We see lip filler before-and-after photos and they look so seamless, as if a magic wand just floated across the face and bestowed upon the patient a poutier mouth in an instant. The truth is a lip enhancement is a cosmetic procedure that involves penetrating the dermis and injecting a substance into the skin. While it’s completely safe and common, it’s important to have realistic expectations before undergoing lip injections. There’s a little bit of swelling, and sometime bumping and bruising that may come along with it, but what’s considered normal? We asked the pros who perform this popular treatment several times a day.
“Lip filler bruising varies wildly,” says New York oculoplastic surgeon Irene Gladstein, MD. “We see anything from no bruising at all in some patients to more pronounced bruising in others.”
“About one in 20 people that get injected in the lips will get bruising,” adds West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth R. Beer, MD. “Probably less if the person is injected with a cannula.”
Dr. Gladstein agrees that the cannula technique helps to significantly reduce bruising: “Technique definitely plays an important role, but another main determining factor is exposure to blood thinning medications or supplements.”
While hyaluronic acid gel fillers are malleable and formulated specifically for the lips, they may cause immediate bumps when injected. “Lip filler bumps that are product do occur,” says Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD. “Sometimes they can be manually smoothed out. I always tell patients that the “tissue accommodation reaction” for both fillers and toxins is two weeks.”
“Immediate swelling that looks and feels bumpy is not uncommon after lip enhancements,” says Dr. Gladstein. “It usually resolves within a few days. But if you develop a bump a few days, weeks or months after the treatment, we recommend contacting your provider immediately.”
As lips recover from the mild discomfort of the injections, they may be swollen for a short period of time, giving the illusion of a more pronounced result due to the inflammation. “It will usually take about 10 days after the procedure for one to see the final outcome,” Dr. Beer explains.
So, how can you minimize these potential side effects before and after treatment? The doctors agree that in addition to keeping arnica cream on hand, communicating with your doctor about everything you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications is most important. “Avoiding alcohol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories—think Advil, Motrin, Aspirin or Aleve—and certain vitamins and supplements are the mainstay of reducing chances of bruising,” adds Dr. Gladstein.
“I always recommend getting off supplements that can cause bleeding such as vitamin c, ginkgo, fish oil, vitamin e for about one to two weeks,” recommends Tucson, AZ dermatologist Sheila Farhang, MD. “Taking arnica and bromelain (found naturally in pineapples) before and after the procedure can help prevent bruising. Also, don’t forget the ice packs. They are super helpful to use afterwards for bruising and swelling.”