Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Lip Fillers
Lip fillers (or lip injections) have become one of the most popular and in-demand procedures across beauty clinics in the US today.
In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 3 million filler treatments were performed last year alone.
The reasons for this are varied – besides the pure aesthetic of that “plumped up” or fuller look, lip fillers also offer other benefits, such as helping to correct the volume loss of lips that can naturally occur over time.
Seeing as you’re reading this, chances are that you’re thinking about getting this procedure yourself.
As with most things in life, it’s always good to do a little reading and research first, so hopefully this will help.
We’ve broken down some of the most-often-asked questions people have around lip fillers and injections, covering everything from what it actually is, to what sort of results you can expect.
This should hopefully give you all the context and info you need, before embarking on the journey to fuller, beautiful lips.
So what exactly are lip fillers?
“Lip fillers”, “lip injections”, and “lip augmentation” are all terms you’ve probably heard before.
They’re often used interchangeably and pretty much mean the same thing.
In simple terms, lip fillers are a cosmetic procedure that will help enhance your lips and make them fuller and plumper.
As the various names suggest, it involves injecting a filler (the most widely used being hyaluronic acid-based solutions, like Juvéderm or Restylane) into your lips.
As we touched on earlier, patients use lip fillers for various reasons - adding natural-looking volume, making lips appear fuller, or evening out lip shape.
It's not a “one size fits all” and is incredibly customizable according to the look you’re wanting to achieve.
So whether you’re wanting something “big and bold”, or looking for a more subtle look, these can all be achieved using lip fillers.
What is the best filler to use for lips?
You’ve probably heard of or seen some of the more popular products on the market, such as Juvéderm, Juvéderm Ultra, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Juvéderm Volbella, Restylane, and Restylane Silk.
All of the products above are made from what’s called hyaluronic acid, which is a protein naturally found in your body.
The reason it works so well as a lip filler, is because it has the ability to hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water.
ie: Ideal for both hydrating your skin as well as adding volume to your lips.
And as it’s already found in your body, it gives you a more natural look, as well as having the ability to dissolve over time.
Now although all the products mentioned above contain hyaluronic acid, where they differ from one another is in their thicknesses and levels of volume that they’ll add to your lips.
As an example, Juvéderm, Volbella, and Restylane Silk are much thinner, so they are typically used when you’re wanting to add considerable volume and fullness to your lips.
A product like Restylane on the other hand, is great for reshaping and redefining the border of lips that can naturally fade over time as you get older.
So the short answer to what the best lip filler to use is – it all depends on what you’re hoping to achieve.
Consult your injector on the type of look you’re wanting to go for, and they will be able to advise on the best product to use.
What are “lip flips”? Is it similar to lip fillers?You may have come across the term “lip flips”, which on the surface gives a very similar appearance to lip fillers.
Are they the same thing?
A lip flip does involve an injection. But instead of hyaluronic acid, the lips are filled with a small amount of neurotoxin (like Botox).
This then relaxes the muscles around the lips, which causes the lip to protrude or “flip out” a little, giving you a poutier appearance.
It’s often used by patients with naturally thin lips and / or a “gummy smile”, who are looking for some enhancement without really adding additional volume.
So again, when it comes to deciding on a lip filler or a lip flip, it all depends on what you’re wanting to achieve.
How much do lip fillers cost?
The cost of lip fillers can typically range from $550 to $2,000.
The reason for the broad range is that it depends on the type of filler you choose, the amount you need (depending on your desired look) as well as the doctor you’re seeing.
Other things to consider is that you’re likely going to need to “top up” your lip fillers every 6-9 months.
In addition, injectors will often suggest that you use specialised lip filler preparatory and aftercare products to help you better maintain that look.
“When it comes to lip augmentation, most of my clients ask what they can do to make sure they get the lip filler results they desire”, says Dr. Barczak from California Cosmetics Med Spa.
“My goal with a lip augmentation is to maximize the outcome in terms of my clients’ expectations of a cosmetic result followed by alleviating some of the aftercare (such as bruising and swelling) so that we minimize their “social” downtime and achieve their desired results sooner. Unfortunately, it is not only up to us as injectors to ensure that beautiful results are achieved. How a patient prepares for the lip augmentation in addition to aftercare can influence results. So instead of asking what you can do after your lip augmentation to help achieve the results you want (which is the most common question asked), what you can do PRE-lip augmentation to maximize your result is probably the more important question.”
In this lip filler guru we trust!
The basic rule of thumb here is that “you get what you pay for”.
When it comes to your lips, it’s not worth the high risk (infections, distortion etc.) by trying to save costs and going for the cheapest route.
So by all means shop around, but also pay close attention to reviews and before-and-after pics so you know your lips are in good hands.
How long do lip fillers last?
Lip fillers typically last around 6-9 months, before needing to be “topped up”, but this can vary depending on how much you get, your metabolism, the desired look and the product you’re using.
Using lip filler aftercare cosmetics can help prolong the duration between doctor visits, but in general you’re likely to need additional lip injections once a year.
Which lip filler will give me the most “natural” look?
It’s a fairly subjective term, and it all depends on your desired look and tastes (“natural” for one, may be “too inflated” for another).
By and large, “natural” is more to do with placement and amount of lip filler used, rather than the type of injection.
If you are wanting something a lot more subtle, your doctor will closely examine the symmetry and shape of your lips, identifying exactly where the lip filler would be placed, and then gradually add it over time (ie: several appointments) so it looks natural.
How many syringes do I need for my lips?
Again, this varies according to your desired look, but usually one syringe is enough for most people to start with, as you will then get enhancement on both lips while still maintaining a natural appearance.
Many doctors and dermatologists will also advocate for “gradual plumping”, where half a syringe is used initially, with another half used for a follow-up appointment a week or so later.
If it’s your first consult, and your doctor is advising more than one syringe, be particularly wary – typically, using two syringes in one sitting is too much for most people, especially if you’re aiming for a more natural appearance.
Are lip fillers painful?
Here's the good news - the hyaluronic acid fillers mentioned above (Juvéderm, Restylane etc.) all come mixed with a numbing medication called lidocaine, so at most you will feel an initial prick, followed by a dull throbbing as the numbing agent kicks in.
Alternatively, you can reduce pain using what’s called a dental nerve block (an injection into your gums, similar to how a dentist would inject you before filling a cavity) although going this route can change the way you move your lips and can alter its shape for a couple of hours.
Is it dangerous to get lip fillers?
As with any invasive procedure, there will technically always be some possibility of risk or potential side effects.
Having said that, lip fillers are commonly referred to as a “lunchtime procedure” for a reason - it’s incredibly safe and quick.
To give yourself peace of mind though, you should only ever have your lip injections done by a board-certified professional (dermatologist or plastic surgeon), someone who is highly experienced in lip injections.
Do your research before-hand, read up on the doctor in question, any online reviews and any before-and-after photos you can find.
What do I need to know before getting lip fillers?
There are a couple of important things to consider here:
Firstly, it’s advisable to make use of some good lip filler cosmetics beforehand, as it will keep your lips hydrated and in the best possible shape before your procedure.
Secondly, make sure to avoid blood thinners, as thinner blood can increase the likelihood of your lips swelling and bleeding after your injections.
So in the 10 days leading up to your procedure, avoid taking painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen etc), fish oil, and any foods high in vitamin E (pumpkin, spinach, sunflower seeds) as well as drinking alcohol.
What should I not do after lip injections?
The short answer is… don’t exercise.
Increased physical activity and rising body temperature can cause increased blood flow to the lip area, possibly aggravating swelling, bruising, or discomfort.
So try to avoid excessive or very strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours after your lip injections.
In addition, avoid drinking through a straw during this period as this also puts pressure on the lips.
And again, avoid drinking alcohol during the first day after your lip fillers, as this can cause your blood to thin, which can lead to more bruising and swelling.
Can lip fillers permanently “stretch” my lips?
Rest assured, your lips will not turn into stretchy, deflated skin once your initial lip fillers dissolve.
In actual fact, lip injections indirectly stimulates your body’s natural collagen production, so if anything, your lips could actually remain slightly fuller, even after the initial injections wear off.
Do lip fillers dissolve naturally?
If you use a hyaluronic acid filler like Juvéderm or Restylane, then yes, it will dissolve naturally in a matter of months.
Another benefit of using a lip filler that contains hyaluronic acid is that - in a worst-case scenario where you don’t like how your lips have turned out - your doctor can easily rectify it by injecting an eraser enzyme called hyaluronidase, which breaks down the natural particles and speeds up the rate at which the fillers dissolve.
That process can be done in seconds and the results are almost instant, although it can sometimes take a couple of days for any swelling to go down.
How can I make my lip injections last longer?
How long your lip fillers will last depends on a variety of factors (the product you used, how much you’ve used etc.)
As mentioned above, lip fillers can generally last around 6-9 months before you need to go back to your doctor or dermatologist, although using specialized aftercare cosmetics can help prolong this.
What are the risks of getting lip fillers?
As mentioned above, you should only ever have your lip injections done by a board-certified professional who is highly experienced in lip injections.
Common risks / side effects of lip fillers would be bruising and swelling, although this can be mitigated by eating and drinking the right foods before and immediately after, and avoiding exercise in the first 24 hours.
If you do experience any bruising and swelling, it usually goes away within a few days.
Getting lip fillers (or lip injections) is a safe procedure with very few potential side effects.
You can have fuller lips with more volume for at least 6 months before needing to get additional fillers.
Hopefully, this has given you some peace of mind, and you have all the info and context you need to help you make the right decision.