Plastic Surgeon Tells Us What You Should Know Before Getting Butterfly Lip Filler

Years ago, a designer handbag might've been the go-to accessory to elevate your look, but these days, it seems to be the perfect pout. A big, pillowy kisser has become the standard among influencers and celebrities, largely thanks to lip fillers. According to a 2022 report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, lip augmentation is the fifth most popular minimally invasive procedure, and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.

Plumpness is typically one of the main goals when getting fillers, but some techniques focus on creating a specific shape. Enter the butterfly lip filler trend. "Butterfly lip filler is a recently publicized cosmetic procedure that uses hyaluronic acid filler to add volume to the lips and lift the cupid's bow in a way that resembles the appearance of a butterfly's wing," Dr. Allen Foulad, a plastic surgeon and the founder of Allen Foulad MD Inc., exclusively shared with Glam. According to Dr. Foulad, the procedure often starts with a shot of filler dissolver into the lips first before new filler is added. The practitioner will also tape the edges of the lips to get the desired butterfly shape, "which is advertised to help shape the lips and avoid filler migration." Finally, filler is injected vertically through the vermillion border, similar to the "Russian lip filler" technique.

The procedure might sound totally worth it for a Bratz doll pout, but there are some risks to note before you commit to trying it.

All lip filler comes with risks

Whether you're new to lip filler injections or not, it's important to be aware of the potential risks before letting any needles near your mouth. According to WebMD, you may experience side effects after injecting hyaluronic acid or similar fillers into your lips, including bleeding, swelling, bruising, and the emergence of cold sores or fever blisters (if you've had them in the past). Thankfully, these side effects usually last only a few days.

However, some side effects and complications can linger much longer, especially if you don't get them treated by a doctor. Long-lasting swelling and bruising, infection, tissue death, scarring, and other serious risks may occur. To reduce these risks, Dr. Allen Foulad warns that lip filler isn't right for everyone. "Individuals who have an infection at or near the lips are advised to abstain from undergoing lip filler treatment," the plastic surgeon explained. Additionally, Dr. Foulad exclusively suggests to Glam skipping filler if you're currently pregnant, have recently given birth, or have dental procedures (including teeth cleanings) lined up soon.

No cosmetic procedure is completely foolproof, but one way to limit your odds of something going wrong is to go to a trusted professional. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration suggests only getting lip augmentation from a licensed healthcare provider (such as a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon) who uses prescription fillers, not products sold to the public.

Taping the lips could be dangerous and ineffective

Tape is the secret weapon that separates butterfly lip filler from other methods, but it doesn't always work as promised, as Dr. Allen Foulad explained to Glam. "The effect of the tape is likely short-lived and is unlikely to provide a lasting solution for preventing filler migration. The choice of filler type and the injection technique are far more influential factors in ensuring the longevity of the desired results," Dr. Foulad exclusively revealed to us. Rather than taping the edges of your mouth into a "butterfly" shape (a practice that usually lasts at least 24 hours post-injection, per Aesthetics Journal), the cosmetic expert suggested following the natural shape of the lips and injecting an appropriate amount of filler to prevent lip filler migration. In other words, the trendy butterfly effect might not be as realistic as it appears on social media.

Another concern: Concealing the skin around the lips with tape could hide signs of serious complications, such as vascular occlusion, noted Dr. Foulad. According to the American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery, vascular occlusion occurs when filler is injected into a blood vessel, blocking blood and oxygen from flowing properly. In serious cases, the condition can lead to skin necrosis or skin death. Lip tape could camouflage skin discoloration and other warning signs, increasing the risk of these complications.

Dissolver can pose issues too

Another common practice with butterfly lip filler is the use of a dissolver just before injecting more volume into the lips. However, Dr. Allen Foulad doesn't recommend this technique. "The butterfly lip filler procedure is also touted as capable of dissolving prior filler on the very day of the filler treatment. However, the idea of dissolving and re-injecting filler on the same day doesn't quite add up," he exclusively told Glam. "I typically recommend to wait a minimum of two weeks after dissolving filler before re-injecting the lips. This allows sufficient time for the dissolving treatment to take effect and for the associated swelling to resolve. Then, an accurate assessment can be made and a precise re-treatment performed."

Similar to tape, dissolver can also conceal troubling symptoms that would otherwise be easy to spot by a doctor. According to Healthline, lip filler dissolvers may cause rare side effects, including allergic reactions. If you suffer from a bad reaction, you might notice swelling around the lips and mouth. But if you inject filler soon after the dissolver, swelling, and other warning signs could be mistaken as plumpness from the hyaluronic acid.

Butterfly lips often look unnatural

With how much effort it requires to achieve the perfect shape (keeping tape on your mouth isn't exactly an easy feat), butterfly lip filler might not actually give you a pout that suits your face and personal features. As Dr. Allen Foulad exclusively told Glam, "This technique doesn't take into account the natural structure and compartments of the lips. Instead, it relies on a temporary technique using tape and, in many cases, the butterfly lip filler results I've seen tend to look unnatural and exaggerated." He also explained that the vertical injection method can create noticeable volume for your pout, though the end result can be hard to predict and might not be what you'd hoped for.

Unsurprisingly, Dr. Foulad isn't offering butterfly lip filler in his Beverly Hills clinic. "I don't offer the butterfly lip filler procedure to my patients because it doesn't align with the results I aim for. My goal is all about enhancing your natural beauty. I'm not here to create a whole new shape or an exaggerated look just because it's trending," he explained.

Rather than hopping on the butterfly bandwagon because you caught wind of it on social media or saw that a famous influencer tried it, consider collecting images of your ideal lips and bringing them to a cosmetic doctor. They can help determine which style and type of dermal filler best matches your needs and aesthetic preferences.