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It wasn’t long ago when you simply reached for your makeup bag if you wanted to add fullness and definition to your lips. A bold shade of lipstick a la Marilyn Monroe or trace of lip liner would do the trick. But that was, of course, before the beauty reign of the Kardashians and Jenners. Times have changed: According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the demand for lip fillers increased by fifty percent from 2000 to 2016, making it the second-fastest growing facial procedure in the United States.
Not only has the procedure spiked in popularity, but women these days are openly crediting the needle—and not just those with obvious enhancements. When done correctly, you can achieve natural-looking volume and a more youthful appearance. On the other hand, you run the risk of duck lips. So, if you are considering imitating the pout of a popular public figure, there are a few things you should know to ensure that your expectations are met and, more importantly, for your safety. Consider this your first consultation.
What are lip fillers, exactly?
“Most are different variations of hyaluronic acid,” explains Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. “Hyaluronic acid is a water-absorbing molecule that is found naturally in our bodies. It draws more moisture into the skin, plumping it up.” By injecting it into the lips, it adds temporary volume and definition.
Be ready to discuss your options
Juvederm, Restylane, Restylane Silk, and Belotero are all commonly used to fill the lips. There are slight variations in longevity and density, which determine how they are used. Your doctor will work with you to choose a formula that delivers the best result for your facial features, so a consultation beforehand is key. “Be open to feedback,” says Dr. Gohara. “Similar to when you take a picture into the hair salon and your stylist tells you that it may not work with your hair type or face shape.”
Consider another method
When you’re discussing your options, you may realize that just a little contouring or definition is what you need. A new way to do this is with Botox. A procedure known as the Botox Lip Flip defines without adding volume. “It contours by paralyzing certain muscles around your lips, resulting in them popping up a little bit,” explains Dr. Gohara.
Bigger isn’t always better
The key is to accentuate the shape you already have. For the most natural-looking result, the bottom lip should always have a little more volume and pout than the top. Filler works three dimensionally, expanding in all directions. Going too big up top will result in a balloon-like effect in which you lose the contours of your cupid’s bow.
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You will get what you pay for
Keep in mind that bigger lips will come with a bigger price tag. Because the lips are such a delicate—and prominent—part of your face, the procedure doesn’t come cheap. “The minimum is around $500 and can go up to a $1000,” says Dr. Gohara. Whatever you do, say no to bargain deals. This isn’t the time to skimp. If a medi spa is offering extreme price cuts, your filler may also be cut to cover the cost.
It’s crucial to go to a trusted doctor
You want to find a board-certified derm or plastic surgeon who has a lot of experience in facial aesthetics, says Dr. Gohara. They may refer you to a nurse practitioner in their office who specializes in injections, which is also okay. The best way to
find a doc in your area is by going to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery website and typing in your zip code.
Understand fillers are not a permanent fix
Since the fillers are composed of natural hyaluronic acid, your body will slowly metabolize them over time. Depending on the type of formula you use, they can last anywhere from three months to a year and a half before you need a touch up.
The procedure requires prep work
During the week leading up to it, steer clear of anything that may thin your blood to avoid additional bruising. This includes fish oil, vitamin E, aspirin, and yes, even that glass of vino.
The appointment itself won’t take longer than your lunch break
After the lip area has been properly numbed, the entire injection process only takes about ten to fifteen minutes. However, the post-procedure bruising and swelling can last a couple of days.
There is some ouch-factor
While the thought of your lips being pricked seems excruciating, the pain isn’t too bad. It’s often described more as an uncomfortable pressure rather than pain. Once it’s over, you’ll receive ice or a topical product to soothe the skin and help decrease inflammation.
If you hate them, it’s no big deal
What’s a girl to do if she doesn’t like her new lips? First, don’t freak out: “The beauty about fillers is that it can be fixed or totally reversed,” says Gohara. “There’s something called Hyaluronidase that is designed to dissolve the injected hyaluronic acid, reversing everything.” Typically, your doctor will have you come back a week or two after your appointment to evaluate the filler. This is when you can discuss any additional tweaks or if you would like the filler to be removed entirely.
You can fake fuller lips
For anyone who still isn’t sold on the idea of a needle, there are advanced alternatives available (forget Lip Kits). Dr. Gohara recommends SkinMedica HA5 Smooth and Plump Lip System ($68; dermstore.com). “Though temporary, it’s a great solution,” she says. “It’s compromised of five hyaluronic acids that not only makes lips thicker, but it makes them rosier too.”