There are varying opinions on the world of cosmetic injectables, and for a long time I wasn’t sure what I thought.
First, lets talk about what they are not: To me, they are NOT “plastic surgery.” I really fail to see how they are so much more taboo than getting a new piercing or tattoo. They are a non-permanent injection administered in a variety of facilities from Medi-Spas to Dental offices. They are not performed by plastic surgeons (I mean, maybe somewhere they are, but typically a nurse does the procedure.)
That’s basically where I landed on this, technically it’s less invasive and permanent than a tattoo, and I’m fine with those!
Why Lip Filler?
I was not blessed with lips. Not, “I was not blessed with full lips” I was not blessed with almost any visible lip. I was called “Chicken Lips” by my loving siblings throughout my childhood and teen years. As an adult, co-workers have pointed out when I over-lined my lips, and even told me that lipstick was not for me. However, seeing as I am now in my 30’s, I am not seeking external validation, but it’s still something that bothers ME.
I wrestled with the idea of what example that sets for my beautiful daughter (who has amazing full lips, I might add) but I came to the conclusion that if she reached the ripe old age of 30 and wanted to have a cosmetic procedure, who cares?
On to the photographic evidence!
See what I mean? I think of my lip filler as being “corrective.” I’m not asking for Kylie Jenner, I’m asking for a surface to gloss.
What Product Was Used
We used one half syringe of Juvederm. Juvederm is a hyaluronic acid dermal filler. HA is naturally found in your body and is an ingredient in many moisturizers because it is so hydrating.
How Does It Work
While the results are immediate, they are not the finished product. The filler continues to plump and soften over the next two weeks as it attracts water molecules to itself.
Because hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in the body, the filler dissolves and disappears over time. Some fullness can be permanent, especially if your lips were small or if you get filler repeatedly. Typically first results are supposed to last anywhere from 3-6 months, and subsequent filler can last up to a year or more.
In my “after” picture above, what you saw is immediately post-injection. So you can see the shape, but not the full result.
This picture above was about 3 days later. I had some slight bumpy areas, but that is normal and they smoothed out over the next few weeks. You can already see that my lips are softer looking, but they are a little swollen still.
The picture below is a month later, and the full result.
My Second Visit
I was happy with the results, but the medi-spa that I went to offers the second half syringe at a discount if you return within 6 weeks, and I happen to enjoy a bargain. So at the 6 week mark I made another appointment. I wanted a little more fullness, especially in my lower lip.
This is the result after that appointment:
They look almost the same, but a little softer and bigger all around. Still a very reasonable and natural size.
I left them alone from July 2019 to November 2020.
For these first two appointments the pain afterwards was almost nothing. I would say that it was a little sore and tight feeling, but I didn’t use any ice and I wasn’t as uncomfortable as I expected. I had no bruising, just redness the first day and minor swelling for 2-3 days.
Before the actual injection they will put some numbing cream on and around your lips for a few minutes. This is enough to reduce the pain a little, but is more likely a placebo. If you’ve had much for medical experience you will know that on unbroken skin lidocaine cream needs at least 30 minutes to work, and 45 minutes to an hour to work fully. I will always avoid pain if I can, so I purchased some Emla brand lidocaine at a pharmacy before my appointment.
On the day of my first appointment I forgot to put the numbing cream on until I was driving there! So in total it was on for about 20 minutes. The pain was tolerable. Around the border of my lips, and the cupid’s bow, made me suck in my breath a little. It’s not comfortable, but it’s quick.
The second appointment I remembered to numb for a full hour and I left the cream on even when I was in the waiting room (the first time I was embarrassed and wiped it off in the car.) This time was much better. There were still spots that pinched but not bad at all.
However, the journey does not end here. Read on to find out about my painful experience and how you can avoid it!
One Year Later
As I mentioned above, I left my little lips alone and rode out my filler for over a year. I didn’t get the itch until the Summer after my first visits.
You can see from this picture a year later that I did still have some filler!
My Third Visit
In November 2020 I decided to go back for my birthday. This time was a much different experience than the first as far as pain and recovery (same medi-spa and same Nurse.)
Again I used the lidocaine cream for a whole hour before the appointment, but unfortunately this time was much more painful than the first time.
Holy Guacamole! Not going to lie, I was pretty alarmed looking in the mirror after! This is some reality TV level stuff.
I had to ice when I went home, and I took some painkillers.
The swelling continued into the evening but by the next day it had gone down quite a lot. This time I was swollen for 3-4 days and bruised for 7.
Why Did This Happen
As it turns out, I made a series of mistakes both before and after my appointment! This explains to me why people have such wildly different experiences, and it ended up being the perfect experiment.
The first thing I didn’t think about was that I was on my period. Your skin is a lot more sensitive when you have your period, and you are not advised to get waxed, etc.
Because I had my period I also had taken ibuprofen and acetaminophen earlier that day, AND then I went home and took some after, forgetting of course, that these are blood thinners and contribute to swelling and bruising.
Moral of the story, don’t book when you could have your period.
The third thing I did wrong was having alcohol the day before. I honestly don’t know if that had anything to do with it, because I only had half of a radler, which is already only 4%, but it’s another “don’t” for before injectables that I spaced on.
Despite looking quite alarming for a bit, my lips still healed nicely.
After this appointment I didn’t go back for my discounted second half syringe. We achieved these results in only one appointment and using a half syringe of Juvederm. I was very happy with the size and shape, and I felt like more would be too much. Two months later I am happy with that decision. I want to be careful to stay within the realm of nature!
This time around I won’t wait until it’s all gone before I go back. I would like to maintain how this looks, so I may go back after about 4 or 5 months. I am currently 2.5 months post-visit and I can see that I have lost some volume since the previous photo, but am still happy with how it looks.
How Much Did It Cost?
The price of Juvederm seems to vary quite wildly from place to place. At my Medi-Spa it is $300 for a half syringe, and $250 for the discounted second half (when you return within 6 weeks.)
For the results at the top of this post, after two appointments – 6 weeks apart, and one full syringe of Juvederm it was $550.
For my total results (below) after 1.5 syringes of Juvederm over 20 months, its was $850.
I suppose you can gather since I went back that it was worth it to me. I am super happy with how my lips look. I think they look natural and if I am speaking or smiling you would see that they are still quite small. I am not secretive about my filler, but I don’t bring it up much either. The only person who has noticed without me saying anything, was one person at work when I was still swollen.
Because of how I retained filler the first time (I still had a little bit right up until my last appointment,) I am hoping that every time I go back the results will last even longer.
Finding A Good Injector
The first thing to note is that people want and expect different results. Some actually want the overly full, unnatural look. So don’t write off a certain Nurse or Spa after a couple of photos.
The easiest way to find the right place for you, is on Instagram. I looked up Medi-Spas in my area on Google maps with 4+ stars and found their Instagram accounts. If they are proud of their work, they probably share regularly, and they pretty much always say which nurse did the filler. Ideally they are also upfront about how much of what product was used, and pricing. Scroll through and pay attention to which lips you like and who did them. It’s interesting, but I found on each page there was someone in particular whose lips I always gravitated towards. It was hard to find before and after pictures for lips as small as mine, so I paid special attention to who had good results on very small lips.
Make sure you are clear about what you want. I asked very specifically to keep the volume in the middle in order to avoid the “two plump caterpillars” look, and you can see that she did exactly that.
So, after all of that, would you get fillers?