Whether it’s a side effect of selfie culture or Kylie Jenner, one thing is certain: lip augmentation has never been more popular.

Dermal fillers have been used for more than four decades, and other forms of lip enhancement, like silicone implants, have been around even longer than that. Today’s lip injections have come a long way since the bovine collagen of the 1970s. But it was the introduction of hyaluronic acid fillers nearly 20 years ago that really ushered in mainstream attention.

Even so, when many people think about lip injections today, images of supersized, fish-like pouts come to mind. Throw in a long list of myths and seemingly endless misinformation about the noninvasive procedure, and you’re likely more confused than ever, hesitant to do it, or even convinced it’s not for you. But rest assured, lip filler is far more straightforward than it may seem. Below, we break down all the details of lip injections, from choosing a provider and a product to duration and possible side effects.

What are lip injections, anyway?

“Lip injections or lip fillers are injections to the lips with hyaluronic acid fillers to augment, restore volume, improve lip shape, and give a smoother, more hydrated appearance,” explains Dr. David Shafer, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City.

“There are two general groups of patients who seek lip filler: younger patients, who wish [for] fuller lips or to improve the balance in size between the upper and lower lips, and older patients, who wish to replenish receding lips and reduce lipstick lines—also called “barcode lines’—that extend up from the lips,” says Dr. Heidi Waldorf, a board-certified dermatologist in Nanuet, New York.

And while the mere utterance of the words “lip injections” may have you picturing a lineup of Instagram girls with obviously tweaked, overfilled pouts, the procedure is 100 percent customizable, so you can do as much or as little as you please.

What’s the difference between each type of filler?

The fillers most commonly used for lip injections are Juvéderm, Juvéderm Ultra, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Juvéderm Volbella, Restylane, and Restylane Silk. And while they are all hyaluronic acid-based, each one differs from the next in their thickness and their look in lips.

“In my office, I like to use the Juvéderm Collection of Fillers, as they have the most diverse collection,” Dr. Shafer says (Dr. Shafer is a spokesperson for Allergan, the maker of Juvéderm). “Each filler is designed for a different purpose, so for instance, we use Juvéderm Ultra XC on patients who want more volume. And for patients who want very subtle changes, Juvéderm Volbella, which is the thinnest filler in the collection, is the answer.”

Ultimately, choosing which filler is right for you will depend on your personal goals, but your doctor should guide you with information on each. After all, they are the expert!

How should you choose a provider?

“Patients must remember that getting injectables is not equivalent to a hair or makeup appointment,” warns Dr. Waldorf. “Injectables are a cosmetic medical procedure with real risks that should be done in a medical environment.”

She suggests looking for a physician who’s board-certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties in core cosmetic specialties, like dermatology or plastic surgery. “Be sure that during the consultation, the physician evaluates your full face, not only your lips,” she adds. “And if the aesthetic of the physician and staff doesn’t fit yours, that is not the place for you.”

How long does filler last?

As a reminder, filler is not permanent. Each type of lip injectable boasts different longevity. At the end of the day, every person’s body metabolizes it differently. But there are certain benchmarks you can expect—usually between six months and one year, depending on the filler used.

However, some filler will linger in the body, meaning your lips retain a little bit every time, so the more times you get lip filler, the longer you can wait between appointments.

“The way I explain it to patients is that you don’t want to wait to fill up the gas until your gas tank is completely empty,” Shafer says.”Instead, you go when you’re almost out or when there is a gas station conveniently there when you know you’re always out of gas, so you’re never at the starting point again.” Therefore, as more time passes, you theoretically would need to get filler less frequently.

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