Let's Talk Temporary Lip Fillers

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I'm just going to put it out there: I get my lips done. It’s not something I like to advertise, and it’s not something I always admit to (sorry if you fall into the category of people who I have blatantly lied to). Sometimes it feels like people judge anyone who chooses to alter the way they look—whether it be with makeup, cosmetic procedures, or plastic surgery. It's not the right choice for everyone, but it was the right choice for me. In case you've ever been curious, I'm here to tell you about it.

I've always been self-conscious about my teeny, tiny lips. Every time I went to put on makeup—my preferred mode of self-expression—I noticed how small they were, wished they were bigger, and longed to do something about it. I avoided red lipstick because I worried it would only call attention to the problem, so I stuck to neutral tones or no lipstick and enhanced my eyes instead. No big deal (literally), but one that was often on my mind.

Like most young college grads, I simply didn’t have the money to invest in a long-term solution like fillers. I tried every single plumping lip treatment on the market, from DuWop’s infamous Lip Venom and Buxom Full-On Lip Polish to lesser-known brands like MaxiLip Lip Plumper and DIY remedies like cinnamon on a toothbrush. (Side note: Some of these hurt way more than getting injections.) When I got my first promotion and was finally making enough money to afford to buy a designer handbag or take a vacation, my first thought was 'LIP INJECTIONS!'

At the time, I didn’t know anyone who openly had her lips done—that's what online reviews are for. After losing myself in the depths of internet comments, I found a place in Midtown West that had amazing reviews and was running a special price on Juvéderm. Plump life ain't cheap. Call it risky, but I booked an appointment that same day.

I scheduled my appointment on a Friday night with no plans for the weekend. I needed sufficient time to freak/figure out what to do in case things didn't go well. The doctor asked me what I wanted and explained the process—there would be numbing cream, an ice pack, arnica (to reduce the possibility of bruising), and four injections, two in my upper lip and two just below my lower lip. He let me know they would feel firm at first then soften up within several days and that they would initially appear larger before they settled.

There are different types of Juvéderm with varying degrees of thickness, and the thinnest one will last anywhere from two-to-six months. The only way to know how long is to wait. He suggested we be conservative, since this was my first time. It's easier to add more than to take away, which is actually an option (there's an enzyme doctors can inject to counteract the effects). He applied a numbing cream and all I felt was a little pin prick. Less than 10 minutes later, the procedure was done and my lips were BIG! Not Angelina big...like Amanda Lepore big. He told me this was totally normal—since Juvéderm attracts water, lips might swell a bit more but would look normal again in a couple of days. Sure enough, a few days later they settled into the lips I've always wanted. My lipstick collection has grown exponentially and is now housed in a small dresser.

It's been a couple of years since my first go-round, and my only regret is not having them done before my wedding day. I maintain them every five-to-six months, at an average price of $650-850 per syringe. It takes less than one syringe for both of my lips, and sadly there’s no way to salvage the leftovers. Some people need to go for more or less often depending on how quickly their bodies absorb the filler.

No, lip injections are not natural—and yes, there are risks involved. But I risk getting hit by a bus crossing 5th Avenue on my way to work every day, so my theory is I might as well feel good about myself in the process.

—Abbey Taylor

Photos courtesy of the author.