How to Plump your Lips the Right Way

By Kat Prim, RNRegistered Nurse

If we did a quick survey about whether full lips are still a thing, we can all agree that they have decided to stick around and pout for a while longer. Nobody can ever truly predict trends, but in Victorian times, thin lips were the look everyone was going for, as thicker, fuller lips were considered vulgar. It wasn’t until the 20th century, with the advent of pinup girls and Marilyn Monroe, that a fuller lip became popular. Social media has only made it even more grounded in today’s culture. So, you say you would like that full lip look – there are ways to achieve that look in a way that enhances your face and doesn’t leave you full of regrets.

Let’s Talk About Lip Fillers

Lip fillers are a very effective way to achieve fuller, plumper, and more hydrated lips. They are a dermal filler used to add volume to lips by injecting a type of synthetic hyaluronic acid, which is a substance that is naturally produced by our bodies. We talk about how people want fuller lips, but there are different reasons why people may want to take advantage of this treatment:

  • As we grow older, our lips naturally start to thin out. Lip fillers can bring back that youthful lip.
  • Genetically, some people have asymmetrical lips. Lip fillers will even out their shape.
  • You can smooth wrinkles that develop around the sides of your mouth.

This type of filler eventually gets metabolized by the body, so the effects are not permanent. How long the results last depends on the product used as well as the patient. Some people metabolize the hyaluronic acid filler faster than others. Manufacturers state that lip fillers can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months, at which time you can choose to have the procedure done again.

Are lip fillers safe?

Absolutely. They are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this specific use. However, the FDA does not recommend them for anyone under 22 years of age or anyone pregnant or breastfeeding.

Advantages of Lip Fillers

  • Minimally invasive – compared to other procedures and fillers, this type of lip filler is minimally invasive, leading to fewer side effects. Plus, since the body naturally produces hyaluronic acid, there is less likelihood of an allergic reaction to the treatment.
  • No downtime – you can return to your regular routine after your procedure if you wish.
  • Reversible – if you are dissatisfied with the results, the treatment can be reversed by injecting an enzyme called hyaluronidase that dissolves the lip filler.
  • More control over procedure – the amount of hyaluronic acid substance can be controlled by the Provider depending on the effect you want. The treatment can also be given over several appointments to provide a gradual result.

What are the Risks of this Procedure?

It is always good to know what risks are involved in any procedure. FDA-approved lip fillers are safe when administered by a qualified Provider. Do your research! Look into the experience of your injector and establishment you are choosing to get your filler; NEVER purchase dermal fillers online or try injecting yourself. It is crucial to consult with a Board-Certified Dermatologist who has the knowledge and experience to get you the best and safest results. Some of the risks involved in lip fillers include:

  • Lip asymmetry – the chance your lips will not come out even
  • Lumps and irregularities in the lips
  • Infection
  • Injection into a blood vessel
  • Tissue loss
  • Ulceration
  • Scarring
  • Stiffening of the lip

Questions to Ask Your Provider Before Getting a Lip Filler

The first step towards getting results you will be happy with is to book a consultation with a Board-Certified Dermatologist. They will want to review your medical history and discuss your goals and expectations with you. This will allow the Provider to customize your procedure. Some questions you may want to ask your Provider include the following:

  • What is your expertise in administering these injectables?
  • Are lip fillers suitable for me?
  • Do I have any medical conditions which could prevent me from having this treatment?
  • What type of filler should I have?
  • How many syringes are necessary for my desired result?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What should I do for aftercare?

After Your Procedure

On the day of your procedure, your Provider will apply a topical anesthetic to the area. The filler may also contain lidocaine to help with the pain since the lips can be pretty sensitive. You will immediately notice the difference in your lips, with the total outcome one to three days after your procedure. Your lips may be swollen for a day or two. You may also experience bruising, soreness, and bleeding on the injection site.Recovery time is different for everyone, but following your Provider’s instructions for your aftercare will help. The swelling and bruising may last a few days and up to 10 days. To help with your recovery, use ice to ease the pain and swelling. Avoid strenuous exercise, do not sip from a straw, or do any puckering (i.e., kissing.) Be careful when brushing your teeth and while eating. Avoid touching your lips, and we do not recommend using any lipstick or other products on your lips for the first 24 hours. After that, you want to keep your lips hydrated and drink plenty of water.

Boosting Your Lips Naturally

If you decide lip fillers are not for you, or you are not ready to take that step, you can do things to help your lips look younger and plumper.

  1. Stay hydrated – not just good for your body; your lips will thank you too.
  2. Exfoliate your lips – this will help eliminate flakiness or dryness that keeps your lips from looking their best. Bonus, it gets the blood flowing to the area. There are many lip scrubbing products on the market. Ensure your lips are wet when exfoliating, and don’t scrub too roughly. Avoid exfoliating if your lips are cracked. For best results, apply a lip moisturizer right after exfoliating.
  3. Always keep your lips moisturized, especially since they are more delicate than the rest of your skin. It can be as simple as using lip balm. Make sure you get one with an SPF of at least 30 when spending time outside. In the evenings, you can use a hydrating moisturizer or lip mask.
  4. To give your lips an extra boost, use an over-the-counter lip plumper and some gloss. Plumpers have become quite popular and can be effective anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours, depending on the product. The gloss will give the effect that your lips are poutier. Yes, please! If your skin is sensitive, you might want to stay away from products that have vasodilators (ingredients that increase the blood flow to your lips, causing a plumping effect.) These will typically have a stinging effect on the lips.

Whether you are looking for fillers or any other type of cosmetic treatment, at Skin Cancer & Dermatology Institute, we work with you to help you achieve a natural, healthy look for any of your skin goals. Our highly qualified and experienced Board-Certified Dermatologists, Certified Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and Cosmetic Specialists are available to answer any of your questions. Book a consultation at any of our locations.


A graduate of Carrington College, Kat came to Northern Nevada in 1992 from Brewster, New York. She began her career in the medical field over 20 years ago and has worked in orthopedics, plastic surgery, and on a local hospital’s general surgical unit. She then found her passion for the world of aesthetics as a nurse injector. Today, she continues her aesthetic practice as a nurse injector and assists in Mohs surgery at the Skin Cancer and Dermatology Institute.