To be honest, lip injections have always been on my list—you know what I’m talking about, those beauty treatments and procedures that you’d totally love to try in theory, but never actually go forward with. But now that cosmetic injections are at an all-time high (the Zoom effect is very real, ppl) and everyone and their mother seems to be giving filler a try, I’ve started to become v attached to the idea of getting fuller, plumper lips.
But here’s the thing: Even though lip injections are becoming wildly popular, it’s important to remember that it’s still a very real procedure with very real risks when done incorrectly. That’s why I caught up with two New York City-based dermatologists, Shereene Idriss, MD, and Lesley Rabach, MD, to get all the info on getting your lips done for the first time. Keep scrolling for everything you should expect, including the cost (spoiler: lip filler doesn’t come cheap!), the pain, and bc I love you, the before-and-after pics that will maybe, definitely convert you.
What are lip injections?
Lip augmentation is a cosmetic procedure that helps volumize and enhance your lips with an injectable filler (the most common being hyaluronic acid-based solutions, like Juvéderm or Restylane). Filler is great for adding natural-looking volume, some plumper fullness, and/or evening out your lip shape. And while you might think of Instagram-influencer lips when you hear the words “lip injections,” know that filler is actually super customizable—your dermatologist will work with you to create the best look for you and your vibe (whether that’s big and bold or lowkey and subtle).
What is the best injectable for lips?
Dr. Rabach says the fillers that are most commonly used for lips are Juvéderm, Juvéderm Ultra, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Juvéderm Volbella, Restylane, and Restylane Silk. “These are all made from hyaluronic acid but differ in their thicknesses and how they look in the lip.” And if you’re thinking, “Wait, the same stuff that’s in my hyaluronic acid serum?” you’re right.
Hyaluronic acid is is a sugar derivative naturally found in your body that has the ability to hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. And for that reason, it’s perfect for both hydrating your skin and plumping your lips (or cheeks, chin, jaw, etc.). Hyaluronic acid is also the preferred filler type for its more natural look and ability to dissolve over time or with the help of your derm.
Juvéderm, Volbella, and Restylane Silk are much thinner, so they are used more superficially and can make the lip look a little bit puffier. For her older patients, Dr. Idriss prefers to use Restylane to reshape and redefine the border or “scaffolding” of the lips that fades over time. And in younger patients with thinner lips, she likes to use Juvéderm Volbella for volume and oomph. All that’s to say, when choosing your doctor, consider their aesthetic as an important part of the decision. An easy way to figure out what you want? Check out your dermatologist’s Instagram or website for examples of their work.
What’s the difference between lip injections and lip flips?
You’ve probably heard of lip flips by now—the cosmetic treatment is having a legit moment on Instagram and TikTok—but how exactly do they compare to lip injections? Well, for starters, lip flips don’t involve filler—instead of Juvéderm or Restylane, the lips are injected with small amounts of neurotoxin (like Botox or Dysport) to relax the muscle right around the lips. “In doing so, this causes the lip to protrude—or rather ‘flip’ out a little—thereby giving the lips a poutier appearance,” Robert Finney, MD, dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in New York City, has told Cosmo.
“Filler is a great option for someone who is looking to add volume to their lips, while a Botox lip flip can be helpful for those with thinner lips and a gummy smile to provide a naturally enhanced lip, without adding volume,” dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, has said. If you’re unsure which treatment is best for your lips, book a consultation with a dermatologist—they’ll help you go over all of your options before making a decision.
How much do lip injections cost?
Brace yourself: Lip injections cost anywhere from $550 to $2,000—and you’ll likely need to top off the lip filler every six to nine months. Why such a big range? The price depends on the type of filler, the amount of filler you get, the region you live in, and the physician you see. Don’t cheap out on your injections by going to some discount spa though. It’s not worth the very, very high risk (infection, rejection, distortion, etc.). Not down for the price? Snag one of these lip masks or balms for a cute ‘n shiny look:
How long do lip injections last?
As far as how long lip fillers last, Dr. Rabach says that depends on how much a patient gets, their metabolism, the desired plumpness, and the product used, but you can usually expect anywhere from six months to three years, on average. Although, seriously, this is one of those things where your mileage really does vary. Some may need to get their fillers topped off after six months, and others may be fine for longer.
What is the most natural lip filler?
Welp, you’ve got temporary and permanent fillers, and trust me—temporary is the way to go. Permanent and semipermanent fillers, while tempting, are not reversible (hence the name permanent), and little can be done to fix them if you hate them. But for the most part, “natural” has to do mostly with placement and amount rather than the type of filler used.
Dr. Rabach says each person’s lips need to be examined for symmetry and overall shape so the filler can be placed accordingly. “If someone wants a fuller lip, the best option is often to gradually add filler over time so it looks natural,” she says. In other words, don’t expect to walk away with drastically different lips after one appointment if you still want ’em to look natural.
“As you do this procedure over and over, you forget where you were at baseline,” Dr. Idriss explains. “So you have to find a physician who’s going to keep you in check, because you don’t want to go overboard and start looking really ducky or inflated.”
How many syringes do you need for lips?
Dr. Rabach says one syringe distributed appropriately is usually the right amount for most people to start with because you get all-over enhancement while still maintaining a natural appearance. “Gradual plumping is key,” says Dr. Rabach. “In our office, we will often start with half a syringe and have the patient come back after a week or two later for another half.” And be weary if it’s your first time getting filler and your doctor suggests more than one syringe. “Two syringes is too much for most people in one sitting if we’re going for a natural appearance,” she says.
Do lip injections hurt?
Dr. Rabach says all hyaluronic acid fillers come mixed with lidocaine (a numbing medication), but your doctor can numb the area around your lips with a dental nerve block (an injection into your gums just like a dentist would do before filling a cavity), or you can opt for a topical numbing cream, which Dr. Idriss prefers. “When you do a dental nerve block, it changes the way you move your lips and what the shape looks like for a couple hours,” she says. Once numb, you’ll feel a little prick, slight pressure, and a dull kind of throbbing, but it shouldn’t be too intensely painful if you’re numbed up.
Are lip fillers dangerous?
Although fillers are commonly considered a “lunchtime procedure,” you need to view this as a potentially invasive procedure with the possibility of side effects and risks, like a scary-sounding thing called vascular occlusion (aka blood vessel blockage, which is rare but can lead to tissue death), before making the final decision to go through with it.
To avoid a botched job, only see a board-certified professional, like a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, who is highly experienced in lip injections. Ask to see before and after pictures of what the doctor has done in the past, and also look at the staff’s faces. Dr. Idriss says the staff can be the best litmus test of the doctor’s work, because they’ve likely been worked on too.
What do I need to know before getting lip fillers?
Before your lip injection appointment, make sure to avoid blood thinners. Thinner blood will make the area more prone to bruising and bleeding, so 10 days prior, stop taking painkillers (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen), fish oil, and vitamin E—and, yes, stop drinking alcohol, which also thins your blood. And anyone who has a history of cold sores should take their prevention medication two days before the procedure, because it could trigger a flare-up.
What should you not do after lip injections?
Sorry, but you’ll want to stay out of the gym for at least 24 hours. You should also avoid activities that increase blood flow to your face, like getting a massage or facial or doing headstands, which can only add to the swelling. One more thing to keep in mind: You’ll likely be a little swollen and/or red after your treatment, so it’s not a bad idea to have an ice pack on hand and to drink plenty of water.
Do lip fillers permanently stretch your lips?
Despite what you might think, your lips will not turn into saggy, deflated skin bags after your filler dissolves. On the contrary, Dr. Idriss says injecting your lips indirectly stimulates your own collagen production when the needle pricks your skin, so your lips could actually remain a tiny bit larger after injections. Win-win, right?
Does lip filler dissolve naturally?
If you use a hyaluronic acid filler, yes, the filler will dissolve in a matter of months. Another bonus of HA filler: If you don’t like how your lips turn out for whatever reason, your doctor can inject an eraser enzyme called hyaluronidase to break down the particles and speed up the rate at which the fillers dissolve. Dr. Idriss says the process lasts only a few seconds and the results are instant, but it could take a few days for the filler and swelling to totally go down.