Lip Filler Aftercare: Essential Tips and What to Avoid

Woman touching her lip.

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Looking to enhance your pout? Lip fillers can help plump upper and lower lips with relatively little downtime and disruption to your lifestyle. There are various fillers on the market; the type of filler you choose is something to mutually agree upon with your surgeon.

And although injectors vary in their techniques from patient to patient based on things like individual anatomy and desired results, there are some things everyone should avoid after getting lip fillers. As with any invasive procedure, cosmetic or otherwise, it's vital to have a comprehensive discussion with your surgeon about aftercare. But if you're considering lip fillers, board-certified plastic surgeons Samuel Lin, MD, and Steven Williams, MD, suggest you consider these minor adjustments to enhance your aftercare.

Meet the Expert

  • Samuel Lin, MD, FACS is a board-certified plastic surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, where he is co-director of the Harvard Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Fellowship. 
  • Steven Williams, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon, vice president of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and founder of Tri-Valley Medical Plastic Surgery in San Francisco.
  • Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology. She is also a Byrdie Review Board member.

Lip Fillers 101

Lin notes that there are various types of lip fillers on the market. "Most commonly, hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Restylane or Juvederm, are used," he says. "For patients seeking lip filler, I recommend hyaluronic acid fillers because they can be dissolved if there is a complication or if the patient chooses." He also notes that surgeons can deploy different types of injecting techniques. "Rather than claiming one technique as superior, I recommend that injection technique be tailored to each patient’s individual goals and anatomy."

Although getting lip fillers is a quick procedure—it typically only takes 15 to 30 minutes—Williams emphasizes that "any injectable procedure should be treated like all other invasive procedures. That means it's important that a patient has proper consent of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the procedure being contemplated."

Both surgeons note that the procedure is not totally painless, but it is usually tolerated by patients who typically experience minor discomfort. In some cases, a numbing agent may be used. Prior to injection, lips are cleaned and disinfected. "The provider uses a thin needle to inject hyaluronic acid filler, re-volumizing lips," explains Williams. "Most filler products for use in the United States are designed as single usage or single dosage vials."

During the lip filler procedure, explains Lin, "the injector repeatedly injects, massages the site of injection, and evaluates the results to determine if and where more filler might be needed."

Following the injections, aftercare is key. "Trained providers are careful to look for signs of vascular occlusion, which can result in tissue or skin loss in severe cases," notes Williams. Both surgeons recommend follow-up with a physician to ensure the post-treatment course is going as predicted.

To help ensure the most positive outcome, there are several things to avoid after getting lip fillers.

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Trauma to the Lips

Williams advises patients to avoid any type of trauma to the lips immediately after treatment. Because the lips are made up of sensitive tissue, trauma is relative. "It is important to be careful to avoid trauma to the lips, including lip biting."

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Eating Foods That Are Too Hot or Too Cold

Williams also recommends that patients stick to eating moderately temperate food immediately following the procedure. Eating food that's too cold or too hot may "cause frostbite or burn lips if patients are consuming items that are too cold or hot." He notes that lip fillers alter sensations in lips immediately post-procedure.

Patients are cleared to eat spicy or salty foods post-fillers, notes Williams. Lin adds that "if your lips were numbed for the procedure, it is a good idea to wait until the numbing wears off before eating and drinking."

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Alcohol Consumption

According to Lin, to minimize the potential for bruising you should avoid alcohol consumption for the first 24 to 48 hours post-treatment. "Alcohol should be avoided for a few days after receiving filler because alcohol thins the blood and can make bruising worse." He also suggests you avoid alcohol consumption a few days prior to the procedure for the same reason.

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Using a Straw

Lin notes that in the immediate 24 to 48 hours post-procedure, it's best to avoid using a straw to drink. "The pressure and motion needed to use a straw may cause the filler to distort," he explains.

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Strenuous Exercise

It's best to avoid intense exercise or activity immediately following the procedure. "For the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, patients should avoid strenuous activity or exercise," says Lin. "These activities can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, which may increase swelling and bruising."

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Lipstick or Lip Balm

For at least eight hours post-treatment, Williams encourages patients to "avoid putting things like lipstick or lip balm on your lips." This is to help decrease the potential of infection.

Lin says balm or gloss "can be used as soon as 24 hours after receiving filler long as they are applied delicately to avoid putting too much pressure on the fresh filler. Your lips may be sensitive, so a bland lip balm may be most comfortable initially." 

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Sleeping On Your Face

Post-treatment, Lin recommends avoiding any activity that puts direct pressure on your face, like sleeping face down into a pillow. "This is to avoid displacing the filler while it settles," he says. To be safe, give yourself up to seven days, adds Williams.

"Once you heal and your lips feel like they are back to normal, you can go back to using your lips as you normally would," says Lin. "Generally, this takes a matter of days."

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Kissing

Kissing, like sleeping on your face, might interfere with how the lip fillers settle into your lips and should be avoided for at least 24 hours post-treatment according to our experts.

To help alleviate swelling, Lin suggests ice. "Twenty-four hours after receiving lip filler, you will likely still experience some swelling and bruising. You can continue to apply ice packs as needed to help with any swelling and tenderness." You can keep icing for up to seven days, or as long as you experience swelling.

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Smoking

Williams recommends people considering lip fillers refrain from smoking post-treatment. "This can cause vasoconstriction narrowing the blood supply and is generally to be avoided after any invasive procedure," he says.

For patients who smoke, Lin recommends stopping smoking for "a minimum of one week after treatment. Cigarette smoke interferes with healing and the act of smoking can distort the filler."

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Flying

You may also need to avoid air travel post-treatment to prevent additional bruising. Lin recommends refraining from flying for "the first week after receiving filler since the pressure changes on an airplane may worsen bruising."

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Visiting the Dentist

You'll want to avoid scheduling any dental visits after getting lip filler. "One of the greatest risks is having dental work done after lip filler," Dr. Nazarian explains. "This can induce trauma and infection. We generally recommend waiting two weeks after filler to have any dental work done."

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Gauging Final Results

It's tempting to assess your new look immediately post-procedure, but because of swelling and bruising, it's best to wait up until one week before gauging the success of your treatment. "As with any invasive procedure there can be bruising or swelling that can last for several days, but most patients can appreciate the final results after seven days," says Williams.

Lin says that it can sometimes take a bit longer before you can gauge the final results. "It can take up to a month for the filler to fully settle, so you may or may not feel like your lips look slightly overfilled two weeks after the procedure." You can, he says, expect the results to last up to one year, depending on what type of filler was used. "Hyaluronic acid-based lip filler lasts about six months to a year, depending on how fast your body breaks down the filler."

Both surgeons note that if at any time post-treatment you have any concerns about the results, even within one month after receiving injections, you should reach out to the injector.

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