Lip Filler Migration: Causes & Prevention

Lip augmentation with filler is a popular cosmetic procedure that adds natural fullness and enhances contour. If the treatment is done correctly, the lips look plump and more attractive. However, any filler is a foreign body for our system and therefore has the potential for various complications. One of them is filler migration which happens when the filler moves away from its intended injection site. Keep reading to find out what causes lip filler migration and how to handle it.

How Does Lip Filler Migration Look?

Lip filler migration can happen immediately after the procedure or emerge gradually over weeks, months, or even years. It can move upward, downward, or protrudes outward, creating an abnormal thickening. Most often, we can get cases when the filler crosses the border of the upper lip and forms a “mustache” or duck lip.

Lip Filler Migration

What Causes Lip Filler Migration?

Using the Same Technique for Everyone

We all have different shapes and sizes of lips; therefore, the same technique can’t work for everyone. Besides, administering lip fillers require the ability to see the lips not separately from the face. It is an art, and we must maintain harmony.

Different lips require different treatment.

Therefore, before lip augmentation, the injector must take a close look at the entire face of the client to define the size of the lips by focusing on the mid-pupillary lines.

  • If the lips go beyond the boundaries of the lines, they are big
  • If the lips match their boundaries, the client has medium-sized lips
  • If the lips are less than the boundaries of the lines, they are small

By keeping this in mind, the specialist can adapt his or her techniques to a specific case:

  • Big lips should never be injected along the entire length
  • Medium-sized lips can be injected at the request of the client
  • Small lips should be unfolded along the entire length, arching the lateral parts

After that, the injector must determine the shape of the lips. There are eight types of lip shapes: Gull Wing (the upper lip looks like a seagull), Full (just full), Sausage (the top and bottom lips are plump without a very pronounced Cupid’s bow), Shelf (lips are thin but protrude a bit), Thin Outer (lips have all of their volumes in the middle), Double Lobe Upper (the two tubercles on the upper lip are pronounced), Triple Lobe Upper (three upper tubercles look plump), Double Lobe Lower (the two tubercles on the lower lip are full).

When we define the lips’ shape and size, we can modify them correctly, reducing the risk of lip filler migrations. Remember, this procedure can’t make your lips look exactly like someone else’s. However, we can improve and slightly reshape them.

Making Too Many Punctures Close Together

Compared to the skin on the rest of the face, the skin on the lips is very thin compared to the skin on the rest of the face, and thus multiple punctures are placed closely together to make the lips prone to filler leaking. This often occurs if the injector works in the Russian lips technique, placing a small amount of filler in several parts of the lips. To minimize migration risk, we should create fewer incisions on the border of the lip.

Injecting Too Much Filler Into One Area

As we discussed early, the skin of the lips is thin, and too much filler injected into one area at once may easily provoke migration. For some people, even a single syringe can be excessive, not to mention those who demand more.

The shape of the lips is another vital aspect worth considering. A client with a thin upper lip has less space to fill, meaning this lip is less likely to hold a large volume of filler in one place. Less is blessed in this case.

Choosing the Incorrect Type of Filler

Let’s start with the basics. Hyaluronic acid fillers are the most common and effective for lip augmentation. First, this substance is natural for the human body. Clients can tolerate it well with little or no adverse effects. Second, in case of migration or other complications, the specialist can easily remove the filler by injecting hyaluronidase. Finally, it offers excellent elasticity and can move with your facial expressions for a natural look.

The disadvantage of these fillers is that they can cause lip filler migration. When injected into the lips, hyaluronic acid absorbs water. It creates an extra volume and, in some cases, contributes to filler migration. More often, this happens if the lips are thin and don’t have enough space to fill.

Other types of fillers include calcium hydroxyapatite (Radiess) and polylactic acid (Sculptra). The huge advantages of them are longevity and the inability to draw the water as hyaluronic acid. Although they are less likely to cause filler migration, many specialists avoid using them. These fillers can’t be dissolved in case of complications, and you will need surgery to remove them.

How to Handle Lip Filler Migration?

There are only two ways to handle migrated filler – dissolve it with hyaluronidase (in case you used hyaluronic acid based filler) or wait for it to dissipate on its own.

Attention! You should not rush injecting hyaluronidase right after the procedure. The first several days, your lips may look large and uneven due to swelling. You may mistakenly think that your filler travels from its intended location. But it is hard to say that until the swelling goes down.

The best time to evaluate your lips is 7-10 days after augmentation. If you have a true lip filler migration, the specialist can easily dissolve it with hyaluronidase injections (in case you used hyaluronic acid based filler). The drug dissolves filler within 1-2 days, after which the skin regains its previous shape. The lips can be corrected with a hyaluronic acid filler as early as a week after removing the previous filler.

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