Do Lip Injections Hurt?

Woman biting her lip

People who are yet to undergo an advanced lip filler treatment tend to feel slightly anxious before their first injection procedure. They are worried about whether they will like their new look and some fear of potential side effects such as swelling and bruising. Still, for most patients, it is pain that ranks as their Number 1 worry. That is why board-certified cosmetic surgeons are used to hearing one question over and over again – Do lip injections hurt? If you have a low tolerance for pain and you are afraid of needles, this question may have already taken over your thoughts. But do you really have a reason to worry and fear? Time to find out!

Are lip filler injections painful?

We have some good and some bad news. The bad news is that even if your clinician uses premium-quality lip injections to contour, augment, rejuvenate and rehydrate your lips, pain will still be a factor. That is simply due to the nature of this type of beauty procedures. After all, they are performed through an injection directly into the target area. So, like with any other injection procedure, there will be some level of pain or at least discomfort. The pain sensation during a professional lip enhancement or contouring treatment carried out with a filler injection is not the same for every patient and it depends on a wide range of factors such as:

  • The patient’s pain tolerance – Varies from person to person but generally women, especially those who have given birth have a higher pain threshold compared to young men, for example.
  • The filler used during the procedure – Some injectable gels have a very dense and firm composition to deliver longer-lasting results but they also tend to be more painful compared to softer gels.
  • Size of the needle – The thinner the needle, the less painful the injection will be.
  • The training and experience of the medical clinician – A vetted and qualified professional knows which injection technique and filler will deliver optimal results and minimal pain.

The good news is that most top-notch lip injections available on the market today contain local anesthetic which quickly numbs the treatment zones and guarantees a pain-free experience. Do not worry if the one that is about to be used for your procedure does not feature such an ingredient. Your clinician of choice can always apply local anesthetic in a number of different ways. Just voice your concerns and ask them to provide you with a cosmetic treatment that is as painless as possible.

How does it compare to other treatments?

High-performing face fillers, particularly those that contain Hyaluronic Acid, are not very painful to apply into the skin. In fact, together with Botox injections and cryolipolysis, this effective anti-aging solution is among the most painless procedures of its kind.

When it comes to innovative lip filler injections, however, pain and discomfort come in a slightly higher dose. That is due to the fact that the lips are one of the most sensitive parts not only of the face but also of the body. They have an overwhelming amount of neurotransmitter receptors, veins, and arteries. To top it all, the superficial layer of the skin in that part of the face is extremely thin which does not make the situation any easier.

Before you change your mind about undergoing a risk-free lip enhancement or contouring procedure with fillers, know that most other popular skin rejuvenation procedures tend to be several times more painful compared to this one. Patients who have tried fat-resolving injections, laser therapies or ultrasound skin treatments report that compared to them, reliable lip injections are like a walk in the park. So, if you have survived a non-invasive ultrasound cosmetic therapy without a single complaint, you have nothing to worry about.

Rating cosmetic treatments from least to most painful*

Type of treatmentWhat does it involve?Pain scale
Botox injectionsInjecting specific muscles with a neurotoxin known as Botulinum toxin which temporarily paralyzes them and removes wrinkles.1
CryolipolysisA treatment that reduces fat by freezing it.1
Dermal fillersUsed for facial contouring, wrinkle removal, and augmentation procedures1
Cheek and lip fillersUsed for cheek enhancement, lip augmentation or contouring.2
Fat-dissolving injectionsTypically contain the chemical Deoxycholic acid which burns fat cells when injected into the soft tissue.3
Non-abrasive laser resurfacing for wrinklesHeats up treatment areas to remove damaged cells and to improve the texture of skin and stimulate collagen production.4
Non-invasive ultrasound skin treatmentsRely on modern ultrasound technology to deliver lifting of brows, neck, chin, etc.5

*On a scale of 1-5 in which 1 is the least painful and 5 is the most painful one.

Ways to reduce lip filler pain

We have already established the fact that even HA-based lip filler injections can cause mild discomfort and pain. Now it is time to see how those unpleasant sensations can be reduced or even completely eliminated. In most of the cases, it all comes down to anesthesia. But the training of the medical professional and the equipment that they use can also play a role in it all.

Rely on a trained medical professional

As it was mentioned earlier, the more experienced your plastic surgeon or aesthetic dermatologist is, the less likely you are to put up with discomfort of any kind. That is because a seasoned medical clinician will be able to avoid the most sensitive area of the lips, choose the best injection technique and handpick the perfect skin filler for the job at hand.

Lidocaine-infused injections

Almost all new-generation lip fillers available for purchase today contain a small amount of Lidocaine in their formula (usually about 3%). This is, for instance, the case with the first-class filler product Zishel Rose Touch which is used for the treatment of the face’s most sensitive areas including the lips.

Local anesthetic injection

For injectable gels that are free of Lidocaine, thoughtful medical professionals can administer a local anesthetic in other ways. One of them is through a local anesthetic injection. Keep in mind, however, that for some patients this pre-treatment procedure is often more painful than the actual treatment.

Vibration anesthesia

This is an excellent way to numb the treatment zone without the use of injections. It involves the application of a vibration device and it is used during the injection session itself. Nevertheless, it is not always a suitable option for procedures such as non-surgical lip augmentation which require a great deal of accuracy.

Local anesthetic cream

It is applied on the lips several minutes prior to injection to numb the injection points. The sensation they create may be odd for some but, at least, it eliminates pain quickly and without needles. Plus, with it, systemic effects are reduced to a minimum.

Icing the skin

Sometimes old-school is the best way to go. A simple thing such as putting some ice on the lips before the injection procedure can do miracles. While it may not be as effective as Lidocaine, for example, its numbing effects will wear off shortly after the treatment, allowing patients to easily return to their day-to-day activities. Once again – no needles are necessary.

Anesthetic gas

Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is widely used in many other medical and cosmetic treatments (e.g. minor oral surgeries). It is inhaled through a special mask and it is one of the most effective pain relief and numbing methods out there. Still, you will need to wait for its effects to fully wear off before you sit behind the wheel of your car, go back to work, etc.

The needle vs cannula question

Some clinicians believe that the sensation of pain and discomfort during and after a lip augmentation procedure performed with quality dermal fillers can be greatly minimized if a cannula is used instead of a needle. According to them, a cannula is less likely to cause damage to an artery and vein (which would lead to swelling and bruising) because it is blunt. However, others prefer to stick to needles since they give them better control and help them deliver more accurate results.

Post-treatment pain

With lip injections, pain can come not only during the treatment but also after it. Again, the likelihood of that is different from patient to patient but if you do not want to deal with any post-injection discomfort to follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions to the last letter. It is advisable to put an ice pack on your lips shortly after each injection session. That will reduce the risk of pain, swelling and bruising. In addition to that, it is recommended to avoid exposing yourself to UV light or to do strenuous activities such as working out or playing sports during the first couple of days after the treatment.

To say that professional-grade lip injections are painless would be a lie but to say that this pain is not manageable would also be a lie. So, worry not because compared to several years ago, this type of procedures is much more patient-friendly now than ever before. There are various forms of local anesthesia that can save you from any discomfort so that, in the end, you can enjoy all the benefits of this therapy without its downsides.

About Dr. Carson Simmons, MD

Dr. Carson Simmons, MD, has been a licensed Aesthetician for over 7 years. As of 2013, he has also been a Board Certified Surgeon. He received his education and degree at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine and is well-known for his many papers on facial contouring and facial augmentation. Dr. Simmons has also used his extensive experience in this medical field to write two best-selling books that examine the connection between skin aging and nutrition.