I have a confession to make: I had lip injections. Not that many people know this fact about me. I had them once a few years back (pre–Kylie Jenner) and had to keep it secret from my boyfriend since I knew he wasn't a fan. We got into a conversation last year about plastic surgery, and he told me, "I don't care what you do, just don't get your lips done!" Funny thing, but this was after the fact—he just never noticed.
Although that's not quite true: When I got home after having been injected, my lips were full, pillowy and quite frankly ridiculous looking, as they had swelled up like two balloons (I'm a delicate peach). I scurried into the spare room hoping I could hide from him (ludicrous idea—our flat at the time was pretty small). "What on earth is wrong with your lips?!" he exclaimed. The first thing that sprung to mind and out of my fat lips was an even fatter lie, "I had a reaction to a lipstick!" He looked at me suspiciously and told me I should complain to the brand. Luckily, the next day my lips had deflated to a soft plumpness that looked like I had great lips rather than a doctor on speed dial.
If you're tempted by the thought of a more pillowy pout, then you're in luck because we've called on Frances Prenna Jones, MD, a London-based cosmetic antiageing doctor, and Michael Lin, MD, a Los Angeles–based board-certified dermatologist, to answer all the questions you might be thinking about lip injections but might be too afraid to ask. Keep scrolling for Lip Injection 101.
We've all seen the horror story post-injection photos where it's all gone wrong, so how much control does the patient really have? It seems that the consultation is key—this is where you can discuss your concerns and aims in detail. "When a patient comes in asking for fuller lips, I like to start by discussing how they would like their lips to look," Lin says. "This step is extremely important because I want to make sure that what they are looking for is achievable and will match the overall shape and structure of their face."
"The shape and size are important to get a balance in proportion. There are certain facial equations and proportions that make a face appear more beautiful to our subconscious," says Prenna Jones. "An example of this is that the bottom lip should be twice the thickness of the top, while the outer corner of the lips should be in line with the mid-pupil. Narrower than this and our subconscious will read the face to look less friendly."
This is why the rest of the face should be taken into consideration, rather than looking at the lips in isolation. "Different facial structures will dictate what lip shape and volume will be appropriate," Lin says. "The lip shape is actually more important than the volume."
While more and more young people are investing in lip injections, there is a minimum legal age. "Patients need to be 18 years and over for all procedures such as Botox, fillers and invasive and non-invasive procedures," explains Prenna Jones.
As far as finding the right person to plump your lips, go by personal recommendation. Don't know anyone who has had their lips done? "Ask how long the practitioner has been doing the treatments and how many a year they do. Make sure they have medical qualifications as well," advises Prenna Jones.
After the consultation, which is around 30 minutes, the treatment begins, which takes roughly 20 minutes. "Not everyone needs to have numbing cream, but we do offer it, and some patients do like to use it. In fact, numbing cream has almost become obsolete since fillers come ready mixed now with anaesthetic, and we use ice to dull any immediate pain," says Prenna Jones.You may feel some discomfort, as the lip area is sensitive, but the pain doesn't last.
So what makes your lips plump? "A hyaluronic acid molecule is used, which is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It attracts water, which in turn, results in a plumping effect," says Prenna Jones. "Hyaluronic acid is the main ingredient in FDA-approved fillers you may have heard of like Juvederm and Restylane," Lin explains. Based on the placement of the filler, your lips can be volumised, reshaped and redefined. The cost varies, but you should expect to pay around £250 to £400. "Remember, you should think of it a little like a hairdresser—you are paying for the expertise of the practitioner, not the actual product!" says Prenna Jones.
Afterwards, there will be some swelling and perhaps a little bruising—I know this from firsthand experience. It tends to last 24 to 48 hours. As with anything, there is the small chance of an adverse reaction, which is why it is so important to go to a reputable and experienced medical practitioner.
You may experience some small lumps and bumps, but these will usually go down after the swelling has subsided. "Prolonged bumps are usually due to poor technique, although sometimes bumps can occur as a rare, adverse response to the product," says Prenna Jones.
The length that lips stay plump will vary from person to person. "As a ballpark figure, the first time you can expect it to last about six to nine months, and after that, it can be anything from nine months to three plus years," says Prenna Jones. "It depends on the person's metabolic rate. There is also a level of accumulation of the product, which of course increases the longevity of results, but mainly it is that patients vary depending on age, metabolism and their natural collagen production," she adds.
If you’re not happy with the results straight away, Prenna Jones advises you hang fire. "It is best to allow the lips to settle before making further changes. If you want to go bigger, we usually say wait about a month for the lips to naturally stretch a bit. If you want to go smaller, allow about two weeks for them to settle. Rarely do patients, after waiting for any swelling to settle, want to reduce the size. It is usually just the initial shock of the change and the swelling combined."
What are your thoughts towards lip injections? Would you ever consider getting them? Sound off below!