Lip fillers are injections that give the lips a more plump and full appearance. They’re more generally called dermal fillers.

Four types of dermal fillers that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are:

  • hyaluronic acid
  • calcium hydroxylapatite
  • poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA)
  • polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) beads suspended in bovine (cow) collagen

Sometimes esthetic care professionals use lip Botox 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. But the procedure is not permanent, and you’ll need to get future injections to maintain the lip fullness the filler creates.

You may 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. If you have bruising at the injection site, it may help to apply aloe vera, vitamin K, or arnica creams, according to a 2015 review. It’s a good idea to check with your healthcare professional before using these.
  2. Apply ice to your lips afterward using an ice pack or an ice cube covered in a thin 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. 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 pain medications are OK to take in the days after your treatment. Normally Tylenol will be fine, but not blood-thinning medications like ibuprofen or aspirin.
  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 the procedure.

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

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol acts as a blood thinner, so you should avoid it for at least 24 hours after getting lip fillers. Alcohol can also 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’ll 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.

Side effects of lip fillers can occur within hours, days, or weeks after receiving the injections. According to the FDA, they usually go away within a short period, but occasionally may arise weeks, months, or years later.

These side effects include:

  • bruising
  • itching
  • swelling
  • pain and tenderness
  • redness
  • rash

In some cases, people may experience more serious complications. In these cases, you should see a healthcare professional. Read more below.

While minor side effects like swelling and redness are normal, see a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following 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 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 because most fillers include lidocaine, which is an anesthetic. It can take several hours to wear off after the injection procedure.


In one case study, a woman who was injected with bovine collagen developed hard swellings at the points where she was injected. Clumping, nodules, and bumps can occur with other types of fillers as well.

Lumps caused by the most common type of lip filler, hyaluronic acid, can be dissolved with a medication called hyaluronidase. But many lumps from this filler will simply improve with massage and time.

If lumps are caused by inflammation, healthcare professionals may treat them with corticosteroid injections, and they appear to go away in some cases but not all. Lumps and bumps resulting from dermal fillers can often be removed surgically if they don’t go away on their own.

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 or other dermal fillers that give the lips a plump, full look. The procedure is quick and minimally invasive and comes with little downtime. But make sure you’re having it done by a board certified surgeon or dermatologist.

They should make sure you’re fully aware of the risks and side effects of your procedure beforehand. 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 drinking or flying in the days after your procedure, lip fillers may not be for you.