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21 Things You Should Know Before Getting Lip Injections

Cosmopolitan logo Cosmopolitan 3/20/2019 Brooke Shunatona
a person wearing glasses and looking at the camera: This trusted dermatologists shares her insider tips on what you should know before getting lip injections. © Instagram This trusted dermatologists shares her insider tips on what you should know before getting lip injections.

Thinking about getting a fuller set of lips compared to the one your momma gave you? Shereene Idriss, MD, board certified cosmetic dermatologist, share their insider tips on what you should know before getting lip injections.

a person with collar shirt: 21 Things to Know Before Getting Lip Injections © Getty Images 21 Things to Know Before Getting Lip Injections

1. Temporary filler 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. The better option is a temporary hyaluronic acid (HA) filler. If you're thinking, "Wait, that stuff in my serum?" Yup. It's a sugar derivative that your body makes and has the ability to hold up to 1,000 times it's own weight in water. For that reason, it's a great hydrating ingredient for skincare as well as a great substance for injectables. It's also preferred for its more natural look and ability to dissolve over time or with the help of hyaluronidase...

2. You can remove temporary fillers with an eraser enzyme.

The beauty of temporary filler is if you don't like how your lips turn out for whatever reason, your doctor can inject an eraser enzyme called hyaluronidase to break up the particles and accelerate the rate at which the fillers break down. 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 to totally go down as well as any swelling. Oh, and beware: it hurts like a ___.

3. The result you get is based on both the type of filler and how the doctor uses it.

Like an artist with paint, every doctor has a favorite formula they like to use. As Dr. Idriss explains it, "Think of HA fillers almost like a paintbrush. You can have somebody who can create a Monet type of painting or a Van Gogh. It’s the technique they use with that filler that creates the lift, volume, and final result." Dr. Idriss prefers to use Restylane in her older patients 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 that oomph and volume. All that to say, when choosing your doctor, consider their aesthetic as an important part of the decision.

4. Do careful research when choosing your physician.

To avoid a botched job, you should only see a professional, such as a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or nurse practitioner who is highly experienced in this specific procedure. Ask to see pictures of what that provider has done, and also look at the staff. Dr. Idriss says the staff can be the best litmus test of the doctor's work, because they've likely been worked on.

5. It can cost anywhere from $550 to $2,000.

The price depends on the type of filler, the amount of filler, the physician, and the region you live in. Either way, start saving your pennies, and don't cheap out.

6. Don't expect to get hugely pump lips in one sitting, if ever.

Expect to increase the size gradually over time for the most natural results. Since there’s a lot of swelling involved that can distort the shape, you don't want your doctor to shoot a bunch of products all at once. And, to get the most natural results, your lips need time to adapt to the newly placed volume.

Dr. Idriss says the most she'll inject in one session is one syringe, which gives a nice increase in volume with a noticeable difference, depending on how it’s done. "As you do this procedure over and over, you forget where you were at baseline," Dr. Idriss says. "So you have to find a physician that’s going to keep you in check because you don’t want to go overboard and start looking really ducky or inflated."

7. HA fillers last about six months.

But it might last a few months longer for some, or dissolve quicker in others. How long your lips stay plump and how quickly it breaks down really depends on your own body's metabolism.

8. Avoid any blood thinners before your treatment.

Thinner blood will make the area more prone to bruising and bleeding, so 10 days prior, stop taking painkillers (except Tylenol), fish oil, and vitamin E. And as much as you would like to calm your nerves with a glass of wine, resist the urge to drink alcohol before your appointment.

9. Anyone who has a history of cold sores should take prevention medication two days before the procedure.

Injections could trigger a cold sore.

10. You can choose to have your lips numbed beforehand.

The doctor can numb the area around your lips with a dental nerve block (an injection into your gums just like a dentist would before a procedure) 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 kind of the shape for a couple hours," she says. "To get the most in line aesthetic with your look, I’d rather see your natural movement."

11. It feels like a poke, then a tingling pressure.

Once they’re injected, you should feel a dull kind of throbbing, but it shouldn’t be extremely painful if you're numbed up. Afterward, the doctor will massage your lips a little, ice them for 10 minutes, and then let you go about your day.

12. You don't have to go all out. You can choose which areas of your lips you'd like the focus to be.

Whether you want to do both lips, just the bottom lip, or the middle of the top lip, you can plump wherever you and your doctor decide will best complement the rest of your facial features.

13. You will see the results almost immediately.

Your lips will be a little swollen at first, but you'll see the effects of the fillers pretty quickly. You can take an antihistamine, or Dr. Idriss will give her patients a small steroid dose to help with the swelling for the first 24 hours. Most of the swelling will subside in a day, but you'll need a good three to five days for them to fully settle.

14. Some slight bruising and bleeding at the site of injection is normal and expected.

Dr. Idriss recommends her patients start using an oral or use a topical Arnica a couple days before and after in order to reduce post-filler bruising and inflammation, but also notes that patients who have had blood clots or take blood thinners should not use the oral form. The bruises should fade after five to seven days, but your doctor could also use a vascular laser to make it disappear faster.

15. There's practically zero downtime.

The procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes total and the numbing will start to wear off after about 30 minutes. You can go about your daily life afterward but shouldn't make any big plans (like a wedding or an important event) for at least three days in case you bruise.

16. You shouldn't exercise for 24 hours after the procedure.

You especially should avoid activities that increase blood flow to your face, like getting a massage or a facial or doing headstands (all you yogis), which could add to the swelling.

17. If done correctly, lips with injections don't feel any different than real lips.

Not even when you're kissing.

18. Though, you might have some lumps and bumps.

"Depending on someone’s lips and their size, if they’re extremely small and you’re trying to volumize them, the risk of having a lump or a bump might be a little bit higher," Dr. Idriss says. "If they’re completely on the superficial aspect of your lip, the exterior portion of your lip, it’s more likely poor injection technique." As long as they're not visible when you're smiling or talking, it's not a big deal.

19. Be aware that certain types of fillers can migrate.

Depending on the properties of the hyaluronic acid fillers, some tend to diffuse more than others. When they’re placed excessively in a very refined area, it can diffuse into the upper cutaneous lip (the skin area above your lip), create that fuller upper lip look (you know the one). It all goes back to the doctor you choose and the product they prefer, so choose carefully.

20. If you eventually decide to stop getting injections, your lips will return to their original state.

Contrary to what you might think, your lips will not turn into saggy, wrinkly skin bags. However, Dr. Idriss says injecting your lips indirectly stimulates your own collagen production because of the trauma by the needle, so your lips could naturally remain a bit larger, thanks to the previous injections.

21. Understand that lip injections are invasive procedures with risks.

Dr. Idriss says although it is a "lunchtime" procedure, the patient needs to consider possible serious risks, such as vascular occlusion, before making the final decision to go through with it.

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