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Sure, Kylie Jenner may have 229 million Instagram followers, a brand new hair color for each day of the week, and a line of best-selling lip products projected to surpass the billion-dollar mark by 2022, but that doesn't mean she's any less immune to the pressures that come with growing up in the spotlight.
As even the non-celebrity population can attest, all it takes is one comment to set the tone for future insecurities and self-doubt. Try as we might; we all have that certain something. As Jenner once shared in an episode of her former reality show, Life of Kylie, her (now infamous) lips have always hit on a tender note of inner anxiety and insecurity.
In the famed episode, Jenner revealed that due to her insecurity, she opted for lip injections. And ever since, her lips have been part of her signature look—you might even say a thing of envy for some of us. Though you certainly don’t need Kylie-esque lips to look beautiful, we must admit we were intrigued—as much by her transformation as by the story behind it. So, we reached out to plastic surgeon Gary Motykie, whose Med Spa has seen the very likes of Kylie Jenner and her BFF crew. He filled us in on everything you need to know about getting lip injections, so that you can have your own set of full, plump lips.
Curious about Kylie Jenner’s lips? Keep scrolling to read all about lip injections, what to expect, alternatives, and why Jenner chose to get lip injections.
Meet the Expert
Gary Motykie, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon who practices at his office in Beverly Hills and is the owner of Motykie Med Spas in Los Angeles and Chicago.
What Are Lip Injections?
Lip injections, or lip fillers, are a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that involves injecting dermal fillers into the tissue around the mouth to give you fuller, plumper lips. According to Motykie, “Most people see results from lip injections for six months, but the majority of fillers can last up to a year.”
Benefits Of Lip Injections
Though “beauty” can and does take all kinds of forms, for those who want plump, full lips, lip injections are a cosmetic way to achieve this look. “The two facial features that most people want to draw attention to are their eyes and lips, and it's much more difficult to augment the eyes,” says Motykie. “Lip injections produce increased visibility of the lip, which may lead people to perceive you as more attractive.”
Why Do People Get Lip Injections?
“Most people elect for lip injections to balance out their features and create better facial harmony,” explains Motykie. “Of course, Kylie Jenner, Instagram influencers, and Instagram and Snapchat beauty filters have significantly increased the popularity of non-surgical lip augmentations.” Though it may seem like only a recent trend, Motykie says the interest in the plump-lips aesthetic has been around for decades. “Marilyn Monroe pioneered the full lip with her red over-lined lipstick, and full lips have been ‘in vogue’ ever since,” he notes. And, some women opt for lip injections to combat the normal lip thinning that accompanies aging. “Our lips also thin as we age, so I also see patients who start electing for lip injections in their 40s or 50s,” shares Motykie.
Why Does Kylie Jenner Like Getting Lip Injections?
According to Jenner, the reason she initially decided to get lip injections was due to a boy and a comment that he made regarding her then "thin" lips—which, in his opinion, was a telltale sign that she'd be a bad kisser. "I took that really hard. Just when a guy you like says that—I don't know, it just really affected me. I just didn't feel desirable or pretty. I really wanted bigger lips. I ended up getting my lips done," she said. Jenner then added that this kind of comment can have enduring effects when it comes to self-esteem: "It just sticks with you."
Motykie adds, “Kylie had naturally thin lips and grew up in the epicenter of beauty and plastic surgery, so a non-surgical lip augmentation probably wasn't that big of a deal to her," says Motykie. “Kylie created the ‘Kylie Jenner brand’ off of the attention her lips garnered. At this point, her lips are her signature like Britney Spears' mid-drift was in the '90s. I can't imagine disliking your lips if they've made you a billionaire!”
Though there have been periods that Kylie Jenner has removed her fillers, in times where she's been looking to augment her lips, injections are an option she's turned to.
What Are the Precautions With Lip Injections?
As for all cosmetic procedures, anyone seeking lip injections should go to a well-trained, experienced practitioner providing the treatment at an accredited medical facility. “I am not a fan of at-home or "drive-through" injectables because the patient risks lumpy, bumpy results, or worse, an inexperienced (or unlicensed) provider that could inject incorrectly,” notes Motykie, who says that when performed poorly, lip injections can be dangerous. “Incorrect placement of dermal fillers can lead to infection and necrosis (death of the lip tissue). Patients should read reviews, look at transformation photos, and research the provider prior to booking an appointment.”
How to Prepare for Lip Injections
The preparatory steps for a lip injection procedure are minimal. Motykie says that you should avoid unnecessary anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning products and medications, such as alcohol and Advil, before and directly after lip injections. These substances will not affect your final results, but they can increase swelling or bruising after the procedure.
What to Expect During a Lip Injections Treatment
“When a patient comes to Motykie Med Spa, first they complete pre-treatment paperwork, which includes their medical history, consent of risk, and whether they're willing to share their results on our social media channels,” explains Motykie. “Their injector, or a Medical Assistant, will take pre-treatment photos and apply numbing cream. While they numb, the patient will discuss their desired result with the injector, share photos of results or lips they admire, and discuss the type of dermal filler that will be used.”
Motykie shares two good pieces of news about lip injections: the injections themselves are pretty quick, and they don't really hurt. “The patient may feel a little bit of pressure or discomfort as the needle breaks the skin, but the discomfort is fleeting and subsides almost immediately.” And, he notes that the entire appointment averages only about an hour from beginning to end.
The cost for lip fillers varies depending on the product and injecting practitioner. Motykie says that in West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, a patient can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1000 for a typical syringe of filler, which generally is an ample amount of product for full lip injections.
Alternative Ways to Get "Kylie Jenner Lips"
Motykie says there are several viable alternatives to lip injections that can still produce a similar look, his favorite being a facial fat transfer. “This is a surgical alternative, but this procedure uses your own fat in lieu of dermal fillers. I harvest the fat from either your thighs or stomach, purify it, and inject it into the lips,” explains Motykie. “I love this alternative because it is much more cost-effective in the long run.” He says the results not only look more natural, but they can last up to 10 years. And, facial fat transfer can be applied anywhere dermal fillers can, so you can inject your under-eye area, chin, cheeks, lips, etc.
”The other surgical alternative is a lip lift, which shortens the distance between the nose and the top of the lip,” shares Motykie. “The scar is hidden in the interior of the nose, so it's a very popular procedure to combine with a rhinoplasty (nose job).”
If you'd like to steer clear of needles and knives, there are many lip-plumping products like glosses, masks, and serums marketed to plump and hydrate the lips, some of which we love. We are especially fond of Kaplan MD’s Red Poppy Perfect Pout Lip Duo ($24). There are also ways to apply your makeup that create the illusion of fuller lips.
Lip Injections vs. The Hyaluron Pen
Motykie says that there’s also a dangerous, off-label product called the Hyaluron pen that some people turn to. His advice? Don’t. The Hyaluron pen is a pressurized, spray injection of filler material that pushes the filler through the skin using a technique that was developed for people who have diabetes to eliminate the use of needles. “While pushing filler through the skin, you're also pushing through bacteria and anything else that is on the skin. This technique is significantly less precise because you cannot control the exact placement of the filler,” warns Motykie. “Many of the providers who are doing this are buying the products on the black market and performing this procedure in unaccredited facilities.”
Motykie says that the aftercare following lip injections is minimal. “Patients should avoid applying makeup to the treated area for about 24 hours,” he advises. He says that some patients may experience a temporary dryness after their injections, but it’s easy to remedy. “I recommend applying Aquaphor or Vaseline and drinking lots of water,” Motykie says. “If the patient is prone to bruising, or experiences bruising, they can apply Arnica gel or take Arnica pills.”
It's also recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol or taking blood thinners (unless medically prescribed) after the treatment for a day or two, as these can increase swelling and bruising. Lastly, it may be wise to cancel gym day. “Out of an abundance of precaution, we ask patients to avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after injections,” Motykie shares.
The Final Takeaway
Jenner's honesty about the situation surrounding her initial decision to get lip injections is refreshing. And hopefully, it will inspire viewers to talk about their insecurities rather than waging an internal battle against their bodies. Lip injections are a way to achieve the look of plump, full lips if that’s something you’re after. But, we also think there’s a lot to say about embracing your natural beauty. Whether you have full lips or thin lips, pouty lips, or pale lips, why not make that your signature look and wear it with confidence and pride.
Luthra A. Shaping Lips with Fillers. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2015 Jul-Sep;8(3):139-42. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.167269.