What are lip injections?

Leah Zawawi performs lip injections.
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Finally, a post on the most popular cosmetic treatment – lip injections!

Understandably, most first-timers are quite inquisitive about the process when it comes to their first lip injections, or lip plump. Asking questions is something we always highly encourage. Perfect results are a function of how you look, how well you understand the process and how the outcome aligns with your expectations.

Understanding and expectations are anchored to knowledge. Today I will cover the process of lip injections, answer the most important questions I regularly get and will cast a light on the facts you should be aware of when it comes to lip filler treatments.

Lips are one of the most seductive features of the face. Not everyone is genetically blessed with perfect symmetry and volume, but we can improve the overall appearance of the lips while maintaining a natural look. Our non-invasive procedures leverage fillers to plump up and shape the lips for a fuller, radiant pout. Hence, lip injections!

Why People Get Lip Fillers And Lip Injections

Lip enhancements and lip injections can be performed for numerous reasons:

  • Correcting asymmetries: Everyone has natural asymmetries, especially when it comes to facial features. With the lips being a center of focus, it can often be more noticeable when one side is fuller or more lifted. Hyaluronic acid fillers can be used to add balance and create a more symmetrical lip profile.
  • Increasing size: Hyaluronic acid filler can be used to increase your lip size. This can be performed (and perfected) over a period of multiple treatments based on your overall end goal.
  • Rejuvenate aging lips: As we age, we naturally lose volume throughout our face and our lips are no exception. Throughout the years, your once luscious lips may appear in need of some TLC as they lose volume. Using Hyaluronic acid filler lip injections will help smooth out wrinkles and creases, add volume and restructure the lip line. Subtle enhancements can be performed for a more hydrated look.

What To Expect During Your Lip Injections Appointment

The appointment begins with a review of your medical history, consulting with a Medical Director and confirming that you are a good candidate.

Key points you need to know:

  • Dermal filler and lip injections cannot be performed if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Allergies matter. Disclosing your allergies is important. It can make a difference with respect to whether the numbing cream is appropriate or what type of post-cream can be applied
  • If you’re prone to cold sores, antiviral medication should be taken as a precautionary measure prior to and post-procedure to limit a potential outbreak

The practitioner will also assess your lips to better understand the lip tissue. This includes feeling around for scars, and looking for natural asymmetries and anatomical placements.

Setting Expectations With Lip Injections

We all seem to look for inspirational photos from sources such as social media that appeal to us as a desired goal. However, one needs to consider the fact that everyone has different facial characteristics and therefore outcomes – and expectations – can vary from person to person. When it comes to any form of enhancement or lip injections, your own natural features must be leveraged.

Your provider should have a good understanding of your needs and how the lip injections filler would settle, so it is best to discuss your desired goals with them to ensure realistic expectations are set. Again, what is possible depends on your natural lip shape and enhancements should leverage these features; otherwise, the results can appear unnatural and unfitting relative to your other facial features.

If a larger, fuller lip is your end goal, it may require multiple treatments over the span of a few months to achieve. The person performing the lip injections should not simply force the product in and stretch the lip out immediately. Perfection can take time and will also ensure that filler does not migrate above the lip line.

The Lip Injection Process

To begin, a strong pharmaceutical numbing agent is generally applied a few minutes prior to ensure comfort.

Lip injections can then be carried out using one of two different techniques: a ‘cannula’ (blunt tip needle) or a needle (which I personally prefer for precision and sculpting). This is very dependent on your goals, the specific traits of your lips and the skill of the Injector.

As an example of how the lip injections process can be carried out, one of the most popular treatments that I perform is using a ‘tenting’ technique which involves multiple small horizontal lip injections below the lip line (known as the vermilion border) into the lip tissue. This allows the lip to increase in height with micro-injections to ensure the lips won’t look too puffy or protrude outwards. This technique gives a beautiful enhancement to the shape of the lip, increases lip height and adds volume evenly throughout. The needle used to perform the procedure is the smallest needle possible which helps with comfort. Since a numbing agent is also incorporated inside the syringe, you usually don’t feel much after the first few initial pokes. This procedure can take 15-30 minutes from start to finish.

Immediately following the lip injections, you can expect a bit of swelling, possible bruising and tenderness when the numbing agents begin to wear off. In a few days, the lips begin to heal, swelling subsides, and you’ll start to see the true results.

Tips to Ensure Best Lip Injections Results

Here are a few additional tips to help minimize adverse effects and maximize the possibility of best results:

  1. No alcohol 3-7 days prior to your procedure (alcohol may promote the risk of bruising and bleeding)
  2. No Advil/Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Aleve, St. John’s Wort, oral Vitamin E, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) 24-72 hours prior to treatment (as they may increase your risk of bruising and bleeding at the injection site)
  3. Disclose any medications that you currently take with your provider prior to your appointment
    1. If you are taking any anti-coagulation medications, for example, this will increase the risk of bruising and bleeding during treatment
  4. Eating pineapple pre-and post-procedure may potentially help minimize swelling (Research suggests that the enzyme in pineapple Bromelain can have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and healing wounds. This can be purchased as a supplement if preferred.)
  5. Using arnica pills prior to the procedure and/or arnica gel post-procedure may help relieve the inflammation process
  6. Icing lips post-procedure helps to minimize inflammation

These steps are not always guaranteed to help as much as intended, but there is one factor that is most crucial to the healing process – time. You should be prepared for the lips to take their time to fully heal naturally after your lip injections. Although most will heal completely within a handful of days, it can take up to two weeks for the lips to completely heal for some! But don’t sweat it – it’s worth it!

Selecting an Injector and Learning More

Knowledge is key when it comes to selecting an Injector. Here are a few tips to ensure you select someone that you can be confident in delivering the results of your lip injections.

  1. Review their before and after photos online. Similar to an artist, get a feel of their work through their galleries.
  2. Find someone with ample experience (or is backed by someone with experience), who is always learning the newest techniques and fine-tuning their own knowledge.
  3. Do a consultation! When it comes to any injectable treatment, you should build a rapport with the injector. Meet them, speak with them about the potential procedure, discuss options and ask questions.
    • The truth is that there are risks associated with any cosmetic procedure. For your own safety, it is important to understand these possible risks and that the healthcare practitioner can provide management if a complication arises.
  4. Book a follow-up appointment after your treatment. A responsible practitioner will want to assess you to ensure all is well with your lip injections and that you are satisfied with your results.
    • I always want my clients to know that they are not completely on their own after the initial appointment and that I am available to speak about any questions or concerns.

Other Important Lip Injections Questions

Do Lip Injections Hurt?

With a topical numbing agent, as well as a small dose of lidocaine (a numbing agent) in the syringe itself, you’ll experience only mild discomfort from the needle pokes of the lip injections, which will begin to subside throughout the procedure. Afterwards, you’ll be left with limited-to-no pain or discomfort. Once the lidocaine begins to wear off, you may experience a small discomfort when you apply pressure to the lips for the next couple of days.

Will My Lips Look Fake or Overdone?

With the correct provider, the answer is no. Half, full or multiple syringes can be required to enhance, add volume and sharpen that beautiful cupid’s bow you always wanted. Any experienced provider should be able to create a subtle enhancement or a fuller enhancement in a natural way. It requires experience in placement, assessment of the lips and product knowledge from the provider on how to perform lip injections properly.

Can Lip Injections be Reversed if I Am Unsatisfied with the Results?

Yes, hyaluronic acid fillers can be dissolved with an enzyme called Hyaluronidase. If an undesired outcome occurs, the filler can be dissolved and leave you with your natural lip. This can be carried out immediately following the procedure or at any time in the future. However, if it is the initial swelling that is throwing you off, I suggest waiting at least two weeks to decide if you want to dissolve them. It takes time for them to settle and heal.

What Else Should I Expect from Lip Injections? 

  • Swelling. Which lasts for 1-3 days, on average. Icing can help minimize the inflammation process
  • Bruising. Minor bruising is also very common and normal – you’ve been poked a few times throughout the process and lips are very vascular
  • Asymmetries. Lips can look a little asymmetrical, puffy, or even have a ‘lip line ridge’ during the inflammation process. Don’t panic as this will subside

How Long Does Lip Filler / Lip Injections Last?

Lip filler lifespan is dependent on the brand used, the amount that was injected and your own metabolism. Most lip filler can last 6-12 months, on average.

How Much Filler Do I Need?

For first-time lip injections, clients often go with a minimal amount of filler (which is the recommended approach) to first gauge the size and shape. More can be added as needed at future appointments to fine-tune the shape and size. The amount of product (filler) needed is variable depending on your lip size, shape and natural volume. The procedure can require as little as half a syringe to as many as 2 syringes.

How to Gauge Size and Swelling

Typically, if you like the size of your lips immediately post-treatment while they are still swollen, then you’ll likely want to add more product in two to four weeks (this will allow you to add and build). If you find that your lips look slightly too large during the swelling phase, then it is likely that you will be satisfied with the size once fully healed.

As mentioned, having more knowledge about the process can ensure that you have the best outcome possible. Injectables are a form of artistic ability, so picking the right Injector is also key to your lip injections.

As an Injector, and someone who even has my own lips done, I understand the importance of balancing natural features and enhancing the lip shape to fit the face. I am also an advocate of building lips over time. It’s important that you don’t lose your own natural features and beauty. Often, it takes more than one appointment to get you to your ultimate lip goal. Whether you want to take baby steps or plunge right into it, a responsible Injector will educate you on the best outcome and expectations for you. 

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Leah Zawawi performs lip injections.
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