Lip fillers are injections that give the lips a more plump and full appearance. The injections are composed mainly of hyaluronic acid. Sometimes lip Botox is done for a similar effect, but that’s not considered a dermal filler.

The lip filler procedure takes just a few minutes and is minimally invasive. However, the procedure is not permanent and you will need to get future injections to maintain a plump pout.

You might have swelling or tenderness and bruising after the procedure, though the side effects should be minor. Aftercare for lip fillers is manageable. If you’re unsure whether the procedure is right for you, it helps to be aware of what to expect during aftercare.

  1. Your lips will likely be swollen after the procedure. You may also notice some redness or bruising at the injections sites, which is normal. Most side effects will be minor, and you will be able to resume most activities once the procedure is done.
  2. Apply ice to your lips afterward using an ice pack or an ice cube covered in cloth (so it doesn’t stick to the lip and cause pain). This will help ease swelling, itching, bruising, and any other pain.
  3. Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 to 48 hours after you get lip or any other dermal fillers. Elevated blood pressure and heart rate from exercise may make swelling or bruising worse. You can take Arnica for bruising if your doctor approves. It’s fine to engage in light activity like walking.
  4. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help your body heal.
  5. Eat plenty of hydrating fruits and vegetables and try to avoid excess sodium, which may worsen swelling.
  6. Avoid high temperatures like steam rooms, saunas, or heated exercise classes for 48 hours after treatment. High heat can make swelling more pronounced.
  7. Ask your doctor which painkillers are OK to take in the days after your treatment. Normally Tylenol will be fine, but not blood-thinning medications like ibuprofen.
  8. If you’re getting lip fillers for a specific event, make sure to leave plenty of time in between the procedure and the event to allow your lips to properly recover.
  9. Try to sleep with your head elevated on pillows to reduce swelling. Do not sleep on your face.
  10. Avoid makeup on your lips for up to 24 hours after.

Here are a few other things your doctor will likely recommend avoiding after your lip filler procedure:

Stop smoking

Smoking can increase the risk of infection, so it’s important not to smoke immediately after getting lip fillers. You may also want to avoid being around others who smoke.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol acts a blood thinner, and should be avoided for at least 24 hours after getting lip fillers. Alcohol can cause inflammation, increase the likelihood of bruising, and make swelling worse. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol a few days before your appointment.

Don’t fly

Your doctor will likely recommend that you wait at least a week after your treatment before flying. This is because the air pressure in a plane can make swelling and bruising worse.

You will see immediate results with lip fillers, but once the swelling goes down, the results will not look quite as pronounced. It typically takes about 4 weeks for the filler to settle in and achieve the final, desired look. The results will typically last about 6 months.

While minor side effects like swelling and redness are normal, see a doctor if you experience any of these complications:

Intense bruising or swelling

If you experience intense bruising or swelling for more than a week, check in with your doctor. It’s rare, but allergies and reactions to hyaluronic acid are possible.

Vascular occlusion

Vascular occlusion happens when the filler is injected into or around an artery, which reduces or stops the blood flow. The surrounding skin and tissue will start to die without adequate blood supply.

Signs of vascular occlusion include immediate, severe pain and a change in skin color, which can look like white spots or blotches. It’s also important to note that the pain could take a while to become noticeable, as most fillers include lidocaine, which is an anesthetic. It can take an hour to wear off.

Cold sores

Your doctor will ask if you’re prone to cold sores, or herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). Dermal fillers can trigger an outbreak, which may require antiviral treatment. It’s best to discuss with your doctor if you’ve had herpes outbreaks after receiving dermal fillers in the past.

Lip fillers are injections of hyaluronic acid that give the lips a plump, full look. While the procedure is quick and easy with minimal down time, it should always be done by a board certified surgeon or dermatologist.

If you’re considering lip fillers, be aware of both the pros and cons. The procedure is easy and effective, but it can cause swelling, redness, and pain. If you’re unable to avoid smoking, drinking, or flying in the days after your procedure, lip fillers may not be for you.