Lip fillers: Everything you need to know from a top doctor

It seems everyone from Hollywood A-listers and reality TV stars to Instagram influencers and regular people are dabbling in lip fillers these days. From a subtly plumper pout to a Kylie Jenner-esque transformation, people are seeking professional help to get a more voluminous look.

Last year alone, of the 15.7 million cosmetic, minimally invasive procedures performed in the U.S., 2.7 million of them were soft-tissue fillers, according to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

But with enough horror stories of lip fillers gone wrong circulating the internet, the idea of letting someone poke you in the mouth with needles for the sake of vanity could make anyone shy away. However, with few alternatives that offer the same results, lip fillers remain the top method for achieving fuller lips.

For anyone still interested in this procedure, Dr. David Cangello, MD, FACS at Cangello Plastic Surgery in New York City, shared with Fox News everything you need to know before you book your first appointment.

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Fox News: What exactly are lip fillers?

Dr. Cangello: Lip fillers are composed of Hyaluronic acid. The most common ones used are Restylane and Juvederm. They are injected into the soft tissue of the lip to increase lip volume and size. The fillers tend to be “hydrophilic” as well, which means they attract water and can add to the plumping effect of the filler.

Who is most likely to request this procedure?          

Although some men ask for lip fillers, it is mainly a procedure that women request. Women’s’ ages tend to range from the early 20s to 50s, 60s and 70s. It may seem odd that women in the latter three decades request lip fillers, but they do. The reason is that the lips tend to thin with age. They can also have more of a wrinkled appearance. Replenishing volume in the lips can restore a youthful appearance. Younger women who seek fillers typically just want plumper, fuller lips. I also see a lot of women in their 30s and 40s who were just born with thinner lips and want to see more of the pink part.

How long do fillers last?

Fillers for the lips tend to last a pretty long time. Usually the minimum is around six months, but I see it last nine to12 months and longer in a lot of patients. The nice thing about it is fillers tend to have a somewhat cumulative effect, where women who come back to have their lips refilled, even if it’s a good year later, haven’t really lost all the volume from the time before.

How much do lip fillers cost?

Cost varies, but it’s usually around $850 to $900 per syringe of filler. Most women can get away with one syringe. Someone who wants a more drastic change may need a second syringe.

What’s your take on the trend for big lips? Will it ever go away?

I do think that the trend of lip filling is here to stay for rather obvious psychosocial reasons. I think the lips are a part of the body that women like to have look “fuller” more voluptuous as that is commonly perceived as more attractive than having thinner flatter lips.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t get fillers?

The people that shouldn’t get fillers are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. While they would likely have no problem, we have not studied the effects and can’t say for sure if there could be harm to these women or their offspring. Also, anyone who has an allergy or hypersensitivity to fillers or any of their components.

What are the potential side effects?

Side effects or possible complications include minor swelling or bruising after the procedure. This usually resolves within one to three days. An allergic reaction is possible but rare. Infection is also possible but rare. Intravascular injection is always a risk with filler, but again, exceedingly rare.

What should people look out for when looking for someone to give them fillers?

A Board Certified plastic surgeon is key! You have to trust that the doctor can actually deliver good aesthetic results. The best way to assure that is by seeing pictures of the doctor’s work and reading reviews, or obtaining a personal referral from someone you know that has knowledge of the doctor’s work.

What can people do to avoid getting the duck-lip look?

This really comes down to the skill and artistry of the injector. Unfortunately, fillers can be done by almost anyone these days. Still, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is more qualified than any other injector, physician or non-physician. After you’ve chosen someone qualified, it comes down to the artistry. There is no “one approach fits all” with injections. The injector must have a true understanding for lip aesthetics to maintain the proper proportions and to be able to effectively create larger but nicely shaped lips.

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If someone gets fillers and hates them or gets a botched treatment, what can be done to reverse it?

If someone really doesn’t like their lip fillers, usually something can be done. I see patients who have come from other offices unhappy with their lip fillers. As long as some sort of hyaluronic acid filler was used (which is usually the case), it can almost always be dissolved with hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks it down.