Thinking about getting lip fillers? Here’s exactly what happened when Parisa Hashempour tried and tested the trend
Three years ago I sat in the dentist’s surgery, trying to distract my brain from the root canal that was about to take place (don’t judge me, I have a sweet tooth). Chatting away to the dental nurse, I realised that my eyes were following her mouth – I couldn’t stop staring at her lips. They were the perfect amount of plump, smooth and full without being in-your-face and without wanting to sound creepy, I just had to tell her how blessed she was.
She outright laughed in my face and whipped out her phone to show me a picture of her lips three months earlier – this was my light bulb moment. They’d gone from thin to full in the space of a few injections and I was immediately convinced. In a world of Jolies, Jenners and Johanssons, it’s easy to see why the lip filler business has sky rocketed to success. In fact, WhatClinic.com found that their clinics have seen a 73 percent increase in demand for lip fillers in the past year alone.
For the next few years, I talked myself in and out of taking a plunge for a plumped-up pout. The thing that put me off the most? The sheer horror of having multiple injections pierced into my face – while I was awake! I did hours of internet research about the procedure but when I tried to watch a video of a woman having it done, I almost fainted at my desk. While the woman on the video looked calm, drops of blood were dripping from the places that the needle pierced her skin. Understandably, the idea was put on the back burner for a while.
A few years later, the lure of lip fillers was creeping back in, so I finally took the plunge and booked myself in for an appointment at the Karidis clinic, St John’s Wood hospital. The clinic is headed by Canadian cosmetic surgeon, Alex Karidis who is accredited by the British Association of Plastic Surgeons. Karidis’s nurse Suzi Noble who would be carrying out my treatment has a degree in nursing and experience as a recovery nurse at The Hospital of St John & Elizabeth – I felt confident I was in safe hands.
I was terrified of coming away looking overdone. I didn’t want people to notice my lips walk into the room before the rest of me did but as Noble explained on the Karidis website, it takes four to five millilitres of injectables over a period of a year to 18 months to achieve a look like Kylie Jenner. For comparison, I was going to receive just one millilitre of a Juvederm Volift treatment.
Juvederm is a family of injectable hyaluronic acid dermal fillers. Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, which is a polysaccharide – in English, it’s basically a very large sugar which is naturally occurring in the connective tissue throughout our bodies. Juvederm hyaluronic acid is made in a lab but as it is a sugar, your body is able to naturally break it down over time. Volift is Juvederm’s latest innovation designed to give as natural a feel and look as possible, and the specific type of hyaluronic acid I would be having. It also contains lidocaine which is a medication used to numb tissue. I was told that this particular filler would last between nine to 12 months.
Noble talked me through the treatment, benefits (plump, smooth, even lips) and risks (swelling, bruising and lip asymmetry). I explained what I hoped the end result to be – plumpness, especially on the top lip which is a lot less full than the bottom one but with a real emphasis on subtlety – no duck lips, please! I told her that I just wanted to be able to put on my lipstick every day without having to overdraw my lips.
First came the numbing cream which was generously applied all over my lips and mouth area – they took about ten minutes to go numb. My lips started to feel as though they were really big, almost the same feeling as having the inside of your mouth numbed for a filling. Despite the cream, Noble explained that the first few injections would be a bit painful but that the lidocaine would make the following injections easier.
‘And there’s going to be a pinch,’ Suzi warned before each injection. Despite the numbing cream, I could still feel the sharp point of where it went in. It was painful but in no way unbearable. It felt similar to a cat scratch – just concentrated onto one spot. It felt as though Suzi made about 10 or 11 injections but I lost count. After every couple of injections, she would massage the filler into my lip, starting with the top lip and then moving onto the bottom. After massaging them again she added a few final injections to even them out. It was the massaging that really made me feel nauseous and at one point my ears were ringing and I really did think I might faint. We stopped for a little bit while I pulled up my knees and took a few deep breaths. When I pulled my act together, Suzi finished with two final injections.
It’s probably because I was still feeling anxious after those needles but seeing my lips for the first time was a similar feeling to having all your hair cut off. Basically, I freaked out. Embarrassingly, I started hyperventilating and I was trying not to cry – not the glamorous exit from the clinic that I was hoping for. In my state of shock, I was convinced that I looked like a Love Island contestant.
The staff explained that the swelling would first get worse and then get better. I just couldn’t stop worrying about what my mum would think! I was told that they would take around 72 hours to go down and wouldn’t properly settle for about two weeks.
And then… no one noticed
I spent the whole journey home from the clinic taking photos of my lips on the tube. I felt so self-conscious, I was convinced they were massive and that everyone was looking at me. But when I walked into my house and had a casual chat with my house mates about their day, not one of them noticed. I went to find my boyfriend and even he couldn’t see that much of a difference.
The next morning, I woke up and couldn’t help but burst out laughing at my reflection. My lips had seriously swelled. I was a bit embarrassed on the journey to work and wished I’d had it done on a Friday so that I could hole away for the weekend. Maybe they were being polite but nobody in the office said anything about my lips until I pointed them out and when I went to my family home for the weekend a few weeks later my sister, mum, dad AND none of my friends noticed – what was going on? I felt as though they were much plumper and was now wearing lipstick minus the liner with confidence.
My lips were a little sore for a few days afterwards. I couldn’t smack them together after applying lipstick and they felt tender to the touch but apart from that, I only remembered I’d had them done when I looked in the mirror. Within four days, the swelling had almost completely gone. And while I wouldn’t say I wanted them to be as huge as they were the day after, I wouldn’t have minded them staying at the ever so slightly swollen level of day three plumpness. By this time, I was made up with the way they looked. My friends were slowly starting to get sick of my pouty snapchats and applying lipstick was an absolute dream.
The only problem I had with these fillers was a small bump that formed underneath the right-hand side of my lip. I got in touch with Karidis clinic about this and they explained that it’s normal – hyaluronic acid can accumulate in the odd bubble. I’ve been instructed to give it a frequent massage and the area should break down – the good news is it can break down easily with massage. Luckily, as it’s on the underside of my lip it’s not very obvious and according to Noble, as long as it’s not painful then it’s nothing to worry about. Six weeks later the lump is still here but slowly getting smaller.
The final result
Okay, so most people can’t see much of a difference (multiple friends have told me they’re the exact same as before), I am delighted with the end result. I LOVE the subtle way that they’ve turned out and whether anyone else can notice or not, I feel as though they’ve given me a lot more confidence as I go about my morning makeup routine. In all honesty, I’d rather nobody did notice. A natural, subtle, slightly fuller look was exactly what I had wanted, especially on a first treatment. I was a little bit surprised at how little a difference having a little bit of lip filler does make to your face overall. In my head, I half expected to come away looking like a different person. But luckily that wasn’t the case at all.
Now I feel as though I’ve definitely caught the bug. My fillers are supposed to last between nine to 12 months but Karidis suggest coming in at around the six-month mark for a top up if desired (yes, please). Despite being an absolute wreck before and after the treatment, I’m so glad I went through with it. I was pleased and surprised with the fact that the look was not at all obvious and was glad to come away with the natural look that I’d hoped for. Would I pay £385 for it (I did this one for free for editorial purposes)? To be perfectly honest, for such a small change in appearance, it does seem steep but what I wanted was subtley after all.
Karidis Clinic response: ‘Karidis Cinic believe in the less is more approach when it comes to injectables. Each patient’s lips differ and it is our job as the experts to make suer the treatment is suited to the individual’s lip shape, size and the patient’s preference. Karidis nurses build filler gradually to be sure of this and welcome patients back for a top-up if necessary. In Parisa’s case, where she was fearful of a noticeable outcome, this was the best approach.’