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Everything You Need To Know About Lip Injections

Because lip liner only goes so far.
PHOTO: JOHN FRANCIS/COSMOPOLITAN
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It’s 2020, and getting lip injections is about as common as getting your hair highlighted. But let me remind you that lip filler is a real procedure with real risks when done incorrectly. And as much as I’m sure you’d love to toss all your lip liners and finally get those plump lips you’ve always wanted, take some time to consider all the facts first, mkay?

Ahead, NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD, and double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Lesley Rabach, MD, lay out all the facts (like how long lip fillers last and cost) so you know exactly what to expect when getting your lips injected for the first time.

What is the most natural lip filler?

Welp, you’ve got temporary and permanent fillers, and trust me—temporary is the way to go. Permanent and semi-permanent fillers, while tempting, are not reversible (hence the name permanent), and little can be done to fix them if you hate them.

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The better option is a temporary hyaluronic acid (HA) filler. If you’re thinking, “Wait, the same stuff that's in my hyaluronic acid serum?” Yup. It’s a sugar derivative naturally found in your body that has the ability to hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. And for that reason, it’s perfect for both hydrating your skin and plumping your lips (or cheeks, chin, jaw, etc). Hyaluronic acid is also the preferred filler type for its more natural look and ability to dissolve over time or with the help of your derm.

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How much do lip injections cost?

Brace yourself: Lip injections cost anywhere from $550 (roughly P27,909) to $2,000 (roughly P101,488) —and you’ll likely need to top off the lip filler every six to nine months. Why such a big range, tho? The price depends on the type of filler (more on that later on), the amount of filler you get, the region you live in, and the physician you see. Don't cheap out on your injections by going to some discount spa, though. It’s not worth the very, very high risk (infection, rejection, distortion, etc).

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How long do lip injections last?

As far as how long lip fillers last, Dr. Rabach says that depends on how much a patient gets, their metabolism, the desired plumpness, and the product used, but you can usually expect anywhere from six months to three years, on average. Though, seriously, this is one of those things where your mileage really does vary. Some may need to get their fillers topped off after six months, and others may be fine for longer.

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How many syringes do you need for lips?

Dr. Rabach says one syringe distributed appropriately is usually the right amount for most people to start with because you get all-over enhancement while still maintaining a natural appearance. "Gradual plumping is key," says Dr. Rabach. "In our office, we will often start with half a syringe and have the patient come back after a week or two later for another half." And be wary if it's your first time getting filler and your doctor suggests more than one syringe. "Two syringes are too much for most people in one sitting if we’re going for a natural appearance," she says.

What is the best lip filler?

Dr. Rabach says the fillers that are used most commonly for lips are Juvéderm, Juvéderm Ultra, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Juvéderm Volbella, Restylane, and Restylane Silk. "These are all made from hyaluronic acid but differ in their thicknesses and how they look in the lip." Juvéderm, Volbella, and Restylane Silk are much thinner, so they’re used more superficially and can make the lip look a little bit puffier.

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For her older patients, Dr. Idriss prefers to use Restylane to reshape and redefine the border or "scaffolding" of the lips that fades over time. And in younger patients with thinner lips, she likes to use Juvéderm Volbella for volume and oomph. All that’s to say, when choosing your doctor, consider their aesthetic as an important part of the decision.

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Do lip injections hurt?

Dr. Rabach says all the hyaluronic acid products come mixed with lidocaine (a numbing medication), but the doctor can numb the area around your lips with a dental nerve block (an injection into your gums just like a dentist would do before filling a cavity), or you can opt for a topical anesthetic (numbing cream), which Dr. Idriss prefers. "When you do a dental nerve block, it changes the way you move your lips and what the shape looks like for a couple [of] hours," she says. Once numb, you’ll feel a little prick, slight pressure, and a dull kind of throbbing, but it shouldn’t be too intensely painful if you’re numbed up.

Are lip fillers dangerous?

Although fillers are commonly considered a "lunchtime procedure," you need to view this as a potentially invasive procedure with the possibility of serious risks, like a scary-sounding thing called vascular occlusion (aka blood vessel blockage, which is rare, but can lead to tissue death), before making the final decision to go through with it.

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To avoid a botched job, only see a board-certified professional, such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who is highly experienced in this specific procedure. Ask to see before and after pictures of what the doctor has done, and also look at the staff’s faces. Dr. Idriss says the staff can be the best litmus test of the doctor’s work because they’ve likely been worked on.

Lip filler before and after pictures? Yup, right this way.

That's what you really came here for, isn't it? Say no more:





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What do I need to know before getting lip fillers?

Before your lip injection appointment, make sure to avoid blood thinners. Thinner blood will make the area more prone to bruising and bleeding, so 10 days prior, stop taking painkillers (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen), fish oil, and vitamin E—and, yes, stop drinking alcohol, which also thins your blood. And anyone who has a history of cold sores should take their prevention medication two days before the procedure because it could trigger a flare-up.

What should you not do after lip injections?

Sorry, but stay out of the gym for at least 24 hours. And you should avoid activities that increase blood flow to your face, like getting a massage or facial or doing headstands (all you yogis), which can only add to the swelling.

Is it possible to get natural-looking lip fillers?

For the most part, "natural" has to do mostly with placement and amount, rather than the type of filler used. Dr. Rabach says each person’s lips need to be examined for symmetry and overall shape so the filler can be placed accordingly. "If someone is wants a fuller lip, the best option is often to gradually add filler over time so it looks natural," she says. In other words, don’t expect to walk away with drastically different lips after one appointment if you still want 'em to look natural.

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"As you do this procedure over and over, you forget where you were at baseline," Dr. Idriss explains. "So you have to find a physician who’s going to keep you in check, because you don’t want to go overboard and start looking really ducky or inflated."

Do lip fillers permanently stretch your lips?

Despite what you might think, your lips will not turn into saggy, deflated skin bags after your filler dissolves. On the contrary, Dr. Idriss says injecting your lips indirectly stimulates your own collagen production when the needle pricks your skin, so your lips could actually remain a tiny bit larger after injections. Win-win, right?

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Does lip filler dissolve naturally?

If you use a hyaluronic acid filler, yes, the filler will dissolve in a matter of months. Another bonus of HA filler: If you don’t like how your lips turn out for whatever reason, your doctor can inject an eraser enzyme called hyaluronidase to break down the particles and speed up the rate at which the fillers dissolve. Dr. Idriss says the process only lasts a few seconds and the results are instant, but it could take a few days for the filler and swelling to totally go down.

How can you make lip injections last longer?

Bad news: you can't. Because the length of time your lip fillers will last is so dependent on a zillion different factors, Dr. Rabach says there isn’t much you can do to keep them fuller for longer. Your body will do what it wants to do. Womp, womp.

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How can you get lip fillers at home?

Good news: If you want a little at-home fix without shelling out thousands of moolah, Dr. Rabach says a lip plumper that contains hyaluronic acid, mint, and/or peppermint could temporarily (and mildly) pump the lips. To be clear, it won't give you the same results, but it’s wayyy less painful and risky. And hey, you always have lip liner tricks to fall back on.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.