So in a diary you?re supposed to be completely honest. Even though this “diary” is something that is going to be shared on the inter-webs, patients ask about lip injections ALL the time and if my experiences can be of help to someone else, than I?m happy to share. Please don?t judge.
I?ve been getting Botox injections since I was 27, and filler since I was 30. I LOVED the effect of Botox (and later Dysport), and because of extraneous health-issues that lead to premature facial wasting — I have been very happy with the effects of dermal-filler to help my face remain as symmetrical and age appropriate as possible. (I?m now almost 35.)
With alllllll of my many injections, I?ve tried to keep things very natural looking; smooth forehead, fuller cheeks and temples. Even though there are a million things I could criticize and scrutinize about myself (we are always our own worst enemy) ? for some reason my lips never bothered me.
And then Kylie happened.
Not to say that all of a sudden I craved humongous lips, but after seeing a huge uptick in lip-injection patients coming through our doors, and the beautiful effects that could be achieved from a 5-minute procedure — I started to get a little curious.
As you can see, my natural-born lips are pretty average; not too big, not too small. What would I look like if they were a little plumper? What would they feel like? Would I wear more lipstick? Would I feel more confident?
It was time to find out.
Full-disclosure: 3-days prior to this I had a suspicious spot removed from my bottom lip that needed to be tested for skin-cancer. (Why were you so stupid about tanning, Younger Self?!!) The results came back negative (thankfully!!), but in the meantime I was left with a nasty scab on my mouth for about a week. Perhaps this was not the ideal time to experiment with lip injections, but once I had it in my head that I wanted to try it, I WANTED TO TRY IT. Plus, I figured I might as well go through any “downtime” all at once; my biopsy scab could heal at the same time my lips recovered from the filler injections.
After having every laser treatment in the book, chemical peels galore, and more needle-pricks than a pin-cushion, I assumed that any discomfort associated with lip injections would be negligible.
I was tough, I could handle it.
I was SO wrong!
Most dermal-fillers are pre-formulated with lidocaine so that seconds after your first injection, the area is numbed automatically. Sarah, our injector extraordinaire, warned me that lip injections hurt, and recommended that I apply a topical numbing cream for at least 20-minutes prior to treatment. However, I?m often stubborn to a fault, and after seeing so many other patients have their lips enhanced without numbing cream, I thought I didn?t need it either.
Since I didn?t use numbing cream, Sarah had me hold some ice-packs against my lips for a few seconds to help naturally numb the area before any injections, but I was ready. I took a deep breath, she made the first injection, and?.
GOOD LORD THIS HURT!!!
In order to have lips come out looking natural, teeny amounts of filler are deposited all throughout the lips. I was truly hoping this procedure was going to be only a couple of injections (just to get over with as quickly as possible!), but to treat me properly I needed something like 20-little injections — and each one hurt more than the last. I tried so hard to be brave, but the tears silently streaming down my face gave away how uncomfortable this was. (Apparently I am nowhere near as tough as I think I am.)
When Sarah was about 70% through with 1-vial of Restylane Silk, I had to have her stop because I couldn?t take anymore.
Considering I was injected at least 20 times during this treatment, the fact that I only had 2-bruises seems somewhat miraculous.
Sarah told me to ice my lips as much as I could for the rest of the day to help prevent the bruises from getting worse, and also to help prevent swelling. After finding out the hard way that she was right about everything else, I would have actually followed her instructions on this one. However, because I was at work it was hard to talk to people, respond to emails, and do the myriad of other tasks that need my attention while holding ice against my mouth.
For the rest of the day my lips felt tingly from the numbing agent in the filler, but I felt fine, and thought I looked fine.
Night of treatment:
When I got home from work, approximately 6-hours after injections, I thought that my lips looked relatively normal. (My fianc? noticed right away, but more on that below.) Over the course of the next few hours however, my lips started to throb and every time I looked in the mirror they seemed to be growing.
I KNOW that lips swell, so in order to help curb that I popped a few Aleve and held a bag of frozen veggies to my lips for about an hour.
When I went to bed, I followed all the advice we give our injectable patients to help prevent swelling:
- Sleep with an extra pillow — the added elevation will prevent fluids from pooling in the face.
- Try to not sleep on the injection site. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I am a restless sleeper and sometimes snoozing with my face smashed into the pillow feels like the perfect position. This night my lips were too sore to allow me to lie like this, but I did try to stay flat on my back as much as I could.
Day After Lip Injections:
Despite my best anti-swelling/bruising efforts — the next morning I still woke up with super-swollen lips. (What would they have looked like if I had done nothing preventative?! I shudder to think.) My lips were huge, sore, bruised, and scabbed from the lip-biopsy. (I?m really doing a great job selling this treatment, huh?) There was nothing to do about it at this point, so I just went with it and tried to apply a dark lip-color to cancel out the bruises.
Fortunately, the bruising was mostly on the inside of my lips, so with my mouth closed you could barely see anything. (Sorry for the blurry pictures, everything was taken on my cell-phone!)
2-Days After Lip Injections:
Still swollen, still bruised, but definitely getting better.
It was actually helpful to have these lips at the office. When patients would inquire about lip treatments, I would present myself ? ?Look! I just had lip-injections 2-days ago, and this is what I look like.? By seeing what I looked like, it helped others get a gauge for what they could expect.
3-Days After Lip Injections:
I started sprouting black fur all over my body!
Just kidding. (Came across this picture while culling for lip photos and couldn?t resist including my fur-baby.)
There are still some residual signs of the injections, but if anything the scab from the biopsy is the most noticeable.
4-Days After Lip Injections:
It appears this is when I stopped taking daily photos, which makes me believe that this was when the bruising and swelling was gone. (The only reason I would not have taken a picture would be if there was nothing to document.)
5-days After Lip Injections:
Bruises are gone, swelling is gone, just in time for my friends? wedding! No one commented, so I assumed the goal was accomplished: subtle lip improvement.
1-week After Lip Injections:
The initial discomfort couldn?t have been that bad because I was already down to use up the remaining product. This time I wasn?t so cocky, and I applied the numbing-cream almost an hour before go-time. It made a world of difference! I could still feel the injections, but they were at least tolerable now.
There was only about 30% of the vial left for my ?touch up?, and at this point I can?t even remember if I got swollen or not ? which makes me think I didn?t. (If my lips had blown-up a second time, I think I would remember.)
My fianc? also noticed this time. ?You got more lip injections?!? he asked incredulously, rolling his eyes.
Sometimes dudes just don?t understand.
?You don?t understand!” I protested, “It was just the remaining product from my 1st vial!?
He, of the minimalist-self-maintenance routine, was still scratching his head over this, but in all honesty — he doesn?t get why anybody does anything to themselves, ever. SMDH.
Now; 5-months After Lip Injections:
No more bruising, no more biopsy scabs, and very natural looking results.
So, did lip injections make me feel more confident?
Like any good thing (at least for me), it’s so easy to get spoiled and take it for granted. For the first few dress-up occasions I had after the lip-injections, I definitely felt empowered to go bolder with my lip-makeup.
But on a day-to-day basis? I liked that my lips looked better without me having to do anything to them, but not worrying about my lips left me time to instead fret about my eyelashes (have they reached their peak Latisse results?!) and my split-ends (is it time for a trim?!). Being a girl can lead to endless self-criticisms, but I will say that overall having improved lips did make me feel better. On those lazy days where I all I did was wash my face and throw on sunscreen before running out the door, I felt instantly more put-together having a plumper-pout.
Did I wear lipstick more often?
Immediately after the treatment, I definitely was into playing around with all of my lip colors. As a subscriber to Ipsy, Birch Box, Glam Box, and a few other monthly cosmetic delivery services, I have amassed quite a collection of lip-products. They largely go unused because I have no idea what to do with them.
For the first few weeks — when having fuller lips was still a novelty — I tried various lip colors and products. It was fun… until I’d look in the mirror and see that there was lipstick all over my teeth, or as the day went on and I didn’t reapply, I’d end up with a pigmented ring of leftover product around my lips. Or, the most mysterious –? on a few occasions the errant lipstick splotch would find it’s way to my cheek or forehead. (It’s not easy being such a spaz.)
Playing dress-up with my lips was extra-fun in the beginning, but then I largely went back to my usual, sheer Baby-Lips products. Because my lips looked better, any lip product I used instantly looked better too.
How much filler to use to get natural looking results that don?t scream ?I?VE GOT FAKE LIPS??
To newbies, one vial of dermal filler for the lips sounds like SO much product.
Everyone interested in lips comes in and says they want natural looking results. (Ironically, even when they?re inspired by Kylie.) Want to look like Lisa Rinna? NO. Any of the “Real House-Wives”? NOOO.
Since I?ve had dermal-filler in other parts of my face, I wasn?t concerned about quantity ? I know how quickly 1mL-vial of product can go, and how much product is needed to make major changes. (A LOT.) It?s not unusual for patients to get 2-vials of filler in their lips, and they still look natural.
1mL-vial of dermal filler is equivalent to 1/8th of a teaspoon. When spread out through the entire mouth, one vial will give you a nice improvement, but I promise you will not look clownish.
Additionally, the skill of the injector is paramount.
To us, OBVIOUS INJECTIONS = BAD INJECTIONS. There truly is an art to adding volume to any area on the face, and the end-goal should always be to have the results look organic. After 10+ years of extensive training and practice, Sarah has the gift to know how to add volume to all the right places.
How long do lip injections last?
Because the mouth is in constant motion, the product inside is broken down faster than any other injection-area on the face. Typically lip results last about 4-8 months.
I am a chronic lip-biter, which causes extra lip-abuse that breaks down the filler even more rapidly, and I?m about 5-months out from treatment. Despite it all, I still feel like there is product remaining in my lips.
How does it feel to have filler in your lips?
Before I had the treatment I thought that lip injections would feel like the other facial injections ? when you touched the treated area; the cheek or nasolabial fold, you can feel the dermal-filler inside. (The eye can?t see it, but for example when I touch my cheeks I can definitely feel the dermal-filler that’s underneath, giving structure to the skin.)
With my lips, after the initial swelling went down I couldn?t feel anything different in my lips. Weird, but perhaps because there are such small quantities placed throughout the entire mouth, it integrates better with the existing tissue. (As opposed to cheeks, where bigger quantities are deposited in each spot.)
How much do lip injections cost?
The first vial of filler is $650, and any additional vials used at the same visit are $550. (Due to the popularity of this treatment, there are occasionally specials too.)
Can someone kissing you feel the lip-filler?
I always tell my fianc? that even though he is very good-looking, he is a terrible looker. The milk can be right in front of his face in the refrigerator, and he won?t be able to find it. He is very unobservant and I thought for sure he would never notice that I had anything done to my lips, but he shocked me.
When I got home from work that day my lips weren?t that swollen, and yet the first thing he said to me was ?Did you inject your lips today?? 1 point Jeremy.
Even though he visually noticed my lips right away, the answer to the kissing question is No. I can?t feel that the product is in my lips, and he definitely can?t feel anything either.
Would I do it again?
I did like the results even though I hated the process, but I am also super-compulsive about this stuff and it is NOT out of the realm of possibility that next week I’ll change my mind and immediately need 2-vials in my lips. The treatment itself, and the after-math, are not deterrents enough to stop me from doing this again.
In my memory, the bruising and swelling were much worse than it actually was. Writing this is forcing me to revisit all of the pictures I took, and my memory of everything is 20x worse than what I actually looked like. The down-time with this treatment was really not bad, but to err on the side of caution — for the future I will always make sure that I don’t have any big events within 7-days of treatment.