Angelina Jolie has the most enviable lips in show business, according to a survey of 2,000 women in the UK. The screen siren’s trademark voluminous pout has become adored by both men and women worldwide. But hot on her heels is iconic beauty Sophia Loren who has her own lipstick named after her.
Julia Roberts’s wide smile also made the top 10, along with Rita Ora’s recognisable red lips and the kissers of Scarlett Johansson and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini.
A quarter of women cited “fuller lips” as one of their biggest beauty desires, while 13% would like a bigger pout.
And thanks to dermal fillers, ladies and gents looking for volume and a perfect pout can get their dream lips in just one session. But with lip enhancement treatment still unregulated, unlike Botox anti-wrinkle injections which must be carried out by an Aesthetic Doctor or Nurse Prescriber, there are plenty of opportunities for cowboy injectors to exploit unwitting patients who want a perfect pout.
In the second of our Aesthetic Anonymous features, Natali Kelly, Aesthetic Nurse Prescriber, gives her expert’s opinion on the safety of lip fillers, what can go wrong, and what you should look out for if you’re having lip injectables for the first time.
How lip fillers work
Hyaluronic Acid seems to be the ingredient du jour for skin products and treatments. And with good reason. It’s found naturally within our skin and joints, and helps skin with volume and hydration. As we age, production slows down giving skin a hollowed out, crepey look.
Dermal fillers, such as Juvederm® and Restylane®, are injected in small controlled doses just under the surface of skin of the area to be treated. This fills out the sunken areas and lines to give a smoother, firmer and more refreshed appearance. Depending on the type of dermal filler used, results can last from 6 to 24 months. Used in the lips, they can increase volume quite nicely.
Juvederm® is a long-lasting smooth gel dermal filler made by the same company who created Botox, and is the only hyaluronic acid filler that is approved by FDA to last up to one year with one treatment.
Fillers come in different viscosities. Think watery for no volume but lots of hydration to damaged skin, and thick like syrup for lots of volume (like your lips or cheeks).
Have a thorough consultation
Natali says expect to spend around half an hour at a minimum with your practitioner for the initial consultation alone. And even though fillers aren’t regulated like Botox treatments, she says “the consultation should consist of a medical history being taken and discussed, including any medicines and allergies noted. The client’s desires and expectations should be discussed in detail, including shape, definition and volume.”
Your practitioner should also take a psychological and physical assessment and explain the procedure, the brand of filler they use, the possible side effects and the aftercare you need.
Changing your mind
The consultation should just be a first step, a chance for the practitioner to make sure you’re an appropriate candidate for the treatment and for you to be comfortable with the products used, the treatment and aftercare on offer. Having a consultation before the treatment gives you the opportunity to “research the treatments and return with any questions”, Natali says.
You might also prefer some at-home preparation before you face the needles, such as using arnica or Bromelain pills to help reduce risk of bruising. “I also usually ask clients to avoid blood thinning medicines like aspirin and alcohol, as this can greatly reduce the risks of bruising,” Natali adds. Fillers should also be planned on a day you have no commitments or meetings as swelling might make you look a little pouty afterwards.
Listen to your injector
Natali says that an expert injector should have a discussion with a patient to decide on a treatment plan together, based on the physical assessment and their expertise as well as the patient’s desired results. “Depending on the client’s lips and anatomy, large amounts of lip filler may not be suitable,” explains Natali. So while you may be pining for a pout like Angelina’s and think a full syringe or two will work, your practitioner might well advise against it.
Know the filler being used
You should be able to ask to see the exact product being used, see it opened from a sterile packet, and confirm whether it’s suitable for the delicate lip tissue. If they’re using a brand of fillers not specifically created for the lips, question that decision.
Natali says you can reduce the risk of experiencing side effects by making sure you have a filler brand that has been specifically approved for treating the lip area, as the skin here is so much thinner than elsewhere on the face. However, that’s not a given; if your injector doesn’t perform the treatment well, you can still end up with disappointing results.
“Poor injection technique, including the number of injections and if it was injected with force, can all greatly contribute to soreness and swelling,” says Natali. She explains that a skilled injector will inject even amounts of filler into the right layer of skin tissue, massaging gently as they do so to help it settle evenly and give you the best results.
What happens next?
A reputable practitioner will make sure you’re happy before you leave the treatment room, and supply you with both aftercare advice and contact details of the clinic and an out-of-hours service that you can contact if you’re worried about anything. “We would always invite a client who has any concerns to return to the clinic,” Natali adds.
Have you had lip fillers? Would you like to get a pout to rival Angelina’s? If you have any questions for our Aesthetic Expert Natali, leave a comment below.