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Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring substance in the body that has the ability to attract water, helping your skin stay hydrated and firm. The synthetic form of this ingredient is used in some brands of injectable cosmetic treatments called dermal fillers.

While HA injections have been used cosmetically for wrinkles and other anti-aging treatments for years, they’re also FDA-approved for adding volume to the lips.

Learn about the potential benefits of using HA fillers for your lips, along with possible side effects, procedure steps, and more.

Like other types of dermal fillers, HA injections are strategically used by cosmetic surgeons to address concerns related to loss of volume. Specifically, HA lip injections may offer the following benefits.

Fuller lips

When performed by a licensed and experienced professional, HA lip injections are intended to make your lips look fuller and more youthful. These fillers may also help redefine the border around your lips, enhancing their overall shape.

Wrinkle reduction

HA lip injections may also be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth area. In particular, HA is useful for perioral rhytids (“smoker’s lines”) that run vertically around the mouth area, as well as smile lines.

Immediate results

HA injection effects may be seen immediately after treatment. This may appeal to those who are seeking rapid results.

It’s important to tell your provider about any underlying medical conditions you have before getting HA fillers. This procedure may not be appropriate if you:

  • have a history of blood-clotting issues
  • smoke
  • have diabetes
  • currently take immunosuppressive medications
  • are going through an active oral herpes infection
  • are pregnant or nursing

Even good candidates for HA lip injections may experience side effects from this cosmetic procedure. Speak with your provider about all of the possible risks before getting treatment.

Common side effects

Common side effects of HA lip fillers include:

  • temporary redness or purplish tone, and swelling of the lips
  • mild bruising and bleeding around the injection sites
  • temporary bumps or lumps that may arise around the injection sites

Any temporary pain or swelling usually goes away within 1 to 2 days after your procedure.

Uncommon side effects that should be seen by a doctor

You should report the following uncommon, but potentially serious side effects of HA injections to your doctor right away:

  • blisters around the lips
  • numbness or bluish coloring of the lips
  • severe swelling that won’t go away
  • vision changes
  • symptoms of an infection, like increased swelling, pigment changes, and drainage
Medical Emergency

Call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction, including:

  • swelling
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing

Prior to your procedure, your provider may recommend that you stop taking certain medications and supplements, like blood thinners. They’ll also create a “map” of your lip area to help plan for specific injection sites.

You can expect the following steps during your HA lip filler procedure:

  1. First, your provider will clean your lips with an antibacterial solution.
  2. To reduce pain during and after the procedure, your provider will apply a topical anesthetic.
  3. Once the anesthetic is absorbed in the skin, your provider will begin the injection process. After each injection, they’ll quickly massage the site and inject more solution, if needed.
  4. Both you and your provider will assess the results before pre-procedure markings on your lips are cleaned off.
  5. Before you leave, your provider may give you an ice pack to apply to your lips.

The total process takes just minutes, and you may resume most of your normal activities after your appointment. Depending on your comfort level, you may also return to work immediately after treatment. But you should avoid intense physical activities for 48 hours.

While your prospective HA lip injection provider will have samples of their own work, consider the following pictures as a starting point to get an idea of the types of results you may see with this treatment.

Most HA lip fillers contain lidocaine to help decrease pain during the injection process. Depending on the brand, each syringe may contain a combination of 20 mg/mL HA and 0.3 percent lidocaine. As a precaution, your provider may also apply a numbing agent to your lips beforehand.

To help decrease post-injection pain and swelling, your provider will recommend applying ice or cold compresses to your lips.

The effects of HA injections are temporary, and you’ll need regular maintenance treatments at least every 6 months to help maintain your results.

Still, the exact timeline varies, with some people needing maintenance treatments sooner than 6 months. In other cases, treatment can last as long as 12 months.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of HA injectables in 2020 was $684 per syringe. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery also says that injectable filler costs may range between $540 and $1,680.

Your own cost will vary by provider, as well as how many syringes are needed for your lip treatment.

As lip fillers are cosmetic procedures, medical insurance won’t cover the cost. You can help reduce the cost of your treatment by asking your provider about financing, monthly payment plans, or discounts for multiple treatment sessions.

Before committing to HA treatment for your lips, it’s important that your prospective provider is board-certified and experienced with this procedure. Examples include board-certified plastic or cosmetic surgeons, or dermatologists.

When conducting your search, you may consider looking for providers in your area via the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

You can also look for a qualified provider using the Healthline FindCare tool.

During your consultation with a prospective cosmetic surgeon, it’s important to also discuss possible alternatives to HA lip fillers. This way, you can make the most informed decision based on your desired results, budget, and recovery timeline.

Other popular cosmetic treatment options for the lips include:

Hyaluronic acid is a type of dermal filler ingredient that may be used for the lips. If you’re interested in using HA injections to add volume to the lips and decrease the appearance of wrinkles, consider speaking with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon.

It’s important to remember that while HA injections are considered non-invasive treatments, there’s still a risk for side effects. Lip fillers aren’t permanent, so you’ll need to prepare for occasional maintenance treatments to maintain your desired results.