The Lowdown on Lip Filler (and 3 Myths Debunked!)
It seems like everywhere you turn these days; people are talking about lip filler – from medspa ads to celebrity recommendations. Injectable lip filler, which adds volume to thinner lips, is a popular aesthetic procedure primarily because of its minimal downtime and relatively low cost while offering stunning results. But what is lip filler? Should you get it? And what can you expect from a lip filler procedure? Not to worry – our handy guide will tell you everything you need to know!
What Are the Different Types of Lip Fillers?
If you’re considering an injectable cosmetic procedure, it’s only natural to wonder what substances will go into your lips. Most lip fillers are made from a synthetic form of hyaluronic acid (HA), which occurs naturally in the body. The filler comes in gel form; when injected into lips, it increases their size and creates a more youthful appearance.
Lip fillers made from bovine (cow) collagen were also available in past decades. However, since collagen lip fillers don’t provide much volume – and don’t last very long – most medical professionals don’t offer them anymore. There are also surgical procedures to enhance lips, such as fat grafting and lip implants; however, these are much less common than HA fillers.
Which Brands of Lip Fillers Are Best?
Just as everyone’s body is different, the best lip filler for you will depend on many factors, including the look you want to achieve, the issues you want to solve, and how long you want the filler to last. Your dermatologist can recommend the type of lip filler you should use.
Some brands of hyaluronic acid lip filler include:
- Restylane: Restylane offers many types of dermal fillers, including lip fillers. Restylane-L is suitable for injection in many areas on the face, including the lips, and contains lidocaine, so the injection doesn’t hurt as much. Restylane Kysse, especially for lips, can add fullness, improve color, and create a natural-looking result. Restylane Silk, meanwhile, can provide volume and fill in fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth.
- Juvederm: Juvederm offers several different lip fillers as well. One is Juvederm Volbella, which is good for adding subtle volume and reducing the appearance of vertical lines above the lips. Juvederm Vollure can be used for natural-looking volume as well. Juvederm Ultra XC is for those who want a more dramatic and longer-lasting change in their lips.
- Belotero has several lip fillers with varying indications. Belotero Balance is suitable for moderate lines around the lips. Other kinds of Belotero products exist, including Belotero Intense and Belotero Volume, but they are not yet approved for sale in the U.S.
How Is Lip Filler Administered?
HA lip filler injections are in-office treatments and can typically be done in less than an hour. To begin, your doctor may apply a numbing agent with a needle or topical to minimize discomfort. Then, they will mark the target areas of your lips and carefully inject the filler. The area that is injected depends on the look you are trying to achieve; for general augmentation, it will likely be the thickest part of your lips (known as the vermilion).
After the procedure, you may gently administer ice to the area to help with soreness. However, no pressure should be applied to the lips. You should also avoid vigorous or heated exercise, like running or hot yoga, for 24 to 48 hours afterward. Do not use lip products for at least a day after your filler injection, and try not to sleep on your face or use straws to drink during that time.
What Are the Risks of Lip Filler?
Though overwhelmingly safe for most people, HA lip filler injections carry some minor risks. You should NOT get lip filler if you:
- Have an active infection near the injection site
- Have a known allergy or sensitivity to any of the ingredients in the filler (including lidocaine, if the filler includes it)
Lip filler procedures also carry the risk of other side effects including:
- Bruising, swelling, or bleeding near the injection site
- Lip asymmetry (where one lip is larger than the other)
- Lumps in the lips
- Scarring or ulceration of the lip
- Allergic reactions (swelling, itchy sensations, or redness around the lips)
If you experience any of these side effects, contact your dermatologist immediately. You can minimize side effects by ensuring you only get injections from a healthcare provider with experience performing filler procedures. You should avoid any place that advertises “needle-free” fillers; these devices use intense pressure to inject filler into the face and often cause injuries. Needle-free fillers have been associated with scarring, necrosis (tissue death), blocked blood vessels, infection, and more.
No Lip Service: 3 Lip Filler Myths Debunked
While there’s plenty to be cautious about when considering a lip filler procedure, some warnings are overhyped or simply false. Here are three of the most common myths – and the truths behind them.
Myth #1: Lip filler will make my lips look puffy and fake.
Truth: Not necessarily. While we’ve all seen the “duck lips” look on certain celebrities, most patients experience excellent results from lip filler procedures. Most results are so natural that it’s tough to tell who’s had filler and who hasn’t! Working with a healthcare provider with lots of lip filler experience is critical. Before the procedure, tell them you’re looking for a subtle, natural result – and odds are, you’ll walk out happy.
Myth #2: Lip filler requires frequent touch-ups.
Truth: There are no permanent hyaluronic acid lip fillers. However, for standard treatments, you shouldn’t need to go back to your doctor much more than twice a year for touch-ups. For instance, Juvederm Volbella and Ultra XC can last up to a year, while Restylane Silk can be effective for up to six months. Everyone’s metabolism is different, however, and your results may not last quite that long. But lip filler shouldn’t be a monthly chore.
Myth #3: Lip filler will permanently stretch my lips.
Truth: HA lip filler injections should not have any long-term effect on your lips if appropriately performed. Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in the body and will be slowly absorbed in the months following your procedure, resulting in the same lips you had before. In the unlikely case that you aren’t happy with the results, your doctor can reverse them by injecting hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down HA. After the injection, your lips should return to their standard size in a few days.