This Is What Getting Lip Injections Actually Feels Like

"It made my toes curl."

“Getting work done” is no longer the taboo topic it once was. With celebs like the Kardashians and Ariana Grande touting full, pillowy lips courtesy of fillers, in-office procedures like Botox or lip injections have become normalized in recent years. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, there were 18.1 million surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2018, which is nearly one million more than the amount performed in 2018. To say people are interested is putting it mildly.

Cosmetic surgeries are clearly on the rise. And although getting lip injections is nearly as common as getting a bikini wax nowadays, not many people talk about what it’s like to get the actual procedure itself. To gain some perspective on what it feels like to get lip fillers, HelloGiggles spoke to two women who’ve had their lips plumped. Each woman broke down the entire process of getting lip injections—from prep to the procedure and recovery—and they each have different takeaways.

Kendall Beck, 23, decided to get lip injections because of the opportune timing in quarantine. “I figured it wouldn’t be too obvious to everyone around me, because they haven’t seen me in a while,” Beck tells HelloGiggles. “Plus, we’re still wearing masks in public.”

Lucy Palmer, 30, opted for getting lip injections several years ago from her husband, an Alabama-based dermatologist. Although Palmer’s temporary fillers have since worn off and she hasn’t gotten them since, she says she “definitely will in the future.”

How do you prepare for getting lip injections?

Once you’ve done your research and found a doctor you trust, you’re ready to get injected. Beck got her lip injections from a doctor in New York City whom her roommate had previously visited and recommended. When she arrived at the office, Beck told the doctor she had a low pain tolerance, which increased her time spent numbing pre-procedure.

Before injecting the lip filler, Beck’s doctor applied a white numbing cream on and around her lips. “I had to let it sit for 45 minutes,” Beck explains. “He told me not to talk so that the cream wouldn’t get in my mouth because it tastes terrible. Of course, I ended up talking and found that the cream stung my tongue and tasted sour.”

As for the numbing effect itself, Beck compares it to the “tingly” feeling you might be familiar with from dental procedures. “I definitely felt it more around the mouth and toward the nose, too, instead of just the lips,” she says.

Palmer, who says she has a high pain tolerance, opted out of getting numbed pre-procedure. “I thought it would be like Botox: They push the needle in and boom, you’re done. It doesn’t hurt,” she explained. “But filler is different—I would definitely get numbed next time.”

Lips are one of the most sensitive parts of the body since they have a high quantity of receptor cells (specifically Meissner’s corpuscles), which detect touch, making the area hyper-aware of sensations—and therefore more conscious of pain.

So what does getting lip injections feel like?

Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty details of lip injections: the procedure itself. Both Beck and Palmer chose Juvéderm, one of the most common types of dermal fillers, which can be used on lips and cheeks. The hyaluronic acid-based filler can last anywhere from six to 12 months. Juvéderm is injected through a syringe, a medical tool made of a sliding plunger attached to a needle. Syringes can contain different levels of filler depending on how diluted the product is.

Once Beck was finished numbing, she laid back on the exam bed with a pillow behind her head. “I had a mirror in my hand in case I wanted to watch the doctor inject, but I decided not to,” she says. “He injected the filler gradually, letting me look now and then to decide if I wanted more or not.”

Beck says the process took about 30 minutes total, and the pain was sporadic, depending on the placement of the injections. “When he injected right onto my lip, I could only feel a little stinging,” Beck says. “But when he did it around the lips, that’s when I really felt it. It made my toes curl.”

The edge around the upper lip—aka the white roll—is the most sensitive area. However, although it’s “more tender” than the lips themselves, injecting filler into the white roll is what makes lips pop. “Filler in the white roll is what gives your lips projection rather than just volume,” Palmer explains.

Unlike getting Botox, which Palmer calls a breeze, lip injections are more of an intricate process. “Doctors thread the needle in and out your lip, your skin, or your white roll,” she explains. “As they draw back, the filler gets injected. Getting a needle threaded in and out of your lip doesn’t feel particularly great—I wanted to quit halfway through,” she admits.

Palmer’s lip fillers took between 10 to 15 minutes, and her husband used about 70% of the syringe. Beck, on the other hand, used about half of her syringe during her first appointment. However, she returned to the office about a week later once the swelling had gone down to get more filler injected. She ended up getting about 90% of the syringe injected into her lips.

Lip injection results:

Both Beck’s and Palmer’s lips were swollen for several days post-injections, and they were told to ice their lips as much as possible during the 24 hours following the procedure. If you’re worried that your lips are going to go from zero to Kylie Jenner-level plump overnight, just know that the swelling will gradually reduce during the days following the procedure. However, Palmer admits that the initial results were shocking and remembers thinking that her lips looked unnatural—but her dissatisfaction didn’t last long. After a few days, she says she wished she had gotten a little more.

Beck was happy with her lip injection results from the start. “I was pretty swollen, but other than that, post-procedure was simple—no pain or uncomfortableness,” she says. “I’ve gotten so many compliments, and other people haven’t noticed until I told them, which shows how natural they look.”

If you’re considering getting lip injections, make sure to research your options before diving in. But as you can tell from Beck and Palmer’s experiences, the short-term pain will likely be worth it if you’re looking to plump your lips.

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