Right after the first time I got lip fillers, I was newly, happily single and on my way to a wedding. My mouth was a little sore and also a little puffier than I knew my final results would be, but I was already in love with the results. My top lip finally matched my bottom lip. They still looked like mine, just more filled out.
The only downside was that there would be no rebound makeouts for me at this wedding because, well, kissing someone when I was still getting used to my new lips didn’t sound ideal. And I worried that even if I did decide to go for it, my makeout partner might feel some nebulous difference that would hint I’d had something done. While I theoretically know there’s nothing wrong with that, the prospect made me feel a little bashful all the same.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in these thoughts. “I get asked pretty frequently if a significant other will be able to tell that [a patient has] fillers when kissing,” Dara Liotta, M.D., a double-board certified plastic surgeon based in Manhattan, tells SELF. Patients also often ask her how long they have to wait before “using” their plumper lips, she says.
In case you have the same questions, I spoke with cosmetic surgeons and three other women who have lip fillers to ease your worries.
First, let’s talk about how lip fillers work.
Lip fillers are injections performed by a medical professional like a cosmetic surgeon to change the look of your lips, specifically their volume, shape, symmetry, or proportions, Lara Devgan, M.D., M.P.H., board-certified plastic surgeon and RealSelf chief medical editor, tells SELF. “They can vary anywhere from subtle to [obvious] and can be customized to an individual’s anatomy and goals,” she says.
In the past, medical professionals have used liquid paraffin, silicone, and even bovine (cow) collagen for lip augmentations. These days, though, most favor lip fillers that use hyaluronic acid (HA), which is a natural substance found in different parts of your body like the joints and skin. HA attracts water, which can result in a plumper look, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
There are multiple types of HA-containing fillers on the market with different pros and cons. Popular brand names include Restylane, Juvéderm, and Belotero. How long your fillers last depends on factors like which type you get (and how much of it, since most people need multiple syringes to achieve their desired results, per the ASPS), but different brands report added fullness for anywhere from six months and up. Similarly, the price of lip fillers depends on the type and how much you get, but one syringe can cost $ 600 or more. Your doctor may have a preferred filler or will help choose the best for you based on your desires, lips, and budget.
You may want to avoid making out (and more) immediately after the procedure.
This is especially true if you’re new to lip fillers. After getting lip fillers, especially as a newbie, there is often a period of 24 to 48 hours where your lips will be noticeably swollen (beyond your intended results), Dr. Liotta says. You might also experience pain and tenderness at the injection site, lumpiness, and bruising. The length and intensity of these side effects really vary from person to person, Dr. Liotta says, but within 10 days to a few weeks, most people will be side effect-free and will see the final results of the procedure.
It’s normal for people experiencing soreness to hold off on putting their lips to work right after the procedure, Dr. Liotta says. “Lots of patients will tell me they wait about two days for a little tenderness and swelling to resolve before fully using their new lips,” she explains.
Even non-sexual things that normally come naturally to you—like sucking on a straw or pursing your lips—will probably feel awkward or painful because of the swelling, so it may help to steer clear of those immediately after the procedure as well.
“I [make] sure to not engage in anything involving my lips right after” getting them done, Samantha D.*, 30, a New York City-based performer who started getting fillers about a year ago, tells SELF. “The plastic surgeon who did it said not to suck on straws, and I took that to mean ‘no sucking on straws’ and ‘no sucking on dick.’”
Not only might intense makeouts or performing oral sex feel uncomfortable, really going for it could exacerbate your side effects to an extent. “Forceful pressure in the first 72 hours after filler can increase the risk of bruising and swelling,” says Dr. Devgan. With that said, the concern here is about your comfort. You’re not going to change the shape or texture of your fillers by making out too hard or engaging in any other sexual activities, according to Dr. Devgan. Doing so would require a level of force that’s usually not involved in even the most passionate of makeouts, she explains. As it turns out, most lip filler complications (like long-lasting lumpiness or asymmetry) are a result of improper injection technique, which means you should make sure to find a reputable surgeon for your lip fillers. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Also worth noting: The intensity of your side effects might ease up if you continue getting your lips filled. After getting fillers for two years, the immediate side effects are less noticeable for me than the first time I got them. I usually wait a day or so before engaging in oral sex, but now that I’m dating a woman I very much trust, I’m down for some puffy lip kisses the day of the treatment.
You may also need to adjust to how your new lips feel in action.
Everyone’s experiences are different. Some people don’t have much of an adjustment period before their new lips really feel like theirs, Dr. Liotta says. For other people, like me, it takes some time.
It took me some time to get used to the feeling that there was simply more to my lips. While I was single, I was quite curious if new partners would be able to feel my lip fillers or if the added poutiness would affect the way I kissed or enjoyed performing oral sex. I even asked a friend if she would make out with me and tell me if she could feel anything different about my lips versus those of people she’d kissed who didn’t have fillers. (Or at least who she thought didn’t.) She couldn’t, and apparently that’s the point. Fillers are supposed to mimic the softness and contours of non-filled lips, says Dr. Devgan.
Still, I wasn’t the only one who needed an adjustment period. “My lips felt inflated, and it took a minute to get used to the product,” Chanin S., 35, sex educator and therapist, tells SELF. “[After] two to three weeks once everything settled and healed, I really started to love them.”
Same. I adore my lips, and my girlfriend says she can’t notice a thing. Now that I’m used to them, the only way they affect my sex life is by making me feel sexier. Speaking of…
If you love your lip fillers, the biggest change to your sex life might be a confidence boost.
Obviously, new lips won’t magically give you all the confidence you’ve ever dreamed of, but for some people, they help. “There’s a lot of focus on the lips when you’re dating,” Dr. Liotta says. “Talking, sipping wine, dinner dates, kissing … a full lip can sometimes help people feel [sexier and more] relaxed.”
That’s definitely the case for me and the other women I talked to. Sydney Leathers, a writer and sex worker, tells SELF that after getting her lips done, she feels “200 times sexier.” Agreed.
For her part, Samantha has gotten more compliments about her lips, kissing, and blowjobs after getting fillers, all from partners who didn’t know she’d gotten them done. But that’s not what’s most important to her, she says: “More than that, it’s just a matter of liking the way that I look and how I feel for myself.”