I vividly remember the day I made up my mind that I was going to go down the path of lip fillers. It was 2017 and it was the day I attempted to take my passport photo. When my mouth was closed, you could see my teeth peeping through. I found out that no teeth were allowed on a passport photo and my photo was rejected 3 times! Imagine being denied a passport simply because of the shape of your lips were in such a way that your teeth showed through. So unlike most of my generation, I wasn’t necessarily after Kylie Jenner style lips – I wanted beautifully shaped lips which complimented my facial features.
Fast forward a couple of years, I was working in retail, when my then boss and I were discussing lip filler. She had decided on a clinic and asked (knowing I was interested) if I would have the procedure done with her for only $199. I instantly agreed – I’d been putting it off for so long because I was too scared to go by myself. It was a chain clinic based at a shopping centre – so convenient (eye roll).
Foolishly and naively, I hadn’t carried out any research on the clinic myself. And looking back now, my first experience with lip filler was subpar at best. I filled out some paperwork and signed a consent form (does anyone actually read those… eye roll). I received a 2 minute speed consultation with a nurse. The entire consultation could have been simplified down to; “I want bigger lips” with the nurse replying “yes, I can do that”. The treatment itself was just as quick. When I left the clinic, I was incredibly swollen yet excited that I had finally ‘solved’ my problem.
Over the following 24 – 48 hours my lips became so swollen I did not leave my room, even to eat dinner with my family. I looked like a baboon (and not a cute one). As the swelling resolved over the following couple of weeks I realised something wasn’t right. My lips were asymmetrical, lumpy and you could still see my teeth peeping through (the entire reason I underwent the treatment!).
As soon as I could, I went back to the same clinic for another round of filler – because surely this will solve my problem, right? (Seriously, what was I thinking… eye roll).
Not surprisingly, the healing was just as bad the second time around. The results were better but still not what I had imagined. My lips felt firm and I struggled to massage away the lumps. Do you want to know what I thought might fix this? Another trip to the same clinic (eye roll x 100)
As you can imagine, things did not get better. Moral of the story – don’t be like me and please learn from my mistakes. So let’s assess what went wrong:
Firstly I never received a consultation with a Doctor. Not in person, not over skype, not a head popping through the door. A registered nurse is qualified to perform the procedure, however dermal filler is a prescription medication – meaning you must see a Doctor prior to the treatment or if there have been changes to your health. This is the current law and unfortunately, not all clinics follow the regulations. FYI: wrinkle relaxer is also a Schedule 4 medication and the same rules apply – you must have a consultation with a Medical Doctor prior to your treatment. If you go to a clinic and this is not followed, please walk away – who knows what other rules the clinic is short-cutting or blatantly ignoring.
The consultation that I received did not include a lot of important information. My treatment provider did not discuss how she would use the filler to resolve my concerns, nor did she discuss the healing process. The risks of the treatment were never explained to me verbally, I didn’t know what type of product was going to be injected into my lips and I was not aware of how many treatments I may need or how often I would need to repeat the treatment. This may have been due to the short appointment times, lack of knowledge or simply not placing importance on the consultation process.
The grade of filler I received was very low, which I should have guessed given the bargain basement $199 price tag (which actually ended up costing me $597). The poor quality of filler affected many things about my treatment. I was extremely swollen and took a long time to heal (3-4 weeks). My lips did not feel natural and the results faded very quickly. If I wanted to keep up the appearance of the filler, I would need to repeat my treatment every 3 months. Talk about maintenance!
Fast forward a year, when I met Dr Jane at COCO Skin Clinic. This experience was worlds apart from my initial treatment. The consultation I received was extremely thorough. My appointment time was twice as long as previous and no detail was spared. Dr Jane performs all the injectable treatments at COCO Skin so I felt comfortable knowing that the person who performed the consultation was also the same person who was doing the treatment.
Dr Jane carried out a full facial assessment to determine the right amount of filler for me and explained how she would shape my lips to look natural and compliment my facial features. She explained that it was important to respect the natural anatomy of the lips and that when it comes to lips – there is no one size or shape fits all. She focused on proportions, balance and creating harmony between the lips and other facial features. It’s what I was after from the start but wasn’t sure how to articulate.
Dr Jane then chose the type of filler she would use and explained why it was the most suitable for my treatment. My filler was expected to last 9-12 months, feel soft and natural. It also contained a numbing agent to make my treatment more comfortable. Topical numbing cream was applied and I was given ice during and after the treatment to minimise swelling.
During the treatment, I could tell Dr Jane was a perfectionist – she’d often take a moment to step back and asked me to make different facial expressions. She explained that lips need to look great from all angles and during dynamic movement such as speech (not just when you’re pouting). Considering the lips are the most sensitive part of the face, I was pleasantly surprised by the minimal level of discomfort I felt.
There was no comparison between my healing from this treatment and what I had experienced previously. I was swollen immediately after treatment, but nothing that could be obvious to a passer-by or someone who doesn’t know me and settled within 48 hours. This is due to the much higher quality of filler used at COCO Skin Clinic. Using premium filler also means once it settles, the product feels very soft and natural and lasts 9-12 months. Since seeing Dr Jane I have only needed a top up treatment every 12 months. I had a couple of small bruises which I could easily hide with lipstick. I’ve been told that I was lucky as most patients undergoing lip filler treatment will generally bruise to some degree.
Tip: If you are more prone to bruising, you can elect to have a Healite II LED treatment immediately after your lip filler treatment – this will decrease your downtime. And as a bonus – it’s the relaxing treatment – so much so that it’s hard not to fall asleep during it. But prevention is always better than cure so some recommendations from Dr Jane are:
- Avoid blood thinners 1 week before your appointment if not medically indicated (eg. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories, Aspirin, Fish Oil supplements, etc).
- Bromelin (found in pineapples) can help minimise the risk of bruising. Eat pineapples for a few days leading up to your appointment.
- Arnica (oral drops and/or cream) has also been reported to help minimise/resolve bruises quicker.
I wrote this blog as I wanted to share my lip filler experience – including the good, the bad and the ugly. Please don’t base your decisions on price alone – I now know that there is so much involved in lip filler treatment. It is a medical procedure and should be carried out with the appropriate precautions by a medical professional, using premium and TGA approved dermal fillers. If you are looking for high quality service and expert opinion on whether lip filler or any injectable treatment is right for you, I highly recommend booking in for a consultation with Dr Jane at COCO Skin Clinic.