These days, getting lip fillers is almost as common as getting your nails done, having your hair coloured or watching three seasons of Gossip Girl in one serving. And while we're all for doing whatever makes you feel good (go you!), it's probably worth doing some research before skipping into a clinic and getting jabbed in the face willy nilly. Mmmkay?
The most important thing is that you're well informed about exactly what you're having done, why you're having it done (you better be doing it for you. And ONLY you), and that you see an experienced professional. Cause no one wants to wind up on Botched looking like another casualty.
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So if you’re considering lip fillers for yourself, or are simply intrigued/want to have a perve as to what goes on, we cornered cosmetic injector Dr Giulia D'Anna from Dermal Distinction and asked her everything we wanted to know about lip fillers.
What are lip fillers?
Okay, first things first. What exactly are fillers? "Dermal filler is an aesthetic-based gel that is injected into an area to enhance or reshape it. They are specifically made for the enhancement of your features and the reduction of folds and wrinkles."
You know the hyaluronic acid in your serums and moisturisers? This is what dermal fillers are generally made up of - weird, right? Dr D'Anna said, "Hyaluronic acid (HA) is found in our skin and is a naturally occurring sugar chain that gives our skin plumpness and attracts water to the skin, creating hydration. However, the HA in dermal filler is made in a laboratory. HA levels in our skin do change over time, as our body changes or breaks it down with enzymes as part of our metabolic processes. Over time, this can lead to sagging of the skin and folds that never used to be there."
Okay, so why are lip fillers so dang popular?
Whether you want to blame Kylie Jenner, social media filters or those weird Tiktok challenges (it's 2020 and people are putting glue on their lips to make them look big - we'll just let that sink in for a moment), the era of big pouty lips is still very much upon us.
"Lips are a sign of youth," said Dr D'Anna. "When you think about a younger person, their lips are generally plump. As we get older, this lip tissue is lost and the lips instantly make our face look older."
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Hands up who else feels they've just always had shoelaces for lips? Cause same.
"When you think about it, every human interaction involves our lips. That is how we show emotion, how we speak and how we function. They are essential. Human communication involves glancing between the other person's lips and eyes. Lips are the centre of our being."
We're so...creepy? Love it.
"Plus, Instagram and Facebook have also made people aware of what is possible. It is a hugely popular treatment," said Dr D'Anna.
Are there different types of filler? Or am I making this up?
So what's the go? Is it just a one-size-fits-all thing? Well, no. It turns out there are many different kinds of fillers, and they all do different things for different people. "I use different lip fillers that are specific to my patients. Some patients prefer their lips to look natural and subtle, just a little more enhanced. These patients need a super soft lip filler."
"Other patients want a more exaggerated or noticeable look, and for these patients I need a thicker, stiffer filler. Then there are the patients that need some re-creation of lip structure. These are the patients that really don’t have much lip display anymore. Here, I need to use a range of different fillers, perhaps over a number of appointments to rebuild the lost lip architecture."
What do you need to do to prep before treatment?
If you're considering lip fillers, it’s important to remember that it is a REAL medical procedure with a lot of risks and consequences if performed incorrectly. So don't flake out when it comes to doing your research. Seriously.
"Definitely number one is find yourself the best cosmetic injector you can," said Dr D'Anna. "I generally recommend that you find an injector who can show you some before and after pictures of their work, so that you know that their idea of beautiful, natural-looking lips is the same as yours."
Once you know you're on the same page with what you're looking for, make sure you hit them with ALL of the questions - because you don't want to wait until it's too late to ask if they're going to use numbing cream.
"Your injector should discuss lots of information with you, such as looking at your medical history, your medication, any allergies that you might have and so on. It is also really important that you are aware of the potential risks and complications. This is a medical procedure and it should be treated as such."
What's actually involved in the procedure?
"This can vary a lot between cosmetic injectors. At my practice, I have a strict protocol because I want the best and safest outcomes for my patients," said Dr D'Anna.
Typically, an appointment will start with a face-to-face consultation, where your injector will discuss the risks of the procedure and run you through the treatment process.
Next up, your injector will usually take "photos and measurements of the face to record proportion (or lack of)." The areas to be treated are then marked out and your injector will use some numbing cream or anaesthetic so there is no discomfort.
"The procedure is then undertaken using a cannula (a device that reduces bruising and trauma to the lips). Once treatment is completed, I will give post treatment instructions (the dos and don'ts), and also take photos."
Lastly, Dr D'Anna sets up a review appointment with her patients. "This may be to assess the treatment, but we may also do additional treatment too."
Is there any downtime?
If your treatment is performed correctly, there shouldn't be a whole lot of downtime to deal with. "There is no downtime with lip filler and aftercare is pretty low key too," said Dr D'Anna. "The main event that occurs a few hours after treatment is some swelling. All my patients are made aware of this. It usually resolves after a few hours and no treatment is required."
You may need to prepare for some bruising, though. "On occasion, there can be some bruising, but with careful technique the risk is quite low. Afterwards, I ask that my patients do not massage or manipulate the area as this can alter the result."
So, mitts off.
Dr D'Anna then sees her patients one week later for a check-up, which she says is crucial as it allows her to review the progress of the treatment, modify the result or add further filler where applicable. "I am a little OCD about this, because I want to make sure that both myself and my patient are happy with the final result."
Will anyone be able to tell?
"The best way to ensure the result is natural is to find the best cosmetic injector that you can," said Dr D'Anna. As mentioned, Dr D'Anna recommends looking for someone that can show you before and after photos, so you can make sure you're on the same wavelength as each other.
"I might also add that your injectors face is often a good indicator too, as it will tell you a lot about what they think is cosmetically appealing." So, if your practitioner looks like Mickey Rourke, it's not a good sign.
"Finally, talk about the kind of result you would like. Cosmetic injectors, like myself, have a bunch of dermal fillers at our disposal. We can choose the products that will give you the result you are looking for."
Are there any risks or side effects?
"Before treatment it is really important that you discuss your own medical history and medications with your injector. This should include any natural products that you might be taking as well," said Dr D'Anna. "A typical example is fish oil. Yes, it is great for you, but it can increase your bleeding and bruising. This is something that is important to know beforehand." You'll also want to avoid things like ibuprofen, blood thinners, and alcohol for the same reason.
The most common risks are discomfort or pain, bruising and swelling, but these risks are generally minimal and short-lived, but also sometimes unavoidable. Another thing is lumps - "Sometimes some fillers create lumps and bumps in the lips. If dealt with early — usually within a week of filler placement — they can be manipulated by the cosmetic injector and they will easily dissipate."
"A much more serious risk, but also much less common, is vascular occlusion. Vascular occlusion is the medical term for a blocked blood vessel. Your injector should understand the anatomy of your face intimately and also the best techniques to avoid this. This also includes not placing too much filler in any one area in one sitting. It is vital that your cosmetic injector operates out of a clinic so that they can look after you should any of these complications occur."
So, yeah. While lip fillers may be considered a simple ‘lunch time procedure’, it’s pretty bloody important to remember that this is an actual procedure that comes with risks.
How long do lip injections last?
"The results of the filler will definitely vary between patients, as your genetic makeup has a lot to do with this. Additionally, the amount of animation that you have (the amount you move your lips on a day-to-day basis) will also have an impact. The more you move your lips, the quicker the filler may start to dissipate."
*Never moves face again*
"On average though, lip filler can last around five months," said Dr D'Anna. "More for thicker fillers, and less for the thinner fillers that need to be used."
Do lip injections hurt?
"At my clinic, no (haha!), but that is because I use full dental anaesthetic so that there is literally no pain at all," said Dr D'Anna. "Many injectors rely on topical anaesthetics. This is a numbing cream that is used to numb the surface. Others rely on the lip filler having local anaesthetic in the filler itself."
You can generally expect some discomfort during the treatment (it is an injection after all), but it all comes down to the individual and the injector's technique. "The main take-home message here is that you need to look around to find an injector that will make the experience as comfortable as possible. And it is possible (just come see me!)."
Nice one, Dr D!
I think I'm going to do it! How much does it cost?
Okay. This depends on a lot of things - like the type of filler, the amount you get, who you see, and the location you’re visiting. "Lip filler costs do vary quite a lot. I have seen crazy low prices and then crazy high prices too," said Dr D'Anna.
"On average, most injectors will charge you based on the amount of filler that is being used. This can vary from $400 to $1,100. Crazy, right?! I always quote patients before proceeding based on how much filler I believe that they will need to achieve their desired result. For me, this starts at around $550."
Our advice? Use this as your guide. Like most things, you generally get what you pay for - so don't try and save some extra cash by going to some dodgy spa down the road that has a 'special deal' on. It ain't good.
Feature image: Getty
Have you tried lip fillers before? Share you experience with us in the comment section below.