Updated: Jul 12, 2021
Welcome to our most comprehensive blog on lip fillers – the most popular area to have treated and the one we get so many questions about. Lips are often the area that most people have enhanced first and they are one of the most impactful areas as they are so central to the whole face. Typically our practitioners do over 100 lip filler appointments per month in the Bristol and Swindon clinics alone so we thought it’s worth talking about. Our appointments range from first-time lip fillers to, customers who’ve had many treatments with us in the past, new customer’s who’ve had fillers but have been recommended to us and customers who are dissatisfied with their current work and need us to take corrective action.
It’s a minefield out there, if you are reading this, you probably already know this. There is a huge choice of practitioners which brings the challenge ‘who do I chose to do my treatment?’
Pay for the skill, not the ml.
As important as the price will be, it’s more important to remember that you only have one face and need to look after it well. While this doesn’t mean that paying the most will give the best result, it does mean that if a practitioner is cheap then they are often cheap for a reason. Various factors will determine why people charge the rate that they charge and some of these are as follows:
Training costs – for a practitioner there is also a minefield of training. Some places, depending on the practitioner’s background, will qualify the person in just one day with the only injecting practice on 1 model. These courses then enable practitioners to start out and start practicing on anyone. Other courses which are usually more costly have a long theoretical and practical training with plenty of models to then have supervised practical on. Additionally, the basic courses will only teach 1 or 2 lip techniques meaning that the practitioner will have a one size fits all approach which can often result in a treatment that doesn’t suit your shape of lip. A good practitioner is one who invests in their training and continues it throughout their career. In our business, we are passionate about investing in the best training and then doing masterclasses every year to keep up with all the new knowledge and to stay ahead of the game. This, however, has a cost as it improves a skill, so this improved skill may result in a higher charge.
Complications knowledge – Another element of training yet one that doesn’t often get included as part of the qualification into injectables is training in anatomy and complication management. Treatments with injectables carry a level of risk and its vital that your practitioner knows how to spot an issue and then has all the tools and support system in order to resolve it. This is costly training and costly but crucial kit to have. Finding a practitioner who values your safety enough to invest in this is important.
Experience – everyone has to start somewhere so you’ll often find a practitioner who is building their portfolio will charge less to gain experience. These practitioners can go on to become fantastic in the future but a limited experience at the start can leave models/ early clients with issues such as lumps, unevenness, migration etc. These issues can only be resolved by dissolving the area and so the cheap treatment can quickly become very expensive.
Set up – giving client’s the best customer service from answering questions pre-booking, right through to aftercare is expensive in terms of time and set up. The best all-round experience requires people and systems both of which are costly, so if having great customer service is important to you then it will likely cost a fraction more.
Other costs to consider but may not have a direct correlation to skill but are still important to know are:
Insurance – scarily not all practitioners out there are insured which means that in an unfortunate instance where something could go wrong, you wouldn’t be able to claim. Insurance is expensive so if a practitioner is suspiciously cheap you need to consider whether they are insured (and qualified).
Waste – Injectable waste requires specialist disposal which incurs additional costs. It is illegal to simply put the waste in the ordinary bin given the sharps and infectious nature of the waste.
High-quality product – It’s important that the fillers being used for your treatment are both CE marked and MHRA approved. Unfortunately, there are more and more fillers coming from the black market which could be very harmful so always ensure that they are licensed for use in the UK. Some practitioners only use FDA approved products but this is not important for the UK market as the FDA is a US organisation and both CE and MHRA take precedent.
Most practitioners who get trained treat fillers as their part-time role – so most of the time, they are doing another job – whether that’s being a GP, an A&E nurse or a beautician carrying out brows and lashes.
Does all of this bother you? – well it should! There are some exceptionally good practitioners around carrying out lip filler treatments but there aren’t many of them – especially in the areas we cover namely: Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham, Swindon, Birmingham & Taunton. The good ones do this every day and they have treated 1000s of customers and have been on many advanced training courses to master their art - making significant investment in their skills at considerable cost. The rest fall into the above and some of the results are less than desirable.
How do you spot a newbie filler practitioner?
Firstly, look at their profiles on social media. How long has the account been open? How many followers do they have? How many fillers before and after pictures are there. Does the same content repeat itself over and over – albeit at a slightly different angle? Someone who has the experience and is good at their work will have an extensive array of filler before and after pictures. The content will be changing constantly with fresh new images on a daily basis and the results will look great with a range of different looks – whether it is natural, fuller, rebalanced etc.
Check out their availability – if they have appointments today, tomorrow or any other time that easily fits in with your availability; they either have very few customers because they are new to the role or even worse, just not very good.
Check out their pricing, does it feel too cheap/ too expensive?
Finally, do they offer the full range of treatments – is tear trough and nose an option? Typically you need to have a lot more experience to qualify in these treatments. This also goes for advanced training – ask if they have done any advanced training and who with – most advanced lip training courses need the practitioners to have done at least 150 previous treatments.
All of the practitioners at Contour Couture have advanced training across all filler treatments. We have medics and non-medics working for us – we don’t discriminate, the key for us is that they are experts in their field and at Contour Couture all they do for their full-time employment is aesthetic treatments of which 90% is dermal filler related.
How do you spot the part-timer filler practitioner?
The obvious ones are when the appointments are at a GP surgery or a Dental practice. They are generally highly intelligent and respectable individuals and will care about their customer’s welfare but their time is taken up with their primary role, please don’t misunderstand me, this is exceptionally important work but doing lips or any other fillers on the side does not make them an expert in aesthetics.
Look at their booking system – if it’s only open once a week or once a month then the likelihood is they are part-time – some get booked up over a month in advance so it’s worth checking future dates to see how many there are.
Let’s talk deposit now – should I pay a deposit?
Yes, you should expect to pay a deposit but the key question is if I have to cancel or postpone my appointment do I lose my deposit? A lot of clinics will offer a non refundable deposit - we don't agree with this. So long as you cancel with plenty of notice, we hold your deposit for up to 6 months on account for use on any future treatment so it is not lost. However, if you don't give reasonable notice to cancel or change then expect to lose it - for us it's 7 days prior. Once you’ve booked the slot, no one else can take this time and if you cancel at the last minute, your practitioner may not be able to fill it at the last minute which means they lose valuable time where they could be earning money. Even if it is re-filled, the likelihood is that they will need to invest time to get it filled then money to maybe re-advertise the slot so they would be out of pocket as well as losing the time to earn.
What’s a reasonable timeframe to expect a refund? – we work on 7 days. That gives us enough time to try and fill the space but it’s a reasonable timeframe if someone changes their mind – and it is okay to change your mind. What isn’t acceptable is companies and practitioners who refuse any form of refund – some even take full payment. You must check and get it in writing if it isn’t published anywhere that a refund is available when reasonable notice is given.
So it’s your first time getting lip fillers
It can be daunting first time out – it’s only natural to be nervous after all, someone is going to stick needles in your lips and change their shape. What do you need to know when booking:
How much lip filler do I need?
The vast majority of first-timers will need 1ml and there are very few exceptions to this. 0.5ml lip filler just isn’t enough it is so subtle you won’t necessarily notice it – the only exception to this rule is if you have very thin lips then it may be best to go for the smaller amount but your practitioner can guide you and you should be able to just change your mind on the day.
If I go for 1ml won’t my lips look huge? I’ve seen the pictures on Instagram!
Generally, the pictures of the larger lips are not first-timers, they have had several appointments and built the filler up over time so this won’t happen on your first treatment but 1ml will give you a noticeably different.
I really want big lips – should I go for more?
Nearly every time we would say no. We would always recommend building up your lips slowly over time. We don’t recommend this because we want to keep getting you back for more appointments if you put more than 1ml in at a time, you run the risk of the filler migrating outside the lip line because they are just not ready to take so much extra volume – believe me, this is not a good look. This issue diminishes over time so when you fill over a gradual period of time, the risk of migration is significantly reduced, the shape of your lips is much more predictable and easier to create and the filler will last much longer.
How long does filler last – I’ve heard it’s 6-9 months?
We have tried every type of high-quality filler on the market, and lips just do not last that long after one treatment. We would generally recommend a top-up after 3 or 4 months and then it may last 6-9 months after. That said, it also depends on your metabolism – if you have a very high metabolism, the filler just doesn’t last as long whereas if it is low, you may just be one of the minorities where it will last significantly longer.
The filler needs to be built in stages. If it’s your first time and you like the results initially you will need to invest in getting some more filler 6 weeks after your first appointment. Your first appointment is important as it lays the foundation for your lips to be built. Without some more added 6 -8 weeks later, the result becomes very subtle. Building on the foundation layer will give longer-lasting results and leave you happier with your treatment. For those who want a natural look, I would advise 2 treatments 6 weeks apart. For a fuller look, I would advise 3 treatments 6 weeks apart. After this, you can top them up and maintain them every 6-9 months.
What’s the best filler?
That’s really a very difficult question to answer – we use different types of filler for different treatments because they are better than others for a particular treatment. There are a lot of new fillers popping up in the market place at the moment. We just wouldn’t go near these because they haven’t managed the test of time – I’m sure some will be very good but it is always concerning when the cost of the filler is almost half of the known highly reputable companies. We only use filler that has been around for a long time and has the reputation of being an excellent brand. Typically our choices are Intraline, Revolax, Juvederm & Teosyal. That’s not to say there aren’t other great fillers but these are the ones we trust.
What happens if I really don’t like the look?
Always ensure you are getting non-permanent fillers for your lips – they naturally degrade over time but also, if you are extremely unhappy, you can get them dissolved so the filler is removed completely – not all practitioners are qualified to do this so it’s another important check when you’re choosing someone as a just in case scenario.
So, I’ve now booked my 1ml lip fillers, what happens next?
It’s all really straightforward. You will turn up for your appointment - always be on time because good practitioners run back to back appointments all day and if you’re late you may get turned away because it will put everybody after you behind. You will then be asked to sign a waiver – some will send this out prior in digital format. You fill this out sign the form then you will have some numbing cream applied to make the experience more comfortable. All this may happen in the reception if the practitioner has a PA otherwise the practitioner will do this themselves. After about 15 mins, once the numbing cream has taken effect, you will go in for your appointment. The practitioner should then do a consultation with you to understand what you are looking to achieve then you lie back in the chair and get the treatment done. This should take around 30 mins – any less and they are not taking enough time to do the job carefully and effectively.
How much for 1ml of lip filler?
Pricing varies quite dramatically – our view is you should not be spending more than £225 per ml for lip fillers and if you’re paying less than £150 then I would be concerned. We charge £175 per ml. There is a huge variance but there are a number of variable costs that practitioners have when they provide filler treatments. There’s the cost of the filler (we buy in bulk – usually 250 to 300 at a time because we have so many appointments a month which means we get better pricing than most who buy small amounts at a time); there are advertising costs; costs for the premise; insurance; cleaning (more so since COVID); training costs to get started; ongoing advanced training; website design and management costs; booking software costs; accountancy and bookkeeping costs; credit card charges; utilities; for the more reputable companies who have more customers, there’s VAT @20% that has to be paid back to the much-loved HMRC – the list goes on and of course the practitioner needs to make a profit so they can make a reasonable living. With all of these costs, if you have a lot of customers because you are great at what you do, then they are spread over a much larger customer base and therefore the cost per customer is much lower whereas if the practitioners don’t have as many customers, the cost per customer is going to be higher so you can start to understand why there’s such a variance in cost but also makes you ask the question if things just look a little bit too cheap.
What can go wrong?
There are some very scary things that can go wrong if you are exceptionally unlucky but these get highlighted in your consent form but sadly there are other more frequent issues that we see when customers come to us for advice after being disappointed with their treatment:
1. Lumpy lips – this is usually due to poor placement of the filler, however, if you are taking medication such as Roacutine this also causes lumpy lip fillers – we won’t treat someone if they are on this medication
2. Now the swelling has gone, it doesn’t look like there’s any filler. This is quite a common issue – it’s caused by the practitioner injecting the filler too deep so it just doesn’t show very much. Good practitioners will always inject to the right depth to give the maximum effect with the volume of filler used
3. Lips appear white where the filler went in – this is the opposite to the above – the filler has been put in too shallow. It’s a really fine balancing act to get it just right.
4. The filler migrates beyond the lip line. This can because if there’s too much filler put into the lips or just bad placement. It really isn’t a good look
5. Duck lips – nobody wants these but so often we see people who end up with this look – it’s just bad placement of filler and inexperience
6. Lips are not balanced or even – once again this is normally due to more filler going in one side than the other.
These are only a few of the things that can go wrong but pick the right practitioner who is highly experienced and you are unlikely to experience any of the above. That isn’t to say even the best are perfect every time – mistakes can happen, they are few and far between but then you want to use a practitioner that will sort out any minor issues quickly and effectively.
So there you have it - lots to take on board but if you are thinking about having any type of filler done, please don't take it lightly. Take the time to find a great practitioner, you deserve it.
If you would like to look at our availability and pricing for our treatments at Contour Couture, please follow this link to out booking page