So you shelled out for lip filler hoping for a perfectly pouty look, but you wound up absolutely hating the results. What the hell can you do about it—besides, well, cry and complain? Lip injections are an ultra-popular nonsurgical procedure that can almost instantaneously give your mouth a fuller appearance, but still, they’re not without risk.
We’re not talking about the potential for serious, albeit rare, health consequences like skin necrosis (tissue death resulting from injury or trauma) or a hematoma (a pool of blood underneath your skin, a.k.a. a really bad bruise); those issues should be addressed by a doctor—either the dermatologist or plastic surgeon who did your filler or your primary care provider, if you have one—ASAP. We’re referring to less extreme, but still upsetting, side effects like excess swelling or bumps and lumps, which can happen when dermal injections are placed unevenly or begin to migrate, Melissa Doft, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York City, tells SELF.
Maybe your injector was inexperienced and added too much filler—one reason why you should always see a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for any cosmetic injectible, per the experts SELF consulted. Or perhaps you simply underestimated how different you’d look after a dozen shots, because a sudden, dramatic change in your appearance can be pretty daunting, Rawn Bosley, MD, board-certified dermatologist and supervising physician at Ever/Body in Dallas, tells SELF.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to immediately reverse the look of bad lip filler, but don’t freak out just yet: There are measures you can take to feel better about the results. Here’s how to deal if you hate or regret your new and not-so-improved lips.
First, determine if your lips are actually botched or just swollen.
Despite those celebrity before-and-afters (that may have inspired you to you get plumped in the first place), there’s a high chance that your lips will look pretty funky within minutes of receiving filler. But there’s good news: Their jarring appearance won’t be indicative of your final results, David Goldberg, MD, board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic dermatology at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, tells SELF.
“There’s usually initial swelling, which can make your lips look bigger than you’d like, because hyaluronic acid fillers (such as Juvederm, Belotero, and Restylane) absorb water,” Dr. Goldberg says, which is how they help your lips maintain a certain shape and volume. On the flip side, this can also lead to a temporary (phew!) overfilled, swollen, or uneven appearance.
Another super common and unglamorous possible side effect is bruising, Dr. Doft adds. Think about it: Your lips have a ton of blood vessels, so when that sensitive area is poked, prodded, and punctured by a giant needle, patches of black, blue, and/or purple skin are pretty standard reactions to the physical trauma, she says.
Both swelling and bruising are, again, short-term and should subside within 10 to 14 days of your appointment, according to all the experts SELF spoke with; in very rare instances, Dr. Bosley notes that mild inflammation can persist for up to four weeks. Any side effects that last longer usually indicate poor technique and can also be a sign of infection. So if your lips are still swollen after two weeks or you notice things like pus or experience extreme pain, see your provider ASAP to rule out complications.
Use ice or arnica to reduce swelling.
Waiting even two weeks can feel like a lifetime if you’re self-conscious about your lips. While it’s always best to seek professional guidance, there are some at-home steps you can take to alleviate inflammation.