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Lip filler: everything you need to know

Things to consider when thinking about lip injections

Thanks to the hordes of beestung-lipped ladies dominating social media, lip filler is currently one of the most popular non-surgical tweakments around.

Even in the age of the face covering, the trend shows no sign of abating – some say this is because masks disguise the fact that you’ve had your lips done, while allowing for discreet recovery time.

For those with thin or uneven lips, lip enhancement is a gift from the gods. But we’ve all seen and heard the horror stories, and the fear of ending up with duck lips or an obviously overdone look can be a worry for prospective patients.

However, the move is now towards a super-natural look using medium-depth fillers that will have even your closest friends wondering, ‘have they or haven’t they?’

Lip specialist Dr Rita Rakus of the Dr Rita Rakus Clinic in London feels that celebrities also play a part in lip filler trends: "The influence of celebrities should not be underestimated – there is a trend in patients wanting to achieve a certain look with lip filler, often inspired by a celebrity figure, bringing in pictures of famous faces to their doctor and requesting to mimic how their lips look. However, it is important to discuss with your doctor how a particular look will suit your face and features.

Non-surgical aesthetics procedures are currently unregulated in the UK, so for safe and successful results – and like everything we write about on EV – it’s essential you do your homework. Read reviews and only book in with a qualified, accredited and reputable practitioner, dentist or nurse prescriber for your procedure. Do not be tempted to get lip filler at a party or anyone's home.

"It is important to choose a reliable practitioner who will be able to advise you on what you need to achieve your desired look," agrees Dr Rakus. "It is also important to spend time in consultation with your practitioner, discussing the desired results and running through the treatment process in detail to understand what is possible and what filler options are most suited to your needs."

During your consultation, ask about the brand of filler they plan to use, how much they will be using and what you can do if things don’t go to plan.

You can check the product’s packaging for a CE mark – this indicates it has been deemed to meet EU health and safety requirements. This will give you the assurance that you’ll be provided with best-in-class service, and the results you have paid good money for.

What should I consider beforehand?

Along with who you will choose to administer your filler, think about how much larger you want your lips to be.

You’ll pay per syringe for your lip filler – one syringe is around 1ml of filler. This is usually enough for most people. If you are unsure how much to go for, a good practitioner will be able to advise on the most balanced look according to the size of your natural lips and facial structure.

If you’re new to lip injectables, a ‘less is more’ approach is best, unless of course you don’t mind the obviously fake look: for that you’ll probably need two or three syringes (and a healthy bank balance).

If your lips are small, thin or ageing has contributed to loss of volume, the aim will be to gradually build up volume rather than producing a noticeable size increase straight off the bat.

If you want to give your lips more definition, you might want to have the filler in your lips' vermilion border – the outside edge. You could also ask your practitioner if you can use what you’ve paid for gradually.

Another thing to remember is that certain substances and vitamins can contribute to post-procedure bruising due to being anti-coagulators (blood thinners) – avoid aspirin, vitamin E and fish oil for about a week running up to your appointment, and caffeine and alcohol 24 hours before and after.

And don’t schedule an appointment close to having dental work – wait two weeks between both appointments to ensure there’s no risk of bacteria spreading.

How long does lip filler last?

Thankfully, permanent silicone is no longer used for injecting lips. Nowadays, lip filler is made out of hyaluronic acid, a substance that naturally occurs in the human body. Because of this it is not permanent and your body will slowly metabolise the formula over a few months.

If you suddenly decide you no longer want a pumped up pout it’s a bonus, but if you love them you’ll need to invest in another round.

How long your filler lasts is very individual from person to person, but it’s important to manage your expectations. On average lip filler will last between six months to a year, depending on the product used and the amount injected.

Does getting lip filler hurt?

Ask most people and they will say no; it may feel uncomfortable though. At your procedure, a local anaesthetic known as a dental block will be applied beforehand to take the edge off the injections and ease discomfort; sometimes it’s incorporated into the formula.

When the practitioner gets to work you will feel a scratch and you may feel the needle moving under the skin. You should be out the door within 45 minutes. Straight afterwards your lips may feel a lot bigger, as the injections do make them swell.

What do I need to do for aftercare?

In short, not that much! Your practitioner will probably put a cold ice pack against your newly enhanced smackers straight after your procedure to help minimise bruising and swelling.

If you feel sore when you get home you can do the same again, but do not take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen.

Any swelling should subside within a day or two. Don’t touch or massage your lips, as you may inadvertently move the filler around.

To prevent bruising, avoid smoking and alcohol for a couple of days after getting your lip filler. It’s also best to avoid the gym and sauna for a couple of days as you need to keep your lips clean (and sweat free).

What happens if things go wrong?

If the results aren’t what you expected you can return to have your filler dissolved with an enzyme-based reversing agent called hyaluronidase or hyalase.

This works on all hyaluronic-acid based fillers including Restylane, Juvederm, Volbella and Belotero. Your lips will be back to their pre-filler state within a few days.