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10 things to know before getting lip injections

Blog post - before after lip injection hyaluronic acid Juvederm woman

Collagen injections used to be the only way to plump up lips (other than fat injections or lip lift surgery) until hyaluronic acid fillers came along. These “lipstick in a syringe” fillers have essentially replaced collagen as the primarily method to enhance lips, in addition being used to augmenting cheeks, reducing wrinkles, and improving dark circles. The current hyaluronic acid fillers being used for lip injections by plastic surgeons and dermatologists in the US are Restylane,® Juvederm®, and Belotero®.

Before getting your first lip injection with hyaluronic acid fillers, there are a few things you should be aware of:

1. There is no “best” lip filler
The hyaluronic acid fillers used in lip injections are very similar with only slight variations. All last about 6 months and have similar aesthetic results. In blind testing, patients and physicians would have very difficult time determining what was injected into the lips. Plastic surgeons and patients will have, however, their own general preferences.

2. The lips will look bigger initially then settle down in size
The lips are sensitive to many things and can swell for a variety of reasons. The topical numbing cream alone can make the lips swell for some patients. Especially in sensitive lips, the initial appearance once your plastic surgeon is done might alarm you from being “over done”, but this swelling is temporary and settles down with time.

3. Make-up can be worn the same day
Each filler and patient is unique, so specific recommendations will vary among plastic surgeons. However, for many patients who have a conservative amount of uncomplicated lip augmentation with hyaluronic acid, make-up and lip stick can usually be worn the same day. Lipstick can help hide the initial bruising and swelling that might occur too. Some patients prefer to avoid make-up the first day and use a lip balm instead to keep the lips moist.

4. Plastic surgeons customize lip injections
Cosmetic treatments are tailored to patient preference and lip anatomy. Many patients want both upper and lower lips filled, while some just the one or the other. Plastic surgeons typically charge by the material (i.e. Restylane, Juvederm, and Belotero) and volume of filler (i.e number of syringes), not how the lip is injected, so let them know if you want to focus on certain areas.

5. Lumps and nodules generally resolve by a couple of weeks
Lumps and nodules can occur after lip injections with many of the facial fillers, including the newer fillers. These irregularities are normally due to bruising and swelling, which resolve with time.

6. Light kissing is OK immediately, while heavy kissing is OK after a couple of days
“When can I kiss?” is frequently asked by our Washington DC lip injection patients. We’ve reviewed kissing after lip injection in a previous blog post. You can lightly kiss your loved ones right away!

7. Plastic surgeons can erase hyaluronic acid fillers, but not other lip injection fillers
Hyaluronic acid is normally found in the skin, and it’s naturally broken down by the skin’s enzyme hyaluronidase. This enzyme, hyaluronidase, is also available as an injection. One of the benefits of hyaluronic acid fillers is that we can dissolve the filler. Other fillers cannot, however, be erased.

8. Cold sores can erupt, especially if you have history of cold sores
Any stress (physical, emotional, etc) can contribute to cold sores. Needle injection itself can also trigger cold sore eruption. Normally these are self-limited, but you can take medication as needed if you have strong history of cold sores.

9. Results are temporary with lip injections
Results last approximately 6 months, give or take. Your body gradually dissolves the hyaluronic acid once it’s injected. Patients who are very thin or very athletic might notice the filler dissolving a little faster.

10. Exercise can generally be resumed the following day
Any activity that increase the heart rate, blood pressure, or blood flow can increase bruising. Heavy activities include exercise and sex. The risk of bruising drops significantly the next day, while some patients prefer to wait two days before resuming heavy activity.

11. Lip injections can have minimal downtime
Bonus info for reading all the way to the end! Treatment takes about 20 minutes and patients return to essentially normal life afterward. Just don’t make any major plans for at least a couple of days after lip injections, just in case you need a little extra recovery time.

Have you considered lip injections or enhancement? The patient above had Juvederm lip injection by Dr. Chaboki and loves the natural look and feel of her lips. Share your thoughts below.

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    Houtan Chaboki, M.D.