I want to say that I got lip injections because I felt it would boost my confidence or address a long-suffered insecurity. I feel it would make this whole story a bit more righteous—stirring, even. “Lip Injections Inject Insecure Area Woman with Newfound Confidence.” “This Girl Got Lip Fillers … and What Happened After Will Warm Your Heart.”
But that would be a lie, and I’m not a liar. I’ve never had any significant issue with the way my lips look—I have a small mouth, but the lips themselves are well-shaped and full enough. I wouldn’t call them plump, but they’re not thin. They’re fine, actually! Which leads us to the question: Why did I get lip injections if I didn’t really “need” them? Well, because I wanted them, and I wanted to know what it would be like to have them. And once I get my heart set on something, I am unstoppable. I also hate when people are having fun without me, and Kylie Jenner seemed like she was having a lot of fun with her lip injections. I wanted to be a part of it, even if only tangentially.
That’s how I found myself in the chair of board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, MD, at Union Square Laser Dermatology. She’s smart, nice, pretty, and wears a lab coat with her name embroidered on it, so I trusted her immediately. Still, that doesn’t mean I let her opinion that I had no real aesthetic use for lip injections sway me. “You’re young, and your lips are already pillowy,” Dr. MacGregor told me, and possibly frowned. Within 10 minutes of our meeting, her assistant had painted a very thick layer of a numbing agent onto my lips and left me in the room to read magazines and not question my decision while the loss of feeling set in.
When they returned, it was time for me to receive my Juvederm Ultra XC. (I chose this type of hyaluronic acid filler based almost entirely on the fact that it can last up to one year, and I had already made up my mind that I was going to love the lips and want them forever.) Dr. MacGregor warned me that there would be a slight pinch as she inserted the syringe into my lips, on each side as well as in the center to keep it all even. I have an extraordinarily high pain tolerance, so while the injections definitely did feel like a pinch, it was fine.
The entire experience was like going to the dentist, but I left looking hotter instead of upset and carrying a plastic case with mouthwash and a sticker that says Good Job. My lips were hugely swollen at first, and I loved it, but once they settled they looked totally normal and natural, which is almost definitely for the best because I think I might have looked like Lisa Rinna.
I had some bruising for a few days, and my lips felt weird, like I was having an allergic reaction or got stung by bees all over the mouth. But it healed within a week, a pleasant surprise, considering I was told not to drink wine because the vitamin E could worsen bruising. (I poured myself a glass of wine immediately upon arriving home.) At one point a day or two after the procedure, I had a small bump on the underside of one lip that I was 100-percent certain was a sign that the filler had gone out of place; I was wrong, and it corrected itself soon after.
Sometimes in the morning, after I’ve maybe eaten too much sushi for dinner or drank a lot of beer or had pizza late at night, I wake up with my lips just a little swollen, a little bit puffy, in a way that is almost definitely not a good sign for my overall health but looks really great. This is what I wanted from my lip injections: that same look sans sodium OD. And I got it—the results are, as Dr. MacGregor promised they would be, super, super subtle. “It’ll just be like when you wear a really good lip gloss,” she said.
Nobody is any wiser to the difference until I tell them, which I always do; I’m excited about it, in a way. And while nothing about my lips was actively affecting my self-esteem, I just look better (or at least, I think I do), yet not like I’ve had anything done to my face. I feel better, too, but almost imperceptibly. I didn’t go into the process feeling like I needed to “fix” my lips or change my face, but now I may very well be hooked.
They say that people who get lots of facial tweaks lose perspective and don’t know what they look like anymore, and that’s how they end up looking so … altered. So please, I beg of you: Tell me outright if I start to look like Mickey Rourke. Think of it as a public service. An intervention, even.