How to Decrease Side Effects from Lip Fillers
Updated: Mar 25
Because the lip area is so vascular and tends to bruise much more easily than other facial areas, lip injections can result in bruising and swelling. While it may be impossible to avoid these side effects altogether, you can instruct your patients to follow these general guidelines to help decrease their severity and longevity.
1. Avoid Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories
One of the most important pre-treatment instructions is to avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen for at least ten days prior to lip injections to minimize bruising. Similarly, patients should also avoid taking certain vitamins and herbal supplements, including St. John’s wort, vitamin E, fish oil, flaxseed oil, ginseng, ginger, garlic, and omega-3 fatty acids for ten days before getting lip filler.
2. Use Arnica Patches Before and After
On the other hand, taking arnica supplements or using arnica patches both before and after lip fillers can help to decrease bruising and swelling. These products contain both arnica and bromelain, which is also abundant in pineapples. For this reason, eating pineapple while you recover from lip injections may also help to decrease side effects.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol can contribute to swelling and bruising, as well as hinder the body’s healing process, so patients should avoid drinking alcohol, especially red wine, for at least 24 hours before and after their injections.
4. Do Not Purse Lips
In our Miami practice, we advise our patients to try to avoid pursuing their lips, sipping hot soups, drinking through a straw, or working out strenuously right after their lip injections. Not only can this help to reduce side effects, but it can also help to give the filler time to settle into place for optimal results.
5. Don’t Smoke
While smoking isn’t a contraindication for getting lip filler, it can lead to complications during the healing process, as nicotine tends to increase bruising and slow the body’s healing process. Additionally, smoking requires pursing of the lips, which should also be avoided directly after getting lip filler, as mentioned above.
6. Stay out of the Sun
Protecting the skin and lips from the sun’s harmful UV rays is important no matter what, but it is even more important after getting any kind of cosmetic treatment, including lip fillers. Sun exposure can increase bruising and discoloration, as well as lead to dry, chapped lips and sunburn. Patients should be encouraged to wear SPF lip balm like Coola or Fresh any time they are going to be outside or even driving, as UVA light can penetrate glass.
7. Don’t Exercise After Lip Injections
Increases in blood pressure and body heat will increase the incidence of bruising. For this reason, I ask patients to avoid hot and rigorous workouts for 48 hours after getting lip injections. If they must exercise, have them keep an ice cold water bottle with them to roll on the lips to keep them cool.
8. Consider VBeam Laser Treatments
If bruising does occur, VBeam laser treatments help to shorten the course of the bruise. Studies have shown that the VBeam laser can reduce signs of bruising by up to 63% within 48 to 72 hours after cosmetic treatments such as lip injections.
9. Schedule Lip Injections 2 to 3 Weeks in Advance of a Social Event
Even though lip fillers are relatively quick and easy to perform, it is important for patients to understand that they will have down time such as swelling and bruising. While patients will notice an improvement in the size or shape of their lips right away, it can take up to two weeks for the swelling to calm down. (For the first few weeks, the lips can swell when the patient eats salt, gets hot, or has excessive friction to the lips.)
Recommend that your patients schedule their lip injections two to three weeks before a big event, such as a Valentine’s Day date or a wedding. That way, not only will the filler have had enough time to settle into place for maximum results, but any side effects that do occur should have had enough time to fade away as well.
The Bottom Line
Before moving forward with any cosmetic treatment, make sure your patients understand what they should be doing before and after their appointment to help maximize their results and minimize side effects such as bruising, swelling, and redness. It can be extremely helpful to provide a detailed instruction sheet to your patients prior to their lip filler appointment so that they have something to reference when preparing and recovering at home.