Lip Fillers: the Basics

lipsFor many of us, one of the first signs of aging is not decreased volume in our lips. However, having an injection here carries minimal risks and can make a big difference in how young you look. Having fuller lips often makes people feel rejuvenated and more confident in their appearance. Lip fillers are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, as the procedure is quick, fairly affordable, and relatively pain-free. The recovery time is also short—a week or two—so you don’t have to take much time off work afterwards, unlike with breast augmentation or face-lifts.

Lip fillers will generally last just four to six months (though some can last for up to two years), depending on how fast your metabolism is, where you’re injecting the filler, and how much volume you’re looking to add to your lips. Our bodies are all unique, which means that they react to the contents of the lip fillers in very different ways. 

When we make these changes, we want them to last. But as long as you build into your expectations of lip fillers the fact that, like a good hair dye job, they do require some upkeep now and then, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of this simple procedure. Choosing a right cosmetic surgeon is also really important for the longevity of lip fillers. Checkout our lip fillers service page for more information about our treatments, pricing and before and after pictures. 


People began using lip fillers to change how their lips looked and to plump up their lips in the early 1900’s. Before that, cultures around the world valued the lips in different ways, and would place plates in their lips or would insert other materials to improve the person’s face and appearance. In the US, people first tried inserting paraffin (you know, the wax used in candles) to puff up their lips. This didn’t work all that well. Later, in the 1960’s, they began using liquid silicon, though this was soon decided to be too risky. Twenty years later, surgeons began making use of collagen from cows, which started to take off. The drawback was that you were required to take a test to make sure you weren’t allergic first, which could take a few weeks. Then, you’d have to wait even longer after the injection to see a change in your lips. On top of this, the collagen didn’t last too long. Now, the process is thankfully a whole lot faster.

Since the 1990’s, many celebrities have gotten lip fillers, and they continue to be one of the most popular treatments around.

Now, the most common lip fillers are:

  • Autologen: This is a filler created from the dermis of the patient, which means that there’s no chance the person could be allergic to it. However, as you can probably guess, the filler is broken down by the body fairly quickly because it is so familiar.
  • Dermalogen: This material is, like autologen, removed from the skin of the person wanting the injection. It takes the body a bit longer than collagen to absorb.
  • Collagen: This is the material that acts like the body’s glue, and is sometimes taken from cow skin. How long does this last? Around one to three months. You will also need to take an allergy test and wait for the results.
  • Alloderm: This is a kind of filler that is removed from cadavers. It is first treated in a lab and then administered to the patient.
  • Radiance: Also, like alloderm, made in a lab, this filler makes use of the properties of bone to add volume and shape to lips. It’s the longest lasting of the fillers; the body can take from three to five years to absorb it. It does carry a risk of deformities appearing in the lips after the injection, though this is fairly rare.
  • Gore-Tex implants: Yes, the same type of material that’s in your rain jacket. This is sometimes used to improve the appearance of the lips.
  • Human fat: This is a more involved procedure than many of the filler treatments. A surgeon will remove fat from a part of your body where you might have extra and will place it inside your lips. This can last around four to six months, as, like with autologen, your body breaks it down quickly because it’s familiar with the contents.
  • Restylane: This is a gel-like substance that imitates hyaluronic acid, the material that keeps your skin cells hydrated. Its lasts around the same amount of time as human fat does: six months.
  • Product J: This is similar to Restylane, though it is sometimes simpler to inject and produces slightly more uniform results.  


Most products you’ll find out there use collagen (which puffs up the lips) and hyaluronic acid (which utilizes the water already in your lips to create a fresh, hydrated, full look). Generally speaking, the hyaluronic acid fillers often last a while longer than collagen fillers.

So, which lip fillers should you get?

We already know that how long our fillers last depends on what our lips look like prior to the treatment, on our body and how fast we metabolize, and on how much filler we’re having inserted (i.e. how many syringes we’re purchasing). Some of the products that last the longest are those that contain hyaluronic acid, the body’s natural hydration substrate. These include Restylane, Belotero, Vollure, and Product J. Even with these products, because you do move your lips quite a bit, your body will start to break down the contents over the next six months to a year, though for certain people these fillers can last longer.

A surgeon will take a look at the contouring and general shape of your lips before the injection, and will make a choice based on what you’re starting with about how much volume you should add and which fillers will work best for you.

Are you thinking that you want something a bit more permanent, so that you don’t have to keep scheduling and paying for appointments? Does a one-off procedure sound better to you? Some people do opt for lip implants (these often contain liquid silicon), which can always be removed. These will cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000, depending on the surgeon. We’re fans of a more gradual process; with dermal fillers, you can add volume bit by bit without overly stressing your body.

As always, make sure you’re doing your homework when it comes to these treatments, so that you understand what’s involved. You may have to take a few days off of work, for instance, or arrange for something to help with the pain.

What should you expect during and after a visit?

There will be some pain or discomfort during the injections, and afterwards you may experience some bruising and soreness for up to two weeks. Depending on your doctor, he or she may use something like a topical gel to numb the pain or what’s known as a dental block. Many doctors recommend icing your lips for the first day or two after you return home.

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