With lips hot on the agenda this month, it was about time I followed through with my yearly intention of getting lip fillers. Prior to commencing a job in the beauty industry, a curiosity surrounding cosmetic procedures had always been present. In fact, I have a lengthy list of things I’d consider getting done – a list longer than I would care to admit, actually. While I recognise the importance of embracing our natural state when it comes to beauty, I too believe that the odd tweakment can only enhance – not hinder – our confidence levels. This was something I wanted to do, for me.
First, I’d like to admit that I have two core facial insecurities: my face appears lopsided – meaning I have more skin on one eyelid and one un-arched eyebrow – and I was graced with particularly small lips. Despite a love of lipstick and the art of overdrawing, I was yet to achieve the voluptuous definition I craved, continuing to lose my top lip to my gums whenever I smiled (school photos were traumatising). I had always acknowledged that lip fillers would be a good option for me but continued to shy away from the procedure at the risk of gaining – what some may call – a trout pout. In aid of this month’s Treatment on Trial, I headed to the renowned Karidis clinic in London (founded by UK leading plastic surgeon Alex Karidis) with the hope of achieving my perfect pout. Spoiler: I didn’t leave looking like I had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.
Before any procedure – surgical or, in this case, non-surgical, you will be invited to a consultation before any ‘work’ is carried out. For the sake of transparency, I’d like to point out that during the initial consultation, I opted for a completely different type of dermal filler treatment to what I eventually decided on. The treatment I had originally opted for was a two-step treatment that was new to the clinic, however it was explained to me by my consultant, Karolina (whom I trusted entirely) that this involved a large amount of product, which wasn’t necessarily the best option – especially on my first visit. The risks far outweighed the pros, with the prospect of unnatural, lumpy lips due to the filler having nowhere to go. I respected Karolina for informing me of this, especially as so many take the plunge of getting lip injections without really thinking about the possible – and undesirable – consequences. During your consultation, the right treatment for your desired goals will be outlined, as well as the associated risks, and what to expect at your next appointment. It’s advised that you avoid exercise (this was a pleasure – I can’t deny that) and hot drinks 24 hours prior to having filler.
THE TREATMENT – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Dermal fillers help to restore our skin and facial contours while plumping certain areas – in my case, the lips. At Karidis, Juvéderm VOLUMA is commonly used, which is the filler I was advised to proceed with. This type of dermal filler is an advanced, cohesive 3D hyaluronic acid matrix that is completely broken down within the skin over a period of months, eventually leaving no trace. Different amounts of filler can be used, depending on your natural features and what you hope to get out of your treatment. Most commonly, this will be 0.5ml or 1ml (a full syringe), though higher quantities are available for those who require it. I was advised to start with 0.5ml, which would allow me to begin stretching my dermal layer before working up to 1ml over a few sessions. This would also ensure the most natural result for my face – it’s always easier to add than take away.
Prior to your treatment, you will be offered a local aesthetic in the form of a numbing cream. This is placed over the surface area of your lips and left for up to 25 minutes to take effect. It goes without saying that not talking for that duration of time is painful in itself, and the sensation feels very similar to the anaesthetic you may experience at the dentist. It tingles slightly and can also numb the tongue, but as a first timer, I wouldn’t want to proceed without it. The filler is then injected into several points in your lips using a very fine needle, concentrating on both the outer contours and body of the lips. The process of dermal fillers is very quick – my treatment was accomplished within 15 minutes. After the filler has been injected, your consultant will massage your lips thoroughly to ensure all product has distributed evenly. This is key to avoiding any unwanted lumps.
WHAT IS USED FOR LIP FILLERS?
Juvéderm is one of the most common types of injectable. It’s composed of non-animal stabilised hyaluronic acid, which not only works to plump and define, but also holds water within your lips. When combined with the body’s own production of hyaluronic acid, it creates your desired volume. Because hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, the injected filler will be absorbed effectively over a period of time.
DOES IT HURT?
Your lips are extremely sensitive; therefore, some pain is to be expected. This, of course, depends on an individuals’ pain threshold and whether the local anaesthetic is used. I found some of the injections particularly uncomfortable – especially around the cupids bow, but it’s definitely bearable. While the numbing cream certainly takes the edge off, some types of filler also contain a percentage of lidocaine to provide extra anaesthesia, meaning your lips are numb for a longer period of time.
From your initial consultation, you’re informed that you’re likely to experience some swelling and bruising after the treatment. I was fortunate to experience minimal swelling and bruising, but my lips were tender. Thankfully, the symptoms started to subside after 24 hours. The tenderness and tightness can last for a few days after and full recovery is expected by the two-week mark – allowing time for the filler to integrate and attract water to the area. You’re advised not to wear makeup for 12 hours after the procedure, avoid smoking and massage lips regularly if you’re informed to do so. It’s also recommended that you sleep with your head elevated and avoid alcohol and blood thinners (NSAIDs) for 24 hours post treatment. Ice can be used if swelling is extreme but should be avoided too often as it can cause the filler to harden.
HOW LONG DOES FILLER LAST?
One of the most common questions when approaching the topic of lip fillers is ‘how long will it last?’ The answer varies. How long filler lasts is dependent on a number of factors: a person’s age, metabolism and even the time of year can all contribute to the longevity of filler. On average, lip filler lasts anywhere between 4 to 6 months – even longer if you have the procedure done regularly (allowing the hyaluronic acid to hit capacity).
HOW MUCH ARE LIP FILLERS?
Prices vary depending on the clinic, but for a reputable clinician, prices may be higher. Dermal fillers at Karidis start from £215, depending on the area being treated.