We all look in the mirror and see things we love and things we wish we could change, whether it’s a pocket of cellulite on our upper thigh, deep wrinkles that just won’t fade, or in my case: thin lips.
I didn’t really notice it until about eighth grade, when I started “dating” and my appearance became more important to me. My girlfriends would make silly comments about how I’d apply lip gloss—one swipe was enough to cover both lips. My family also chimed in with little jabs every now and then about my “mirror face.” I’d push my top lip out with my tongue just enough to see the lips I wish I had, which really did have an effect on my overall look. Anytime I saw my reflection, the “face” appeared automatically. I didn’t even know I was doing it.
Fast-forward to last week, when the opportunity to get lip injections presented itself and I thought long and hard about it. I knew I wanted it, but I was also really scared. I asked around to some other editors and friends, and many of them said that the lips hurt the worst in terms of injections, and not to do it. But, I wasn’t convinced it was as terrible as they made it out to be. I did a lot of research and mustered up the courage to make the appointment. I knew the treatment was safe (and temporary!) and that the result would be worth it—not everyone will come out looking like Kylie Jenner. Plus, my mom and my fiancé supported me and knew how much I’d always wanted to see myself with a plumper pout.
The day of my appointment (I recommend choosing a Friday if you can so you have the weekend for the swelling to go down), I woke up nervous but excited. I arrived at the office of West Palm Beach, FL, dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD, ready to go and I knew I’d be in good hands. We took some “before” photos and then headed into the treatment room.
First thing to note: the type of numbing you’d like. Some people will tell you to opt for the lidocaine cream, which gets rubbed all over your lips about 20 minutes before the injections. Others prefer a nerve block, which is an injection inside the mouth similar to novocaine at the dentist. And then there are the fearless few who say you don’t need any numbing (I’m brave, but not that brave!). I settled for the nerve block, which Dr. Beer recommended. This involved four tiny injections into my gums (two on top and two on the bottom—they were quick and felt like a little pinch), which numbed my lips entirely after just a few minutes.
Dr. Beer asked to make sure I felt completely numb, and then it was off to the races. There are a few different options for fillers when it comes to the lips, but I chose Restylane Silk, a hyaluronic acid filler that gives a really smooth, natural-looking result. The thing that makes my treatment different than the standard Restylane Silk lip injection, is that Dr. Beer used a microscopic needling technique (not to be confused with microneedling on your skin). He transferred the contents of one full syringe of the filler into four microneedle syringes (see below; the microneedle is on the left compared to the standard needle), which allows the injector to give a better, more precise result with the slightest amount of trauma to the lips (swelling, bleeding, etc). Dr. Beer explained it as a “low-pressure, small-volume injection that gently reinflates the lips to their normal volume for beautiful results on a consistent basis.” He also mentioned that this method is a little bit more time-consuming and costly than your typical injections, but it tends to be the difference between a really stellar injection and an average one.
So I’m sure you’re wondering about pain. Honestly, I only felt one pinch on my bottom lip the entire time. The numbing took care of everything and I was shocked by the ease of the whole thing. A few other editors who have had lip injections also mentioned that I might feel pain start to sink in a few hours afterward, but I didn’t experience that at all. My lips felt tight and a little sore if I tried to purse them, but not painful. My top lip was a bit stiff for about 24 hours, but my swelling was pretty minimal thanks to the microneedles. This is definitely the way to go if you want natural-looking fullness with minimal downtime. And, if for any reason you don’t like your result, your doctor can inject hyaluronidase into your lips to dissolve the filler. But, know that the swelling (and any apparent unevenness, etc) will go down eventually.
Two post-treatment things I will point out that I wasn’t aware of beforehand. First, my lips felt pretty firm (certain spots more so than others) for about a week, like I could feel the actual filler in them. If this happens to you, don’t worry, it will go down and your lips will eventually feel like normal lips. Each person’s body will handle the swelling and firmness differently. Second, my lips were incredibly dry (they actually peeled a little bit) for about three days. Thankfully I asked another editor about this and she told me it was completely normal and that I should just keep applying Aquaphor or something similar, which I did.
As far as my results go, they should last about six months, and even longer if I’m lucky. I think it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with my new lips. It took me a few days to train myself not to make my “mirror face” when I saw my reflection. Funny how the brain works! I’ve gained a major confident boost and I’ve never been more eager to wear bright lipstick, whereas before I stuck to muted tones that wouldn’t accentuate my tiny pout. For a beauty editor, that’s like winning the lottery.
And as a personal note, I just want to say that cosmetic enhancement shouldn’t come with such a stigma attached. If there’s something about yourself you wish were different or bigger or smaller or prettier, know that there are options to fix it without going overboard, and many of them are temporary solutions. We should support each other for wanting to look our absolute best instead of criticizing. If something makes you feel good, get out there and do it!