How to Reduce Swelling After Fillers: What Could Help

Medically Reviewed
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aurora Kalmanson on
Written by Fillers Editorial Team, plastic surgery specialists.

Swelling is a common response to filler injections, particularly in sensitive areas like the lips. To minimize swelling, apply cold compresses, keep your head elevated, and stay hydrated.

Over-the-counter remedies such as antihistamines and arnica cream can also reduce discomfort. It’s crucial to avoid strenuous activities, extreme temperatures, and certain medications that can make swelling worse. If swelling persists beyond a few days or is accompanied by pain or redness, consult your healthcare provider. Proper aftercare and choosing a qualified cosmetic surgeon are key to a smooth recovery and optimal results.

Immediate Aftercare to Reduce Swelling

Prompt and proper aftercare following filler injections is crucial for reducing swelling and accelerating recovery. Simple measures can be taken immediately after the procedure to ensure the best possible healing environment.

Cold Compresses and Ice Packs

Application Techniques: The use of cold compresses or ice packs is a tried-and-true method for managing swelling after filler injections. To apply, wrap an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas in a soft cloth to protect the skin from direct cold exposure. Gently press the compress against the swollen area without applying excessive force, which could make swelling worse or displace the filler. It’s important to move the compress around periodically to avoid overcooling any single spot, which can lead to frostbite or skin irritation. For areas like the lips, a small, flexible gel pack or even a chilled spoon can conform to the contours and provide soothing relief.

Frequency and Duration: For optimal results, apply the cold compress intermittently—10 minutes on followed by at least 20 minutes off—to prevent skin damage and provide continuous relief. This cycle can be repeated several times throughout the first day post-injection when swelling is typically at its peak. The cold helps to constrict blood vessels, reducing the flow of fluid into the affected tissues and thus minimizing swelling. It’s generally recommended to continue this practice for at least 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, or as advised by the healthcare provider.

Elevation Strategies

Sleeping with Elevated Head: Elevating the head during sleep is an effective strategy to reduce swelling after fillers. By propping up with an extra pillow or two, gravity assists in decreasing the accumulation of fluids in the facial area. This position helps to minimize the pooling of blood and lymphatic fluid, which can contribute to swelling. It’s particularly beneficial during the first few nights post-treatment when swelling tends to be more pronounced. Patients should aim for a comfortable angle that supports the neck and back, as maintaining this elevated position throughout the night is key for its effectiveness.

Avoiding Head-Down Positions: Post-filler, it’s advisable to avoid positions that encourage blood flow to the face, such as bending over or engaging in activities like yoga poses that invert the body. These positions can increase blood pressure in the facial region, potentially worsening swelling and bruising. Patients should also be mindful of their posture throughout the day, avoiding leaning forward for extended periods, which can lead to increased swelling in the treated areas.

Hydration and Dietary Adjustments

Importance of Water Intake: Staying well-hydrated is essential for reducing swelling after filler treatments. Adequate water intake helps maintain the body’s balance of fluids and encourages the elimination of toxins that can contribute to inflammation. Water supports the body’s natural healing processes and can help to distribute the hyaluronic acid evenly throughout the treated area. Patients are advised to drink plenty of water before and after their filler procedures to ensure optimal hydration levels. This is particularly important in the first few days post-treatment when the body is adjusting to the new fillers and working to reduce swelling.

Foods to Avoid: Certain foods can worsen swelling and should be avoided following filler injections. Salty foods, for instance, can lead to water retention and increased swelling. Spicy foods might also aggravate the treated areas, potentially prolonging the healing process. Additionally, foods high in sugar can cause inflammation, which may worsen swelling. Alcohol, a diuretic, can lead to dehydration and should be avoided, as it can also increase the risk of bruising and swelling. Patients are encouraged to read labels and be mindful of their intake of these foods and beverages to help minimize swelling and promote a quicker recovery.

Beneficial Foods and Nutrients: Incorporating certain foods and nutrients into the diet can aid in reducing swelling after fillers. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help minimize swelling. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C and E are also beneficial, as they can strengthen the body’s natural healing response and support skin health. Pineapple, for example, contains bromelain, an enzyme that can reduce inflammation and bruising. Patients should aim to consume a balanced diet with a variety of these foods to support their recovery and overall well-being.

Medications and Supplements

Safe Pain Relief Options: While some discomfort may be expected after filler injections, it’s important to choose safe pain relief options that won’t make swelling worse. Tylenol is generally recommended as it does not have the blood-thinning properties of NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin, which can increase the risk of bruising and swelling. It’s crucial to follow the dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication post-treatment to ensure it’s appropriate and won’t interfere with the healing process.

Antihistamines and Arnica Cream: Antihistamines can be effective in managing swelling, particularly if the patient is prone to allergic reactions. They work by reducing the body’s histamine response, which can contribute to swelling and redness. Arnica cream is another popular option for managing bruising and swelling. Derived from the arnica montana flower, it’s believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help speed up the recovery process. Patients should apply arnica cream as directed and consider taking oral arnica supplements before and after treatment to maximize its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I expect swelling to last after fillers?

Swelling typically subsides within a few days to a week, but it can last up to two weeks for some individuals.

Can I use makeup to cover swelling after fillers?

It's best to wait at least 24 hours after filler treatment before applying makeup to avoid irritation and allow the treatment to settle.

Is it normal for swelling to be uneven after lip fillers?

Yes, it's common for swelling to be uneven initially, as the filler settles and swelling subsides, it should even out.

What should I do if swelling persists for more than two weeks?

If swelling lasts longer than two weeks, consult your healthcare provider to ensure there are no underlying issues.

Can I use makeup or lipstick immediately after lip fillers?

You should avoid applying makeup or lipstick immediately after lip fillers to prevent infection and allow the area to heal.

Is it normal for swelling to increase the day after treatment?

Yes, swelling can peak within the first 24-48 hours after treatment before gradually decreasing.

Is it normal for swelling to occur a month after treatment?

Swelling a month after treatment is uncommon; if this occurs, contact your healthcare provider for advice.

What should I do if swelling persists beyond the expected timeframe?

If swelling persists beyond the expected timeframe, seek medical advice to rule out complications such as infection or allergic reaction.


In conclusion, swelling after filler treatments is a normal part of the healing process, with most cases resolving within a week or two. Understanding the proper aftercare, including cold compresses, elevation, and avoiding certain activities, can help manage swelling effectively. It's crucial to follow your healthcare provider's guidance and seek medical attention if you experience persistent or unusual symptoms. With the right care and precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of your fillers with minimal discomfort and downtime.

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Kim, J. H., Ahn, D. K., Jeong, H. S., & Suh, I. S. (2014). Treatment algorithm of complications after filler injection: based on wound healing process.

Dr. Aurora Kalmanson

Always Consult a Medical Specialist

The information provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as personalized medical advice. It's crucial to understand that while we are medical professionals, the insights and advice we provide are based on general research and studies. They are not tailored to individual health needs or conditions. Thus, it is essential to consult directly with a healthcare provider who can offer personalized medical advice relevant to your specific situation.