What Are Lip Filler Swelling Stages and Timelines?

I get asked a lot of questions about lip filler swelling stages and timelines. I do a lot of lip injections and many patients today love full, voluptuous lips. What patients want to know is what can they expect afterwards? Here’s a guide.

So what can you expect the day of the procedure?

Usually the procedure involves putting a needle or a cannula in the lip with some trauma to the lip. The lip has lots of blood vessels. It also has a lot of glands. The combination of the blood vessels and the glands creates swelling. Trauma creates swelling, and areas that have a lot of blood vessels get more swollen. You may have some swelling the day of the procedure. Then the day after the procedure, there’s often a bit more swelling. Three to five days afterwards, there’s still a little bit of swelling, but the swelling is down and that’s when my patients tend to really like things.

Some patients get afraid the night after the procedure, because they’re a little too swollen, and they look a little bit unnatural. The day afterwards, they may be even more concerned because their lip is a little more swollen. But three to five days afterwards, they’re very happy. In fact, while they have a little bit of swelling remaining, they usually like this. That’s true even for patients who want a very natural look. Bottomline, at three to five days my patients tend to be very happy, whether they want a very natural look, or a cosmetically aggressive look.

Two weeks afterwards or so, many patients tell me they feel like they’d like a little fuller look. This might be because they liked the look of their lips with a slight bit of swelling remaining. There’s a curve of how big the lip looks after surgery. It gets its largest in 12 hours to 36 hours afterwards, and then at about four or five days it’s a very small amount of swelling. At two weeks, there’s generally no swelling.

Is uneven swelling after lip fillers normal?

What other things do people want to know? They want to know if their lips look a little bit uneven, should they call immediately? Well, swelling doesn’t necessarily happen symmetrically. Lips may get more swelling on one side than on the other side. Because of this, patients may notice a little bit of asymmetry or unevenness. I often tell my patients to wait 10 days or so, before I would re-see them relating to this.

How can I reduce lip filler swelling?

How do you minimize or reduce lip filler swelling? The best way is to minimize it when it happens. And that’s partially your injector and partially you. What can you do? You can stay away from things that make your capillaries fragile and make you bleed more in the tissue.

These are the traditional things that we stay away from before surgery such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, Aleve, Naproxen, all of those. As well as the herbal things that make us bleed, like garlic supplements and ginkgo biloba. If you stay off of them for 10 days, you’ll minimize your involvement in the swelling.

Afterwards, you will do well if you don’t do heavy exercise or activities involving heavy strain. Don’t clean the basement afterwards. Don’t go to the gym and lift weights right afterwards. Even though you’ll feel OK to lift weights, it’ll increase the blood flow, it’ll increase the pressure, and you may get more swelling.

Do lip fillers hurt?

Patients often ask me do lip fillers hurt? This is a bigger question. I found that when the fillers came out, they were not mixed with lidocaine. And almost all of my patients required topical anesthetic and a dental block — an injectable dental block with anesthesia and lidocaine. Today, I do dental blocks less than five percent of the time because the filler material, the hyaluronic acid, is already mixed with lidocaine. If the practitioner is good and the patient is calm, we can put a little bit of filler in and wait for that area to get numb. Then we continue to inject the anesthetized area. So, if we do this with a little caution, we can often make this east for most patients, and not too painful at all.

When should I contact my doctor after getting lip fillers?

Here are the problems that happen: We get asymmetric swelling, or a lump or bump. Lumps or bumps due to hyaluronic acid fillers can be dissolved, but I wouldn’t think of dissolving them before at a minimum two weeks after the lip filler, because we don’t want to dissolve something that’s going to go away with normal time. The other reason that we can get a little bump is if we pull out our lip, we can see these little bumps and the bumps on the inside of our upper or lower lip are minor salivary glands. And in putting filler into those areas, we can inflame a minor salivary gland. Those bumps typically go away, too. So, a little bit of patience usually lets the bump go away, and we don’t have to use dissolver material. These are some of the ways to minimize swelling and to let you understand what is generally a highly satisfactory procedure for my patients.

Have questions about lip fillers?
Email Dr.Sykes at hello@sykesplasticsurgery.com

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About Dr. Jonathan Sykes

Dr. Jonathan Sykes is a world-famous expert plastic surgeon who performs all cosmetic and functional plastic surgery procedures on the face and neck. He is a past president of The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and served on their Board of Directors for over 10 years. He is also a Professor Emeritus in Facial Plastic Surgery from UC Davis Medical Center, and the former Director of Facial Plastic Surgery at that institution.

He is known as the expert’s expert, and is often called to consult and advise other plastic surgeons in both Northern California and Beverly Hills. He has a special interest in eyelid and browlift surgery, facial rejuvenation surgery including facelifts, and rhinoplasty. He also has a particular interest in facial feminization surgery. Have questions? Email Dr.Sykes at hello@sykesplasticsurgery.com.