by Glamour Magazine
“Getting work done” is no longer the secret it once was. But if you’re considering going under the knife or needle, you deserve to be informed. In our series, Life in Plastic, we’re breaking down everything you need to know, from lip injections to invasive treatments. Choose to change your looks or don’t—the point is, the choice is yours.
One might say I have an obsession with myself, though not in a way that allows me to move through the world feeling especially at ease with what nature has bestowed upon me. Rather, I’m always in a constant state of self-change. Much like a therapist unable to take her own advice, I see others—large noses, small noses, stringy hair, coarse hair, curvy bodies, lanky bodies—and fixate on, and often envy, their striking brand of beauty. When it comes to myself, though, well enough is rarely left alone.
Until a few years ago, my commitment to vanity was purely surface—keratin treatments, at-home dermaplaning, hot tools, serums, supplements, Swiss Kriss laxative facials—I’d never gone under the knife, experimented with dermal fillers, or spent any legit money on one single alteration. Not because I’m opposed (I come from a family of proud plastic-surgery advocates), but because it never occurred to me that I didn’t have to wait until I was 60 to get the full lift, that I could make small tweaks along the way.
I came to focus on my lips because—truthfully—I was hyper-aware of a specific standard of beauty that started to pervade and overtake popular culture, and found myself hoovered right in. With every Insta-girl that upward-scrolled past, the more my face started to seem too pedestrian, too uneventful, too earnestly natural. Big, pillowy, fake-looking lips were everywhere, even on girls almost two decades younger than me, and I wanted in.
In the year that followed, I got lip injections twice, by two different board-certified physicians. The first time, I was acutely disappointed—I went to a buzzy, fancy practice that some of my beauty-editor friends frequent—and felt as though I’d taken $900 and tossed it to the wind, Samantha Jones–style. The doctor asked me nothing and seemed disengaged, and I left feeling swindled and unhappy. There was no difference, and I was told I could pay for more if I wanted to see one.
By doctor number two—Michele Green, M.D., a New York–based dermatologist and RealSelf contributor—I realized the first round might have been more successful if I’d been assertive about what I wanted. I told Green right away that I wanted to see a noticeable difference, and she spent time both studying my face and asking me questions.
We decided on one syringe of Juvederm, which is what I’d had the year before, although Green concentrated it all in my lips, whereas the previous physician used some in the skin around my mouth. More on that below, as well as some other crucial intel I got from Green. If you’re thinking about lip filler, read this first so you leave with exactly what you came for.
And the first time around, I did not. The first step, according to Green, is to decide how big you realistically want your lips. Meaning, think long and hard about whether you really want to go from thin-lipped to Lisa Rinna in one fell swoop. It will be obvious. “You really, really don’t want [your lips] to be overfilled, and it’s easier to have too little than too much,” Green said. But if you know you want to see a real difference right away, it’s on you to voice that—especially since I’ve found that most doctors prefer their work to look hyper-natural.
Physically, Green suggests refraining from aspirin, Motrin, Aleve, fish oil, multivitamins, and vitamin E for about a week before your appointment, as each can act as a blood-thinner and contribute to postinjection bruising.
The professional jury’s out on whether you should bring a photo with you to your appointment. I’ve read some doctors like it, and others don’t. Green is in the latter camp, likening it to bringing a picture to the hair salon—you can show your stylist what you want, but your hair type may not achieve it, so then you leave disappointed. “Everyone’s anatomy is different, and everyone’s [face] has a different shape,” she said. You’re better off explaining what you think you want, and letting your doctor work with the configuration of your mouth to achieve it.
(Still, when I mentioned the Kylie effect to Green, she confirmed it’s quite real among women of all ages. “Everyone comes in asking for her lips,” she told me. “They all say, ‘I want lips like Kylie.'” Make of that what you will.)