Lip filler has become a common procedure because it provides great results with limited downtime. However, there is still a bit of a recovery time to consider after lip filler. We heard from experts on how to take care of your lips post-filler for a faster, smoother recovery, so you can show off your perfectly plumped lips sooner.
Use a cold compress
“In order to minimize the swelling and bruising and speed up the recovery process, we recommend our patients to use cold compresses over the lips,” says Short Hills, NJ facial plastic surgeon Alexander Ovchinsky, MD. He suggests doing so intermittently for the first 24-48 hours.
For the sake of your mental health post-operation, Beverly Hills, CA facial plastic surgeon Kimberly J. Lee, MD, recommends avoiding mirrors. Skip checking out the results until lips are healed and swelling has concluded.
Stay away from hot showers
Dr. Ovchinsky advises avoiding hot showers, steam baths and saunas. After two to three days, he says you can return to warmer temperatures.
Don’t move your lips too much
“Lips are a very mobile and vascular area of the face thus they tend to swell up more after filler injections as compared to other areas of the face,” says Dr. Ovchinsky. Although it will be tempting to test out your kissy face and picture perfect pout, wait until the healing is done. “Avoid manipulating them during this time of swelling,” warns Dr. Lee.
You may have heard about the various benefits of bromelain—an anti-inflammatory derived from pineapple—one being that it can reduce swelling. Scottsdale, AZ, facial plastic surgeon Kelly Bomer, MD says you should begin taking bromelain the morning of the procedure and continue until the swelling is diminished.
Across the board, experts advise using arnica, another well-known anti-inflammatory ingredient. Arnica can be taken orally or used topically to help speed up healing from bruising, says Dr. Bomer. Dr. Lee advises opting for surgical strength arnica, a special formulation that has 30 times the average amount of arnica, along with some bromelain.
Washington D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster, MD routinely recommends OcuMend Arnica Patches ($40) to reduce bruising. New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD recommends taking Arnika Forte ($40) tablets for a week.
Sleep on an elevated pillow
According to Dr. Lee, you should sleep with your head on an elevated pillow following a lip filler treatment, as it will help reduce swelling. Dr. Ovchinsky suggests using an extra pillow for the first few days post-injection.
If you have excessive swelling, ask about Prednisone
Since Prednisone is a prescription steroid, whether or not you need it is up to your doctor. If you experience excessive swelling, which Dr. Levine says is rare but happens occasionally, talk to your doctor about taking Prednisone for a few days to bring it down.
“For those individuals who have a known experience of having next-day swelling of the lips after filler placement, a prophylactic dose of 10mg of prednisone taken three times— at the time of the filler, evening after and the next morning—reduces lip swelling risk,” says Dover, OH facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD.
Ice your lips
Like you would with any other bruise, ice your lips. Dr. Levine actually recommends using ice on the lips both before and after treatment. Icing lips before the procedure will help shrink blood vessels while icing them after the injection will minimize swelling, she explains. Dr. Bomer suggests using a cool gel pack for several days, as needed, to reduce swelling and minimize bruising.
All of these great anti-inflammatory actions would quickly be canceled out by inflammation-causing alcohol. Dr. Bomer suggests avoiding drinking alcohol the night before and the day of your appointment to decrease bruising.
Dr. Liebertz advises taking a dose of Benadryl before bed after the injection. If patients can tolerate the pill, it can help reduce post-treatment swelling, he explains.
Take a load off the day you get your lips filled and enjoy some R&R. Dr. Bomer advises avoiding exercise the day of the injection while Dr. Ovchinsky recommends avoiding strenuous activities or trips to the gym for two to three days.
Stop using anti-inflammatory medications
Some steps for a better recovery come before the procedure even happens. “It’s best to prepare your body for filler injections,” explains Dr. Bomer. “To minimize bruising and swelling, stop all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications which increase bleeding; stop Aspirin and all ibuprofen-like products for one to two weeks prior to injection date.”
Dr. Liebertz is even more strict, telling his patients to avoid all blood-thinners for a week or two ahead of the procedure, including NSAIDs and all supplements and vitamins. Talk with your doctor to see what they suggest.
Avoid salty and spicy foods
Put the chips down. Dr. Levine recommends avoiding excess salt intake for 24 hours following getting your lips filled. Dr. Lee explains that these foods may “lead to water retention and more swelling.”
Eat dark leafy greens
Eating your veggies is always important, but ahead of your lip filler appointment it becomes even more crucial. Dr. Bomer says increasing your intake of dark leafy greens and celery will help naturally decrease your tendency to bruise, thanks to all the vitamin K in them.
If you get cold sores, take antiviral medication
If you’re prone to cold sores, you should get ahead of the possibility of getting one during the procedure. Trying to heal the swelling of lip filler while also healing cold sores is a big headache. To avoid this, Dr. Liebertz suggests those who have a history of oral cold sores due to Herpes Simplex Virus 1 start on an antiviral medication two days before the injection. Dr. Hartman recommends taking Acyclovir at the time of the filler, that evening and the next morning to help reduce the risk of cold sores on the lips post-filler.
Invest in makeup that covers bruises
Admittedly this won’t physically help you heal, but it can make you feel better about going in public. Dr. Bomer says if you do get some stubborn bruises, you should invest in a dark matte lipstick to help conceal them. She advises that “if you have bruising of the white lip or any other area on your skin, Colorscience Mineral Corrector Palette ($42) really works to cover bruises.”