If you’ve ever dabbled with those tingly lip-plumping glosses or used lip liner to “overline” your lips, chances are you’ve considered injectable lip filler, a substance that can temporarily restore volume. Not only can lip filler create a plush pout, but a good injector can do so with natural-looking results (no irritating gloss or liner required.)
[Editor’s note: Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, it has potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetic specialists now.]
That said, it’s important to remember that lip filler is still a medical procedure. As with any medical procedure, it’s smart to do your diligence before heading in. Be sure to check out some of the most common potential risks here. “Ask all your questions and be informed!” urges dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC, “and be honest about your fears.” Go ahead — use those lips to speak up. Below, the most vital questions to ask your provider before getting lip filler.
Are you trained to do this?
Here’s a scary thought: “Many, many people are attempting to perform filler and cosmetic procedures that they weren’t sufficiently trained to do — and there’s nothing illegal about it,” Nazarian warns. To ensure you’re seeing someone who knows how to inject lips, ask them point blank. Where did they train? How did they become an injector? Additionally, it’s fair game — and within your rights — to ask to see their certifications. Another, more casual way to get a sense of their experience is to ask how many times they’ve injected lips. Looking for an aesthetic provider? Chat with a trained aesthetic specialist now.
Will it hurt?
Our lips contain thousands of nerve endings, so it would make sense that sticking anything sharp near them could cause discomfort (think about the last time you accidentally bit your lip!) Luckily, most — if not all — providers offer high-strength topical numbing cream, which renders the whole experience tolerable by most people’s standards. What’s more, “most fillers are now mixed with anesthetic which also curbs discomfort during the procedure,” Nazarian adds. Bottom line: pain should not be a deterrent!
What product are you using?
“There are many options for filler that may give a fuller appearance, a smoother appearance, or even last longer,” Nazarian says. “Ask about the product choice and what makes it ideal for your cosmetic goals.” A good provider should be able to rattle off the properties, benefits, and risks of the particular product they’re injecting into your lips.
What will you change about the shape?
“There are many ways to inject lip filler, and many aspects of the lip that can be altered: it can look fuller, wider, or upturned,” Nazarian explains. Consequently, she recommends asking your injector how the shape itself will change, in addition to how much larger your lips will appear. After all, “changing the size and shape of the lips can alter your entire appearance,” she notes. In the same way you’d bring in images to a hair salon, feel free to bring in photos of lips you admire. While a doc can’t necessarily give you Angelina Jolie’s lips, it can give them an idea of the shape you’re after.
What should I expect in terms of recovery?
Generally, filling the lips only takes a few minutes, but potential side effects (if they happen) can last for days after you leave the injector’s chair. “Some of the fillers are more likely to cause temporary swelling, puffiness or take longer to recover from,” Nazarian notes. “Ask what’s normal for the next day, and when you should expect to be fully recovered.”
Inquiring about the recovery process limits the risk of waking up with an unexpected surprise (and potentially having to cancel plans!). NYC-based dermatologist and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, adds that you should plan to hold off on big events until two weeks post-lip filler. “Not uncommonly, I do prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication to my patients who experience significant swelling of the lips and are uncomfortable,” he assures. After all, most things — including lips — can heal with time and a little bit of TLC!