Ah, the price of beauty! Our lips are one of the most noticeable features on our faces. Even some celebrities have drawn attention to themselves (positive and negative) because of their plump lips.
If you simply want fuller lips with more volume or you want to revive your lips to help you look younger, consider using one of the most common and safest cosmetic products, injectible hyaluronic acid, as a lip filler. It’s like a “liquid facelift” for your lips – but what is it, are there natural sources of hyaluronic acid, and what are the hyaluronic acid side effects?
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance that exists in all living organisms. It is a gel-like substance that sits between our skin and its supporting connective tissues, and it shuttles nutrients from our bloodstream to our skin cells. Essentially, it helps keep our skin and joints lubricated and hydrated. Higher concentrations are found around our eyes and in our joints. As we age, the amount of natural hyaluronic acid in our body decreases causing us to develop feathering around our lips, wrinkled skin, deep folds and creases, hollow cheeks, and weakening joints.
Hyaluronic acid injections can be used to relieve all of these conditions. In fact, you may be most familiar with the acid’s use in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatism in patients with severe joint problems. You may also recognize some of the injectibles by their brand or trade names, such as Restylane® and Juvederm®, two of the most common products for use in lips. One bonus is that there are hardly any hyaluronic acid side effects.
Safety of hyaluronic acid
Millions of cosmetic procedures are performed every year around the globe and more than 10% of them involve injectible fillers. Fillers are injected underneath the skin’s surface and help improve its appearance. According to the American Medical Association, the FDA, and top cosmetic and plastic surgeons, these injectibles are extremely safe. Here are some important facts about the benefits, potential drawbacks, and possible hyaluronic acid side effects:
- Hyaluronic acid fillers are soft, smooth, colorless and easy to use. The smooth consistency is a bonus when used for the lips.
- The injections are non-invasive and quick, taking only a few minutes each.
- These treatments are definitely less expensive than surgery, but the results are temporary. If you want to keep the look, you can expect to have re-injections every 6 to 12 months. If you don’t re-treat, plumped lips will lose their volume.
- Hyaluronic acid side effects are nearly zero. If any redness, swelling or inflammation does occur, it usually disappears in 24 to 48 hours.
- Unlike some other fillers, hyaluronic acid gel does not contain any anesthetic (such as lidocaine) so the injections can be painful, particularly in the lip area.
- Allergic reactions are extremely rare as this is a naturally-occurring substance in the body and is well-tolerated. This means you don’t have to wait for allergy testing before being injected. However, you must advise your doctor if you have a history of severe allergic reactions.
- Extremely rare side effects include the formation of small pimples at the injection site. The pinprick may also cause herpes to recur in a patient who previously had it.
- Hyaluronic acid injections should be avoided by breast-feeding patients because not enough is known about whether it can get into breast milk or what effect it may have on infants.
- There may be some oral and topical hyaluronic side effects. You will find a wide variety of these products available online and in health food stores, but there has been less research about the effectiveness compared with injectibles, so investigate the products thoroughly.
- Injecting the lip requires skill for both injecting and for judging the look of the lip. Some swelling can occur during the injection so less experienced doctors may overfill the lip, distorting its appearance. Choose an experienced doctor to avoid unwanted hyaluronic acid side effects.
- Other fillers are used for lip enhancement such as collagen, silicone, and even your own fat, but the effects of hyaluronic acid fillers can be reversed by using hyaluronidase if you are unhappy with the results.
Again, make sure the doctor you choose (and the associates he supervises) is experienced in these types of injections. While hyaluronic acid side effects are rate, poor work will lead to poor results. Check credentials and ask to see examples of his or her work. Protect yourself from ending up with duck lips.