Before Getting Lip Fillers, Consider the Following Steps

It's somewhat accurate to say I'm obsessed with myself, although not in a way that enables me to feel comfortable with what nature has given me. Rather, I am always in the process of changing myself. Much like a therapist incapable of taking her own advice, I often fixate on, and often envy, the striking beauty of others. My own well-being is rarely left alone, however.

Before Getting Lip Injections, Consider the Following Steps
[image: pexels by karolina grabowska]

Prior to a few years ago, my commitment to vanity was purely surface keratin treatments, at-home dermaplaning, hot tools, serums, supplements, and Swiss Kriss laxative facials. I had never undergone surgery or tried dermal fillers, or spent money on even one alteration. No, not because I am against plastic surgery (I come from a family of strongly pro-plastic surgery people), but because I didn't think about the fact that I didn't have to wait until I was 60 to get a full lift that I could make small tweaks along the way.

Truth be told, I was hyperaware of a standard of beauty that started to permeate and take over popular culture, and I found myself getting sucked into it. The more Insta girls I upward-scrolled past, the more my face started looking too ordinary, too unassuming, too earnestly natural. Even girls almost two decades younger than me sported big, pillowy, fake-looking lips, and I wanted in.

The following year, I received lip injections from two different board-certified physicians. Initially, I was bothered--I went to a buzzy, fancy practice my beauty-editor friends frequent, yet I felt as if I'd taken $900 and tossed it aside, Samantha Jones-style. During the visit, the doctor asked me nothing and seemed disinterested, leaving me feeling swindled and unhappy. As far as I could tell, there was no difference between the two, and I would have to pay more to see one.

By the time I visited doctor number two. New York dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Schwartzburg says the first meeting might have gone better if he was assertive about what he wanted. Schwarzburg spent time both studying my face and asking me questions in order to see a noticeable difference right away.

I chose one syringe of Juvederm, the same amount I had the year before, although Schwarzburg concentrated it all on my lips, while the previous physician used some on the skin around my mouth. We'll talk more about that and other crucial information I got from Schwarzburg below. Make sure you read this first before considering lip filler so you get exactly what you're looking for.

It is important to prepare mentally and physically.

When I first tried, I did not. Schwarzburg says the first step is to determine how big you want your lips to be realistically. Question whether you are willing to go from thin-lipped to Rihanna overnight. It will be obvious. There's no need to overfill your lips since it is easier to have too little than too much, Schwarzburg said. If you want to see a real difference right away, it is your responsibility to voice that especially since most doctors prefer their work to look hypernatural.

Schwarzburg advises patients to abstain from aspirin, Motrin, Aleve, fish oil, multivitamins, and vitamin E for a week before their appointment because each acts as a blood thinner and can contribute to postinjection bruising.

You can leave the Kylie photo at home.

There is a professional jury out on whether or not you should bring a photo with you. There are some doctors who like it and others who don't. A spokesperson for Schwartzburg compares it to taking your hairstylist a picture of what you want, but your hair type may prevent you from achieving it. Everyone's anatomy is different, and everybody's face is different, she said. Tell your doctor what you want and let him work with your mouth's configuration for the best result.

Schwarzburg confirmed the Kylie effect was quite real among women of all ages as well when I mentioned it to her. According to her, everyone wants her lips. I want lips like Kylie, they all say. You can do with that what you want.)

There are different ways for fillers to accomplish different things.

There was a time when women had to use only collagen. A variety of dermal fillers have replaced it, making use of hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body and is highly attracted to water and binds to moisture. Not to mention that it's relatively resistant to lumps and bumps. I did feel a few afterward, but they soon evened out.

Your doctor can provide you with the best recommendation based on your needs, but there is a smorgasbord. Schwarzburg, for example, recommends Juvederm to achieve a youthful, pillowy, voluminous look, while she recommends Restylane to achieve an I got my lips a little fuller but no one really will see it vibe, since it contains smaller particles. Volbella is good for filling in wrinkles around the face for older clients, she says.

Instagram looks don't come cheap.

Our culture is inundated with images of women with huge lips, but I didn't realize how much money it takes to achieve that look. One syringefull of Juvederm (1cc) is technically less than a teaspoon of material, but it was distributed in a way that made my results more visible than they were before, but they weren't overly dramatic.

I asked Schwarzburg how much filler the girls I see on social media get, and she said two to three syringes worth, if not more. Each clocks in at $400 to $1000, depending on location and practice as well.

Filler isn't forever.

To be honest, I wish it was. The length of time it lasts will depend on your choice of formula, but Schwarzburg says most last six months to a year. For this reason, if you're happy with your results, take plenty of pictures since they fade. Moreover, extending the filler is difficult since everybody metabolizes it differently.

After-care is minimal.

You can get back to living your life post-injection despite some information you may find online that causes you to fear. Aspirin is the only thing you should avoid, according to Schwarzburg. A glass of wine can even toast your new look. You're not supposed to drink alcohol before filler because you may bruise, but I have not noticed much difference afterward, she said. The doctor will place a cold pack on your lips after the fillers have been applied; he will recommend that you use it more as needed if it feels sore, but there's no need to keep it on your lips for hours. In two or three days, the swelling will go down.

Both of the doctors that I saw recommended that I avoid drinking from a straw and sipping hot liquids right after my injections. My body is still numb and burning, so that advice makes sense. Ouch.

Several treatment options are available, including gradual pace.

I told Schwarzburg what I wanted, but she still insisted on saving a little Juvederm from my syringe for later use. I told her to live with the gift I gave her for two weeks. As always, I sprinted back for my leftovers, but if you're feeling nervous or unsure, ask your doctor if you can use the medication gradually.

Bruising depends on the person.

For me, I had light bruising around my top lip, which can be painful, but following your doctor's advice (like ice, no Motrin, limit alcohol intake, don't touch, and try not to move for a few hours after), then you should be okay. However, since everyone's body is different, it is impossible to predict whether bruising will appear after your lip injections.

Is it really the result you're unhappy with?

Schwarzburg suggested that you have it dissolved. Fillers like Restylane, Belotero, Volbella, Voluma, and Juvedermare are made of hyaluronic acid, and as such, they can be quickly and safely dissolved by an enzyme called hyaluronase.

My lips still looked killer six months after seeing Dr Schwarzburg at Skinly Aesthetics. Based on the time frame, I noticed a slight decrease in volume. As you can probably see in the photos above, I'll probably have another round very soon. It is okay if you notice. As a matter of fact, I hope you do.

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