Whether you realize it or not, you probably know someone who has had lip injections. “Filler” — a word once whispered as if it were a confession — is shedding its stigma. Recently, it has found its way into brunchtime chatter, social media posts, and countless other communication channels. Perhaps this cultural candor is why, in 2018, soft tissue dermal filler was the second most common minimally invasive aesthetic treatment. (Injectable wrinkle reducers earned first place). The actual numbers, though, might just blow you away: almost 2.7 million filler procedures took place in those 365 days, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (For context, that number is nearly equivalent to the entire population of Chicago.)
Many of those 2.7 million filler procedures were lip injections. But despite the treatment’s rise in popularity, there are still plenty of questions: What are lip injections made of? Does the procedure hurt? Will people be able to tell if I’ve had my lips injected? Below, we asked two dermatologists for clear-cut answers to these fundamental questions.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. 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, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]
Lip Injection Question 1: What, exactly, are lip injections?
It’s a basic question, but it’s important to understand lip filler’s uses — as well as its limitations. Let’s break it down: Lip injections, or lip fillers, are an injectable substance that adds temporary volume to the lips. Ultimately, the purpose of lip injections is to add plumpness — either to compensate for age-related volume loss, or simply to enhance lips that are on the thinner side to begin with.
According to Caren Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco, lip injections can be placed in various areas of the lip. These areas include the cupid’s bow, the vermillion border (the area between the skin and pink part of the lip), and the body of the lip (the pink part). Where your provider places the filler depends on the desired aesthetic results, as well as your specific lip shape.
Lip Injection Question 2: What are lip injections made from?
The star ingredient in most lip injections is a substance your body produces on its own. It’s called hyaluronic acid (HA), and it’s a sugar compound that holds 1000x its weight in water. In the human body, HA is responsible for making skin (and lips) look plump; as we age, it depletes over time (hence age-related volume loss).
Lip Injection Question 5: Be honest — will lip injections hurt?
In all honesty: The answer to this question varies from person to person! It is an injection, so you may experience an initial stinging sensation. Your injector will usually apply a topical anesthetic to reduce discomfort. Some fillers also contain an anesthetic called lidocaine, which can help quell the sting. Additionally, some injectors are well-versed in pain distraction techniques (read about them here).
Post-injection, you may experience temporary swelling and/or bruising at the injection site. (Read one woman’s first hand experience with lip injections, including how it felt to her.)
Lip Injection Question 6: Do lip injection results look obvious?
Permitting you’ve enlisted a licensed provider, your lip injections should only be obvious if you’ve specifically requested them to look obvious. In reality, lip injection results can be so subtle, it’s not uncommon for them to go virtually unnoticed — even by friends and family. Heck, you may be surprised by how many people have had the treatment unbeknownst to you!
If you do prefer dramatic lip volume, look for a provider who excels at that kind of work. And, as always, be sure to discuss your aesthetic goals during your consultation. (Read more on how to set yourself up for the lip injection results you want.)
Lip Injection Question 7: How much do lip injections cost?
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Fillers can be an investment. Generally, you can expect to pay roughly $600 to $1,000. This cost ultimately depends on who your provider is, their level of expertise, and where you live. That said, steer clear of deeply discounted lip injection treatments: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Lip Injection Question 8: How can I find a qualified lip injector?
As with any aesthetic treatment, it’s critical to go to a licensed provider. “Good products can look terrible in the hands of a bad injector,” says Dr. Campbell.
Also, seek someone who does a lot of lip injections and whose aesthetic approach vibes with your own. Check out the provider’s website, thumb through their Instagram® feed, read their online reviews, and request to see before and after images during your consultation. You can also consult with our team of trained aesthetic specialists who can help you find a licensed provider in your area. Happy plumping!