GRAZIA Beauty Glossary is a recurring series that tells you everything you need to know in the world of beauty. It is your ultimate guide to knowing important skincare ingredients, beauty procedures, and trends. In this edition, we quiz Dr Hew Yin Keat of M.A.C. Clinic on some lip filler FAQ so you can stay informed before getting the procedure done.
Kylie Jenner and nearly every other American influencer do it. South Korean celebrities do it. Lip fillers have become so synonymous with every low-risk aesthetic procedure that nobody bats an eye anymore at the idea of it. While lip fillers sometimes get a bad rap for their overly voluminous look, they can give your face a completely refreshed look when done properly. Just take a look at South Korean actress Song Ha-yoon, who completely nailed the soft girl, innocent look with her plumped lower lip in Marry My Husband.
However, as with any aesthetic procedure, there will be room for risks. It pays to be educated and informed so you know what to look out for in case anything goes wrong. Below, find a comprehensive lip filler FAQ list carefully answered by Dr Hew that will keep you well-informed.
What are lip fillers?
Lip fillers are a type of non-invasive dermal filler injected into the lip area to increase volume, hence creating a fuller look. There are various reasons why people choose to get lip fillers, including wanting a poutier lip look, improving fine lines around the mouth area, or achieving a specific lip shape.
What are the main ingredients typically used in lip fillers?
“The safest ingredient used for lip fillers is hyaluronic acid,” explained Dr Hew. “It is [biologically] very close to what we have in our bodies; our body generates [hyaluronic acid] and it is very good for plumping up hydration.”
Hyaluronic acid tends to be the popular choice of product for lip fillers, but be wary of clinics that tout other forms of fillers which may be synthetic in origin and lead to more unpredictable results. While it may get the job done at the moment, it can form lumps and bumps even years later, making your lips look uneven. An advantage of using hyaluronic acid is that it will blend in nicely with the lip. “It integrates with the tissue that you won’t feel much difference between the normal lip and the filler—it’s very natural,” he added.
How long will lip fillers last?
Hyaluronic acid fillers will eventually be absorbed back into the body. “Hyaluronic acid formed by our body gets broken down very quickly, as it’s not stabilised. To create a filler, scientists harden it by adding other materials to strengthen and form bonds in between, making the fillers last longer. It may last anytime between six and eight months, even up to a year, depending on the product,” said Dr Hew. “One good thing about hyaluronic lip fillers is that if they break down, they will not leave any traces behind; it’s much safer for your body in the long run, as there won’t be any foreign material left behind to cause any complications in the future.”
Dr Hew also added that unlike synthetic lip fillers, hyaluronic acid ones can be broken down easily. “Say you don’t like how your lip looks after fillers; we can melt away the hyaluronic acid fillers quite easily,” he said.
What is a typical dosage for lip fillers? Does it work like Botox?
According to Dr Hew, there is no fixed dosage. “It depends on the volume needed in the lips. This comes from the doctor’s judgement. It will be a discussion between the patient or doctor; how plumped do they want it? What kind of shape? Patients will usually show me a picture of the lip that they feel is good or that they would look good in. Then we try to achieve those results. But sometimes when it is unrealistic, I would just tell them,” he said.
How painful are lip fillers?
Thankfully, technology has advanced and made the process of injecting lip fillers less painful than before. These days, according to Dr Hew, scientists have infused local anaesthesia into the hyaluronic gel itself, making the process more comfortable for patients.
Could anyone be potentially allergic to hyaluronic acid?
Yes, but very rarely, confirmed Dr Hew. “In all my years of practice, I’ve never actually come across anyone who was allergic to hyaluronic acid in the filler form.”
Who would hyaluronic acid lip fillers be unsuitable for?
Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should not opt for lip fillers, as you don’t want to interfere with any part of the reproductive cycle. You may also want to avoid getting lip fillers if you have broken skin on the lips. Other than that, most people are fine to get lip fillers, said Dr Hew. “Even if there are other medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension, it’s fine to get lip fillers,” he said.
Choosing the right clinic to get the procedure done is important.
Naturally, much research should be done on the clinics you choose to do your lip fillers at. “Doctors must make a judgement in terms of whether or not to do the lip filler, what product to use, and whether the product is safe,” explained Dr Hew. “This comes with experience; with more usage and over time, the doctor will have a better idea on how to get better and safer results.”
How should you prep your lips before getting lip fillers?
Keep your lips in a healthy condition; that means moisturised with no infections or broken skin. Avoid getting too much sun exposure before your procedure too, and apply lip products with SPF.
What sort of aftercare should you do for lip fillers?
Since most lip fillers contain hyaluronic acid and local anaesthesia now, you may not want to consume anything that is too hot or too cold after the procedure, as your lips may still be numb for several hours. You may risk burning your lip area because you might be unaware of how hot or cold the food may be. It may also affect the performance of the filler, such as reducing the efficacy of it. Consuming spicy food is generally fine but advisable to be avoided. The lip filler procedure, after all, is an injection, which means there are areas in the lip that may be prone to pain if spiciness affects that area. After 24 hours, however, the needlepoint wound would have closed off.
Can you kiss after getting lip fillers?
Dr Hew advises against kissing activities for a day or two after getting lip fillers, to avoid unevenness on the lip area.
What is the typical downtime after getting lip fillers?
One to two days. “Anytime we treat fillers in any part of the face, including the lips, they are sometimes initially a little uneven. Generally, after a while, it will distribute itself nicely and smooth out if it’s a good quality product,” said Dr Hew.
How much would you need to worry about filler migration?
“The good products won’t migrate far. In fact, they’re not supposed to migrate; they’ll blend in and smoothen out,” clarified Dr Hew.
What is a sign or symptom that you should seek medical help after getting lip fillers?
If it’s an allergy reaction, you’ll know something is wrong, said Dr Hew. “That sort of swelling would be massive in an obvious way like it had ballooned up. You might sometimes have swelling in other parts of the face too, which is somewhat concerning. Otherwise, if it’s just a little bit more swelling than usual, that’s normal,” he continued.