If it seems like lip injections are the aesthetic treatment du jour, it’s not your imagination. From countless pouty selfies on your Instagram® feed to incessant speculation about whether a celebrity has or hasn’t had their lips treated, the popularity of lip injections is certainly on the rise.
[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.]
In fact, 2.7 million injectable filler treatments were performed in 2017, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) — and oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Steven Fagien of Boca Raton, Florida, can attest to an influx in patients looking to plump their pouts. “The beauty of injectable lip fillers is that they provide instant [volume],” he explains, adding that lip enhancement is appropriate only for candidates over the age of 21.
You may think fillers are only used to increase fullness, but these injectable treatments can help improve other lip concerns as well. Dr. Fagien explains that by plumping the area with fillers, you may also be able to smooth out the appearance of moderate to severe lip lines. This is exactly what prompted me to pay him a visit for my first lip injections at the age of 41.
The Pre-Treatment Chat
As with any cosmetic treatment or procedure, it’s important to make sure that doctor and patient are on the same page, so to speak. Upon sitting down with Dr. Fagien, he asked what my goals for my lips were, and what I was hoping to achieve. I showed him the crinkling on of my lip border, and told him that I didn’t like how my lips looked deflated. He explained that filler could help, and that injecting some in my lips may help smooth the wrinkling there as well. This all sounded great to me, so off to the treatment room we went.
After I washed my face, a series of photos were taken from different angles, and then the numbing process began. Applying a topical numbing cream is a common protocol for patient comfort. That said, I recommend talking to your provider about your options. I say this because you might not find lip injections to be all that comfortable, despite the various tools used to reduce pain along the way.
Once I was sufficiently numb — and embarrassed to speak because I felt like I had no control over my lips and they were flapping all over the place — Dr. Fagien used a surgical pen to mark the areas where he would be injecting. He then unboxed a syringe and asked if I was ready, which of course I was.
The treatment involved several injections in different areas and, despite my numbness, I definitely felt a pinch and pressure with each one. After Dr. Fagien finished treating a spot, he’d ask me to hold a gauze pad firmly on the injection site. He moved on to the next injection, but not before stepping back to assess between each one. In my case, he did this a total of about 10 times to make sure the filler placement was even, adding a little more here and there as needed to get the optimal end results.
My lip injections took roughly 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Once Dr. Fagien was done, I was truthfully a little nervous to look in the mirror since my lips felt huge. I had mentally prepared myself for swelling and possible bruising, so I was shocked when my lips didn’t look drastically different. In fact, I loved how they looked, and the first thing I thought was, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Before I left the office, Dr. Fagien made sure to emphasize that my lips were indeed swollen — and that they would get a bit smaller over the following day or two. He also shared that a lot of first-timers come back the second time wanting their end-result to look like their lips did immediately after their initial injections. (After a few days, I kind of agreed, but was still happy nonetheless.)
The numbness lasted for a few hours, but I didn’t think twice about running a few errands on my way home. (I will admit, drinking water was a bit of a challenge at first.) When the anesthetic wore off, my mouth was definitely sore, and any sudden pursing hurt more than anything I felt at the time of the actual lip injections. I was very careful when eating for the first time after my appointment — not only because of the discomfort, but because I wasn’t yet spatially aware of my treated lips, and was worried they might get in the way.
Because I hadn’t really had an idea of what to expect, I had actually warned my 10-year-old son that I might look a little funny when I picked him up from school — just in case I was bruised or really swollen. When he got into the car, he looked at me and said, “You don’t look jacked up at all.” Truth be told, my husband didn’t even notice anything was different when he got home from work — despite the fact that I told him I was getting my lips injected that day. However, he did notice when I put on lip gloss and started pouting at him. His response: "As long as you’re happy." (He’s not really into the whole aesthetic treatment thing.)
The next day, my lips were still a bit tender, but I had no bruising. (That said, your own experience may vary.) The soreness lingered through Sunday — my treatment was Friday — but by the end of the weekend, my lips felt like my own again. I was so thrilled with the results that I couldn’t stop looking at them in the mirror, and all I wanted was to wear a super-shiny clear lip gloss to draw more attention to them.
Even if other people haven’t noticed the change (after all, subtle-looking results were what I wanted), I couldn’t be happier with the results. It’s been one month since my treatment, and I’m still loving my lips. I’ve found that I have to apply my lip gloss a bit differently so it goes all the way up to my cupid’s bow — which is fine by me! I can occasionally feel the filler slightly if I press my lips together in certain ways, but the sensation is just odd more than anything.
If you’ve been thinking about getting lip injections, I’d say go for a consultation. (Consult with our team of trained aesthetic specialists to find a licensed provider near you.) Just remember to schedule your appointment carefully if you’re trying to time your lip injections for a major event. And, while you’re at it, go ahead and treat yourself to a shiny new lip gloss, too!
Dr. Steven Fagien is a paid Allergan® consultant.