What to Expect From Your Cosmetic Injection


Kelli Miller

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smiling woman

Laugh lines are nature's way of showing us that we've smiled often. But, as some people get older, they find these wrinkles around the mouth and lips are nothing to grin about. And since our lips thin as we age, your smile might be lacking the fullness you once loved.

Cosmetic (or dermal) fillers can help soften those lines around the lips, plump your pout, and make you look a bit younger. This type of "facial rejuvenation," as it's called, is the second most common nonsurgical cosmetic procedure among women and men.

How Do Cosmetic Fillers Work?

Aging and smiling work together to create the telltale signs of the march of time around the mouth and lips. As we grow older, the face loses fat. Smiles and laughter stretch the skin. Lips lose volume. Over time, lifestyle habits like smoking and soaking in the sun further damage the skin. Wrinkles are born.   

Cosmetic fillers contain materials like collagen or hyaluronic acid that plump up the skin and restore volume. This essentially irons out the wrinkles. 

If you want to get rid of laugh lines or fine lines, your provider will inject the filler into the tissue in your cheek area around the mouth. For a perkier pout, your doctor will inject cosmetic filler directly into your lips. The procedure takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

How Soon Will I See Results?

Go ahead: plump those lips or erase those smile lines during your lunch break, if you like. You'll see results right away and can go back to work as soon as you're done. If you need to wear makeup, you might schedule the shot for later in the day, before you head home. Experts suggest going makeup free (at least around the mouth area) until the next day so the injection site can heal.

Studies show that people are generally happy with their cosmetic filler results. But it's important to be realistic. Plastic and cosmetic surgeons emphasize the goal is a natural appearance. Even young people have laugh lines. You don't want to erase them all or the result could look unnatural.

How Long Do The Results Last?

Cosmetic fillers are not typically a one-and-done procedure. Sure, you'll see the smile lines fade as soon as you get a shot, but the results don't last forever. Depending on the type of filler, results can last anywhere from three months to five years. With most fillers though, you'll need replenishment shots every 9 to 12 months. Keep in mind that health insurance doesn't cover the procedure. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

Some people bruise a little bit after the injection. You're more likely to have this side effect if you take blood thinners, like aspirin or warfarin, or certain herbal supplements. Ask your doctor if there are any medicines you should avoid before getting a cosmetic filler. Never stop taking any medicine before talking to your doctor.

Some other common side effects are:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Itching

Some people who have had cosmetic fillers have also developed infections, changes in skin color, and skin lumps and bumps.

It’s rare, but people may be allergic to the filler material. This can lead to a sudden and severe life-threatening reaction. Call 911 or go to the hospital immediately if you have trouble breathing, rash, hives, or tightness in your throat after getting a cosmetic filler.

How Do I Care For My Face After the Procedure?

You don't have to do much after your shot. Your doctor might suggest staying out of the sun or skipping a strenuous workout for the first 24 hours.

To keep your skin looking youthful, follow these tips:

  • Use sunscreen every day. The sun’s rays can damage skin and lead to premature aging.
  • Choose high quality skin care products that are made for your skin type.
  • Manage your weight. Large swings in weight can speed up signs of aging in the face.

The Bottom Line

Wrinkles and thinning lips are inevitable as we age. And while fillers can make lines less severe, plump lips up, and leave you looking refreshed, they aren't meant to transform you into a new person. Find a dermatologist or plastic surgeon that you trust and don’t feel pressured to make too many changes at once. Remember—smile lines are a sign of a life well lived.

PHYSICIAN CONTRIBUTOR Close up of woman receiving injection in lips

Advances in Cosmetic Fillers

Dr. David Harvey talks about the latest opportunities for brightening up lips and aging gracefully with cosmetic fillers.
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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 14, 2018

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Medical References

  1. Dermal Fillers. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/dermal-fillers.html
  2. Paul Parker, MD, FACS, medical director of the Parker Center in Paramus, New Jersey.
  3. FAQs about Non-Surgical Facial Rejuvenation. Stony Brook School of Medicine Department of Surgery. http://medicine.stonybrookmedicine.edu/surgery/patient-care/clinical/plastic-reconstructive-surgery/patient-education/faqs-about-non-surgical-facial-rejuvenation
  4. Artefill. FDA. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/Recently-ApprovedDevices/ucm077416.htm
  5. Bellafill PMMA Collagen Dermal Filler - P020012/S009. FDA. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/Recently-ApprovedDevices/ucm430779.htm
  6. Top Five Cosmetic Minimally-Invasive Procedures of 2014. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/plastic-surgery-statistics/2014-statistics/top-five-cosmetic-minimally-invasive-procedures-2014.html
  7. Facial Filler/Injections. American Academy of Facial Esthetics. http://www.facialesthetics.org/patient-info/facial-esthetics/wrinkle-treatment/dermal-fillers/