Blame it on Kylie Jenner, or our love for plump, pillowy, matte pouts, but ‘lip fillers’ has been one of Google’s top beauty search terms for quite some time.
But since Miss Jenner recently had her filler ‘dissolved’, are we about to see a return of natural lips and the removal of fillers?
If her impact on current beauty trends is anything to go by, it’s pretty safe to say yes.
So just how hard is it to reverse lip fillers? What does ‘dissolving’ actually mean? And can it really be done ‘naturally’?
To understand how it’s dissolved, you need to know what lip filler is in the first place.
The non-surgical procedure basically involves tiny injections of hyaluronic acid, strategically placed for a plumping and volumising effect. There are three types of hyaluronic acid that are commonly used for lip augmentations: Juvederm, Belotero and Restylane.
All three of these are naturally broken down by the body over time (anywhere between 6-24 months), which is why follow-up appointments are needed to maintain the ‘fillers’.
Six to 24 months is a long time to wait if you decide you no longer want your lip fillers. So while the body naturally breaks them down over time, there is a way to speed up the process: Injections of hyaluronidase.
Hyaluronidase is what the body produces naturally to break down fillers, so by injecting more, it allows the lips to regain natural shape quicker, usually going down within 3-4 days.
However, this procedure isn’t without risk; “There’s a small chance of allergic reaction and it could mean the lips go even thinner than anticipated”, says Dr Nick Milojevic of leading Harley Street Medical Clinic, Milo Clinic. “This is due to the breaking down of the hyaluronic acid within the lips, which could lead to the patient being unhappy with the results.”
It’s for these reasons that Dr Nick usually recommends for his patients to wait for their lip fillers to dissolve naturally, without hyaluronidase injections.
Mr Olivier Branford, Aesthetic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic says, “Hyaluronidase is not actually licensed as a lip filler dissolving application, however, its use is permitted provided that it is used in the best interest of the patient and with full, informed consent.”
“It is common for patients who have had numerous lip filler treatments over the years to have hyaluronidase to strip the lips back before starting with lip fillers again, which may be what Kylie Jenner is doing. This will achieve a fresher, smoother appearance; a blank canvas before starting again.”
Unfortunately, having your lip filler dissolved isn’t exactly pain-free.
Mr Olivier Branford says, “the lips are an extremely sensitive part of the body due to the high number of nerve endings present, so it can be a painful and eye-watering experience.”
“The lip filler dissolving procedure begins with the application of numbing cream to dull the burning sensation (often likened to bee stings) that is often experienced. Following the numbing cream, hyaluronidase is then injected into the lips with a series of tiny injections to dissolve the lip fillers. Whilst hyaluronidase begins to work immediately, the full effects are seen at two weeks after the procedure, once the swelling fully resolves. The procedure itself is relatively quick, taking approximately 10 minutes to perform.”
As for side effects, Mr Olivier says it’s not uncommon for patients to experience swelling and there may be bruising and discolouration in a minority of patients post-treatment. However, this should all subside within a few days.