What to Do Pre- and Post-Filler, According to an Injector and a Plastic Surgeon
I'm pretty open about the fact that I love filler. I've been getting my lips done about once or twice a year for a few rotations around the sun now, and I've also experimented with filler in my chin to elongate (love) and in my jawline to define (didn't love so much). That said, I had yet to touch botox, and was lucky enough to find myself in the amazing hands of master injector Anush Movsesian for a few strategic pricks of the stuff. (FYI, her IG, @skinsandneedles, is a fascinating follow, and if you're based in L.A. and interested in a cosmetic procedure, I can't recommend her enough!)
Of course, this story isn't about Botox, but while I had access to such an amazing expert, I did my due diligence by asking her some of the most frequently asked questions I receive around filler that are much more appropriate for a true professional, namely, what to do before and after fillers to ensure you get the best, most natural-looking results. (Because yes, there are certain things you definitely should and shouldn't do both pre- and post-treatment!) Curious to know everything I found out? Keep scrolling!
What is filler, and how does it work?
"Most of the time when we refer to filler, we are referring to hyaluronic acid filler, explains Paul Nassif, MD, FACS, of NassifMD Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills. "Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in the body, and it's also a starring ingredient in many skincare products. Hyaluronic acid filler is safe given proper training and can be reversed with an enzyme if needed." (That said, he notes that there are other types of injectable fillers on the market that stimulate collagen and are not reversible.)
The purpose of these types of filler, Movsesian adds is to give volume, definition, and contour to certain parts of the face.
What are the biggest myths surrounding filler?
Both Movsesian and Nassif agree that the biggest myths surrounding fillers center around the idea that the end result will look overly obvious or unnatural.
"People worry about looking 'fake,' Movsesian tells us, "But the truth is, with proper technique and the appropriate amount of filler, you can look youthful and maintain a natural appearance." In fact, Nassif shares that even as a trained professional, he's not always able to tell if someone's had filler.
Are certain people better candidates for filler than others?
The short answer? Not really. "There is no such thing as a 'best candidate' because each patient is assessed on a case by case basis," Movsesian shares. But both she and Nassif point out that fillers are meant to enhance certain features and add volume to different areas of the face, therefore, if you're someone who naturally already has some fullness or has lots of loose skin, filler might not be the best option. A consultation with a trained professional where you can share your goals or concerns ahead of the treatment is paramount.
What to do before fillers:
In the weeks leading up to your appointment: "Patients should make sure they are feeling healthy and have not taken any antibiotics for a couple of weeks leading up to the appointment," Nassif tells us. "We also want people to avoid getting filler immediately before or after dental procedures, as this has been shown to increase the risk of immune reaction towards the filler."
48 hours before your treatment: "Regardless of where you're getting the filler, it is crucial to avoid blood thinners such as ibuprofen or aspirin," says Movsesian. "Certain supplements like garlic, ginger, fish oil, and ginkgo can also have a blood-thinning effect, and should be avoided as well."
24 hours before your treatment: Avoid alcohol and caffeine in addition to all of the above medications and supplements.
A few hours before your appointment: "It is important to eat a small meal at least a few hours before the appointment," Nassif notes.
Right before your treatment: Bruising and swelling are normal reactions to filler, so you'll want to mentally prepare (and perhaps alter your calendar for the rest of your week) leading up to your appointment. "The amount of swelling and bruising depends on the individual, but if there is a concern, you should discuss it with your provider," Movsesian shares. "Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and the medications/supplements mentioned above will minimize bruising."
What to do after fillers:
Apply ice or cold presses to help reduce bruising and swelling. Remember, bruising and swelling are normal, but according to Nassif, if you experience significant bruising and/or bruising that shows up in other areas of the face, it might be cause for concern and should be addressed as soon as possible by the injector, as these signs might indicate problems with perfusion.
Slow your roll on alcohol. "I recommend limiting the intake of heavy alcohol for at least two to three days to minimize the risk of bruising," Nassif adds.
Don't exercise. While you can work out freely before your appointment, Movsesian says you'll want to avoid exercise completely for 24 hours post-filler.
Avoid wearing makeup. "We want the skin to stay as clean as possible after the procedure until the entry points are completely closed," says Nassif.
Ask your provider for the specific aftercare protocol for the type of filler that was used. "Aftercare does depend on the type of injection placed and the technique," Nassif explains. "For instance, patients who are injected with a collagen-stimulating filler such as Sculptra are often instructed to massage the area regularly to help ensure uniform collagen production, whereas we instruct people to avoid any type of firm pressure after hyaluronic acid fillers."
Be patient. "Plan for some recovery time for filler to settle in," reminds Nassif. "Hyaluronic acid filler is great because you can see an immediate change, but you have to allow about one to two weeks for the filler to settle in and for the swelling to subside."
What are the biggest filler mistakes?
Over-injection. "This is probably one of the biggest filler mistakes, and it can actually stem from both the patient as well as the injector," Movsesian points out.
Going to an inexperienced injector. Do your research! "Possibly one of the biggest mistakes is choosing an injector that is not experienced or worse, unlicensed," Nassif warns. "It is important to have a consultation and make sure the injector you choose understands your goals." And, as Movsesian adds, you'll want to make sure all of your questions and concerns are addressed before you undergo any procedure.
Not ready to take the filler plunge quite yet? Keep scrolling for some of our favorite beauty products that can reap similar effects.
Beauty products to try instead of filler:
If you're wanting the look of fuller, plumper lips, some strategic lip lining can yield some pretty impressive results. Click here for a full tutorial on the topic, and grab makeup artist Mario Dedivaniv's best-selling lip sculpting pencil in the interim.
I'm not shy about saying I routinely rely on this lip-plumping elixir from plastic surgeon Lara Devgan in between my filler appointments. The results are drastic! In fact, it's pretty much my favorite beauty product I own, and while the investment is steep, it's totally worth it considering it lasts forever and is about four different products in one: a lip plumper, a lip gloss, an SPF, and even, dare I say, a stain, since the plumping effect gives your lips a pretty little flush of color.
Psst—this less-expensive option from Sephora Collection comes in tons of beautiful shades and also yields very satisfying results in the plumping arena.
I've been using this OG gloss from Too Faced for years. In fact, I think it might have been my first-ever plumping product. Suffice to say, it's still one of my all-time faves, and I've become rather addicted to the instant punch of fullness and shine. I'll always love you, Lip Injection!
No, nothing will ever take the place of actual filler, but this one comes pretty dang close. Usually, lip masks are too heavy and sticky for my taste, but this one is significantly lighter and more comfortable without compromising on that aforementioned hit of hydration. Maxi-Lip is the key ingredient and is scientifically and clinically shown to visibly increase lip volume by 40% while also helping to support natural collagen production over time. Other key hitters include shea butter and hyaluronic acid.
This stuff makes your lips look effing fantastic. (Whether you've gotten fillers or not!) And I mean fantastic. Pillowy! Plump! Shiny! It's everything I want in a plumping lip treatment and then some. (Hot tip: Wear it over and under your lip products, and most definitely wear it while you sleep.) It has a unique 3D cushion effect that lends hydration, softness, and a noticeable lessening of fine lines and wrinkles. I love a product that delivers instantaneous results like this one, but I also appreciate that the more you wear it, the more your natural lips will benefit and look perenially plump and more volumized.
Here's a sneaky little tip: Simply buffing and exfoliating your lips will immediately make them look plumper, darker, and all-around enhanced. Do it on the daily and you might just forget about the idea of fillers altogether where your lips are concerned.
Moving on from the lips, if you've ever considered filler to address any eye concerns, this product might just change your mind. As the name suggests, this guy is potent, and it targets wrinkles in three different ways; first by blurring and softening the look of the skin, then tackling wrinkles, helping to reduce their appearance over time, and last but not least, by feeding your skin with essential nutrients that will help it stay smooth and soft in the future too.
I once saw someone use this in real-time on just half of their face and lips—it truly looked like the side they used it on had been lifted, tightened, and plumped by fillers, and not a device you can buy! Small but mighty, this beloved microcurrent device pretty much annihilates the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
We're big fans of Farmacy's plumping, hyaluronic acid–enriched serum. The micro-filling effect helps moisturize and smooth the look of wrinkles thanks to key ingredients like the aforementioned HA and vegan collagen peptides.
Okay, so let's say you did take the plunge and got some filler. This is the trio to have on hand post-procedure! Vitamin C? Check. Hydrating and plumping serum? Check, check. Sunscreen? Check, check, and check!