What I Learned From Getting Lip Fillers

After getting engaged, I decided to go on a beautification plan pre-wedding that included a laundry list of the regular to dos: lose 10 pounds, get regular facials, and get lip fillers for the first time.

I was born with mediocre lips; not too small, not too big. But after years of sun-damage, a few (maybe more than a few) cigarettes while imbibing, and general aging, my once palatable medium lips had deflated and lost their youthfulness. I decided getting lip fillers would be part of my pre-wedding prep.

Per my doctor’s recommendation, I opted to try Juvederm Ultra XC. A temporary lip filler made of hyaluronic acid; a naturally occurring polysaccharide (carbohydrate) “found in large amounts in the spaces between skin cells, where it provides moisture, plumpness, firmness and suppleness to the skin,” explains Arielle Kauvar, M.D., Director of New York Laser and Skin Care.

The day of my appointment, my nerves had the best of me. I started freaking out. The nurse applied numbing cream and I began to recall, to my chagrin, every botched plastic surgery horror story I had ever seen on tv. My heart was pounding. My armpits were sweaty. But when the doctor strolled into the room, I somehow collected myself, applied a stiff upper lip and grinned through the experience.

There was pain during the injections, swelling, redness and some minimal bruising, but nothing unbearable. Leaving the doctor’s office it looked like a bee stung my lips.

Over the next couple of days, I hid out at home as my lips swelled even more. It wasn’t until day five the swelling finally came down. I found myself giddy with joy. My lips looked AMAZING. Every reflective surface was a chance for my vanity to gush over my new full pout and for my now husband to roll his eyes.

Since then, I’ve continued with Juvederm, tried Restylane and Belotero, also hyaluronic acid fillers, and learned a lot through each trial and tribulation.

Currently, Juvederm Ultra XC and Restylane Silk are my two preferred temporary lip fillers, when used together. I like Juvederm injected into the body of my lips to increase overall fullness, and Restylane Silk used on the vermillion border and cupid’s bow for soft rolling of the lip edge and definition.

Dr. Jamie S. Schwartz, a board certified plastic surgeon, at Beverly Hills Body Institute in Los Angeles, California, explains why some fillers last longer than others.

“Hyaluronic acid used in dermal fillers, are mostly created from bacteria fermentation and cross linked. The linkages between molecules are both natural and synthetic.

“Hyaluronidase, a natural enzyme in the body breaks down natural links faster than synthetic links and hyaluronic acids with the least links breakdown the fastest. Those with the greatest number of links are stiffer and last the longest.

“Belotero and Restylane Silk have the least amount of linkage providing the shortest duration. They are best used for delicate areas – fines lines, lips, peri oral rhytides, and tear troughs (under eyes). Restylane and Juvederm come next. Followed by Perlane (now called Restylane Lyft), Juvederm Ultra Plus and Voluma.”

Since Restylane Silk has less linkages, the gel itself isn’t as thick as Juvederm and creates a very natural edge when used in the vermillion border; a canal link tube that runs the perimeter of your lips. Filler is injected into this canal at specific points and then moved along the tube by hand.  Juvederm can be used in this area instead, but as I’ve experienced, it can create too much rolling of the lip edge. Resulting in the overdone “duck face” look.

So you’ve decided to get lip fillers …now what?
Start researching reputable dermatologists and plastic surgeons in your area. When it comes to lips, the more experience (i.e. practice) a physician has had, the more likely they are to give you the results you want. Ask to see before and after photos of their work. Talk through the desired look you want to achieve and discuss what to expect, risks and side effects.

Costs & tips for saving money…
You never want to bargain hunt when it comes to getting lip fillers! Finding a reputable doctor you feel comfortable with is paramount. Most places charge by the syringe, ranging from $500-850 per 1.0 oz. But if you know that you only want a little plumping and won’t need a full syringe, there is the option to purchase half syringes – .5 oz ranging from $250-400. (Not all manufacturers offer half syringes. My experience with this was with Juvederm half syringes). Most doctors want you to purchase a full syringe and won’t advertise half syringes, but it’s something you can bring up in your consultation. Allergen, the company that manufactures Juvederm XC, does have half syringes they can provide doctors, per their request.

How to mitigate side effects such as swelling and bruising
– Make sure to avoid taking any aspirin, Tylenol, or pain medication 48 hours prior to injections to avoid excessive bleeding or bruising

– Post injections for 3-4 days, sleep propped up by pillows

– Apply Arnica gel to your lips, gently massaging the product in, an hour pre-injection. Continue to reapply this product every hour after having your lips done. I do this every time I go in for filler and my swelling and bruising is always minimal. One time I had a large dark bruise on my lower lip that completely disappeared after 5 days of constant application. I swear by Arnica gel.

– Avoid kissing, vigorous exercise, saunas and steam rooms for 48 hours

But maybe you’re not ready to make the leap to fillers and just want to improve the lips you already have? Then check out this article on achieving smooth, plump lips without the filler.

Disclaimer: Any information in the publications, messages, postings or articles on the website should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon to address individual medical needs. Your particular facts and circumstances will determine the treatment which is most appropriate for you. And the outcomes. 

-by Amy Chang