Who doesn’t want a plumper pout? And yet, when we see that bee-stung pucker on other women, we can’t help but wonder: Are her lips the result of genetics (à la Angelina Jolie), clever makeup skills, or—gasp!—lip injections? We blame the stigma around lip injections partly on the current no-makeup makeup trend, and partly on the fact that, in our culture at least, no one likes to admit when they get work done. But lip injections are happening, and if you’ve ever been curious, even for a second, about how much lip injections cost, how they work, or if you should get them, it’s time to stop screenshotting strangers’ lips on Instagram and get informed.
We spoke to Michael Lin, MD, a Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist, and asked him everything we’ve wanted to know, from the price tag to the pain factor.
Keep scrolling to see what he had to say.
First things first—we asked Lin how much control the patient really has over the outcome (we’ve all seen the worst-case-scenario post-injection photos… shudder). “When a patient comes in asking for fuller lips, I like to start by discussing how they would like their lips to look,” Lin says. “This step is extremely important because I want to make sure that what they are looking for is achievable and will match the overall shape and structure of their face.” For example, if someone has smaller facial features, they may look strange with lips that are too full. “Different facial structures will dictate what lip shape and volume will be appropriate,” he says. “The lip shape is actually more important than the volume.”
After the patient decides on the size and shape, Lin tells them about the different treatment options and his recommendations for what will suit them best. In terms of the actual process, he says there are options that contain lidocaine, a common local anesthetic, to make the process as painless as possible. Or, you can ask for a numbing cream 15 minutes before the treatment. “Sometimes, we do nerve blocks to numb up the entire lip area,” he says. The whole process takes less than an hour, and Lin says most patients can come in for a consultation and leave the same day with a plumper pout.
The most common treatment patients ask for involves hyaluronic fillers, which are injected below the outer layer of the skin. You might recognize hyaluronic acid as a primary ingredient in the skincare you use, but it has more than that going for it. “Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in the body and is the main ingredient in FDA-approved fillers you may have heard of like Juvederm and Restylane,” Lin explains. Based on the placement of the filler, your lips can be volumized, reshaped, and redefined.
Something to always consider when you're interested in cosmetic surgery is the cost, because it can be a lot. It depends on how much you want to get done, but lip injections generally cost $500 to $1000 (however, in more expensive areas like New York City, you can expect to pay closer to $900-$1500). The average cost for lip injections at Lin’s office falls around $550 to $650 for a 1-cc syringe. However, some people might want a fuller look—which requires an additional syringe (and again, more expensive areas like NYC and LA will jack these prices up a bit higher).
What about side effects? Lin assures us that the most common ones are temporary bruising and swelling, which can unfortunately come and go for up to two weeks. As for allergic reactions, he says they’re extremely uncommon. Talk to your dermatologist beforehand if you’re worried you might be sensitive to any of the treatments. The fillers themselves are long-lasting but temporary.
“On average, they last up to six months, but results may vary depending on your lifestyle factors,” he says. If you’re wondering what age is considered too young to get lip injections, Lin says most fillers are FDA-approved for cosmetic use among patients 21 years old and up.
If you're not into the super-plumped look of lip injections but are still looking for some more definition to your lips, there are more recent innovations to look towards—for example, a product called Restylane Silk and another treatment called Volbella, both of which were approved by the FDA for use in the United States a few years ago. Lin says of Restylane Silk, “Its clear gel hyaluronic acid formulation is specifically designed with smaller and smoother particles for more subtle lip enhancement and the smoothing of wrinkles and lines around the mouth.”
Not ready for lip injections? Try the lip-plumping hyaluronic acid treatment below.
Next, check out our essential guide for every different filler you can find (plus, where to get them).