Health

How lip fillers can give you plump, pouty lips and what to expect from the procedure

Summary List PlacementLip fillers are designed to make your lips look plumper. This usually involves a quick, in-office procedure and you should heal completely within a few days. Lip injections are relatively safe, but you should always get them from a qualified plastic surgeon or dermatologist. Here's what you need to know about the lip injection procedure, how to prepare for your appointment, and what to do afterward. What are lip injections? Most lip fillers are made from an ingredient called hyaluronic acid. "Our bodies naturally contain this acid, but we lose it as we age," says Alexis Parcells MD, a board-certified...

lip fillers

Summary List Placement

Lip fillers are designed to make your lips look plumper. This usually involves a quick, in-office procedure and you should heal completely within a few days. Lip injections are relatively safe, but you should always get them from a qualified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

Here’s what you need to know about the lip injection procedure, how to prepare for your appointment, and what to do afterward.

What are lip injections?

Most lip fillers are made from an ingredient called hyaluronic acid. “Our bodies naturally contain this acid, but we lose it as we age,” says Alexis Parcells MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon and clinical instructor at RWJ Barnabas Health.

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Hyaluronic acid helps to lock moisture into your skin, which can create a plump look or change the shape of your lips if it’s injected into strategic areas.

Some lip fillers may also contain a numbing agent like lidocaine, which makes the procedure less painful, Parcells says.

Lip filler doesn’t just make your lips bigger — depending on how your doctor places the injections, you can get many different effects including:

  • Greater definition of your lip line
  • Greater projection of your upper lip
  • Redefining your cupid’s bow (the two peaks in the middle of your top lip)
  • Smoothing lines on your lips

Lip injections may work best for people who don’t want to make a permanent change. The effects of lip filler generally wear off after six to eighteen months.

The typical cost of lip fillers is $600 to $800 per syringe and most patients only need one or two syringes to get the look they want.

The lip injection procedure

Here’s what to expect before, during, and after a lip injection procedure: 

Before the procedure 

“Prior to your injection, you should stop any medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements that increase your risk of bleeding,” Parcells says. You should stop medications about a week before the procedure, and include:

  •     Pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin
  •     Certain digestive medications like Alka Seltzer and Pepto Bismol
  •     Anti-clotting medications like heparin and warfarin
  •     Herbal supplements like ginseng and vitamin E

Stanford University offers a more complete list of medications to avoid here.

To prevent excess bruising, you should avoid drinking alcohol for 24 hours before your procedure, as alcohol causes your blood vessels to open wider. 

You can also take arnica, an herbal supplement, for four to five days before your procedure to reduce the risk of bruising.

During the procedure 

According to Parcells, your lip injection procedure should follow these steps:

  1. Your doctor may apply numbing cream to your lips about 20 minutes before the injection to help alleviate any pain.
  2. Your doctor will then inject filler into various areas of your lips. “The procedure takes around 10 minutes to perform,” Parcells says.
  3. Once this is done, you need to massage your lips for a few minutes to help the filler spread evenly.

In total, the procedure should take between 20 and 30 minutes.

After the procedure  

After your procedure, there are several steps you should take to help your lips heal:

  • Apply ice packs to your lips to numb any pain and slow blood flow that can cause bruising.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol for 24 hours after the procedure
  • If desired, continue to take arnica supplements for four to five days after the injection.
  • Don’t do any vigorous exercise for two days after getting filler. Exercise increases your blood flow, which can contribute to bruising.
  • If you have a history of getting cold sores around your mouth, lip injections can trigger an outbreak. “Make sure to tell your physician prior to injection and she can prescribe an antiviral drug and reduce the risk of an outbreak,” Parcells says.

You can go back to work immediately after getting lip filler, but “expect your lips to be swollen and/or bruised for 3 days following the procedure,” Parcells says.

Results are immediate and will last up to a year or more, depending on how long it takes your body to break down the hyaluronic acid filler.

Risks of lip injections

 It’s rare for lip fillers to cause serious problems, but possible side effects include:

  • Bruising 
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • The appearance of lumps under your skin
  • Blocked blood vessels that can cause tissue to die

“If something does not feel or look right after the procedure, reach out to the office and be seen if necessary,” Parcells says.

Insider’s takeaway

Lip fillers are a semi-permanent way to plump up and define your lips. It’s a quick procedure with little down time, but you’ll need to properly care for your lips before and after getting filler.

It’s important to find the right plastic surgeon or dermatologist who has experience performing lip injections. “Ask to see before and after photos and make sure they thoroughly explain the procedure to you,” Parcells says.

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