns saggier, losing its ‘snap’.

  • Age and poor posture tighten the neck muscles

With age, the ‘platysma’ muscle in the neck (the large visible muscle running down the front sides of your neck) pulls your lower face, including the corners of your mouth, down when you tense it, causing your skin to stretch and sag. People who work out hard and tense their neck muscles often have more lower face sagginess than those who don’t, ditto heavy phone and screen users who let their heads hang forward. Yes, ‘Tech neck’ can contribute to ‘resting bitch face’ as well.

  • Bone loss in your chin and heaviness in your lower face

Age-related bone loss happens all over the face, but when it disappears form the chin  you lose some of the structure that supports the mouth. At the same time, fat migrates (mostly down) around the face as we age which adds weight to the lower face. This extra heaviness around lower mouth corners accentuates the drooping skin and ‘downturned’ look.

What is a non-surgical lip corner lift?

Taktouk injects little drops of filler in tiny threads just under the lower lip corners. It works to prop up the lip corners like scaffolding. “It results in a more upturned, happy look when relaxed,” he says. Depending on your needs, he may add cheek filler (see below).

Gout injects her filler and skin boosters where the saggy skin is happening or is set to happen in the future – typically around the mouth corners and in ‘marionette’ lines between the lip corners and chin. She uses microneedles and micro-cannulas to make the process as painless and subtle as possible.

Depending on your needs, Taktouk may use toxin injections to paralyse the muscles that pull your mouth corners down –  either those near your mouth corners or your platysma (neck) muscle, or both. Don’t worry: you’ll still be able to smile! …

Both the filler and toxin jabs are stingy but not particularly painful.

Words of warning about lip corner lifts

Don’t go for an off-the-peg treatment. A good doctor takes your specific anatomy and patterns of ageing into account and adjusts the treatment accordingly. “Some people can get away with just a few tiny injections around the mouth to pull those corners slightly upwards,” says Taktouk. “But others might require fillers in the cheek area as well to get a noticeable ‘lifted’ effect.” Toxin may be really helpful for some, but not necessary for others. It’s really all in the personal assessment by your doctor.

It’s essential that not just any filler is used, which is why no one should rock up to their nearest clinic and ask for (and receive!) ‘filler’ to lift lip corners. Fillers, which are there to add structure, can range from almost liquid to quite firm. “You need one specifically designed for very dynamic areas of the face,” says Taktouk.

Taktouk uses as liquid a filler as possible that still has the ability to support (Teoxane Resilient Hyaluronic Acid (RHA) dermal fillers in case you’re interested - they’re custom-designed for mobile areas, he says).

The right filler has to blend seamlessly into the skin and not sit there looking bulbous like a bad lip job, he says. It needs to move naturally around an ever-moving mouth. Use a one-size-fits-all filler that is too dense or rigid and you end up with bizarre lumps: “you wouldn’t believe the bad work and inappropriate fillers we have to correct sometimes,” says Taktouk.

What results can you expect from a lip corner lift?

Results from the fillers are pleasingly instant (although there may be a little temporary swelling). The toxin will take four to seven days to kick in.

For such a quick treatment, the difference it can make to the lips can be huge, says Gout. “Just a few tiny injections can make you look instantly more alert, happy and healthy.”

It can also bring balance to your face, especially if you’ve had upper face tweakments in the past: “Most anti-wrinkle related procedures [think frown and crow’s feet-freezing toxin injections] are focused on the upper half of the face. What often happens is that the top half area gets ‘frozen’ in time while the bottom half has had no attention, accentuating the signs of ageing there.” The real test of well-ageing, he feels, is seeing firm, well-sculpted skin around the mouth.

What is the cost of lip corner lift and how long will it last?

Filler treatment lasts 12 to 18 months and additional takes a week to set in and lasts about three months.

The ‘Resting Bitch Face Reversal’ at The Taktouk Clinic: filler from £495 and toxin (if needed) from £295 Prices will be lower outside London. Teoxane fillers are available in clinics nationwide.

Dual Lip Sublimation is a ‘total lip makeover’ including a lip corner lift and costs £850 at London’s LAM Clinic.