Menu

Line Above Lip After Filler: Strategies for Avoiding Migration

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

Lip fillers are a popular cosmetic treatment designed to enhance the volume and shape of the lips, but they can sometimes lead to unintended consequences, such as filler migration. This phenomenon, often highlighted on social media platforms like TikTok, can result in a “filler mustache” or an unnatural line above the lip.

Filler migration occurs when the product moves from the original injection site, potentially causing a distorted appearance. Understanding the causes, signs, and how to manage or prevent this issue is crucial for maintaining the desired aesthetic outcome and ensuring patient satisfaction.

Identifying Filler Migration Above the Lip

Identifying filler migration is crucial for corrective measures and to ensure the longevity of a satisfactory lip augmentation. Recognizing the early signs can help address the issue before it becomes more noticeable and challenging to correct.

The ‘Filler Mustache’ Phenomenon

Visual Indicators and Characteristics: The ‘filler mustache’ is a term used to describe the visible line or shadow that appears above the upper lip, indicating filler migration. This phenomenon is characterized by a distinct ridge or puffiness that disrupts the natural transition between the lip and the skin above it. The visual indicators are often most obvious when the face is at rest, but they can become more evident with certain facial expressions, such as smiling or puckering. The appearance of a ‘filler mustache’ can vary from subtle to pronounced, depending on the extent of migration and the amount of filler involved.

Physical Sensations and Discomfort: Alongside visual changes, physical sensations can signal filler migration. Patients may report a feeling of tightness or pressure in the area where the filler has migrated, which is not typically present with a standard injection. Discomfort may also arise when making certain facial expressions, as the migrated filler can create an unnatural tension in the skin above the lip. In some cases, the sensation of the filler material itself can be felt, particularly if it has formed nodules or lumps. While mild tenderness is expected immediately after the procedure, persistent discomfort or the development of new sensations weeks later calls for a consultation with a medical professional.

Distinction Between Swelling and Migration

Timeline of Swelling vs. Migration: Distinguishing between normal post-injection swelling and filler migration is essential for appropriate management. Swelling is a common and expected reaction immediately following lip filler injections, typically peaking within the first 48 to 72 hours and softening gradually over the following week. In contrast, migration may not become apparent until after the initial swelling has decreased and can develop over a more extended period. While swelling is temporary and evenly distributed, migration can present as localized fullness or irregularities that persist or worsen with time.

Symmetry and Consistency in Appearance: Symmetry and consistency are key indicators of a successful lip filler procedure. Post-treatment swelling should be symmetrical and diminish uniformly, preserving the lips’ natural balance and proportion. If asymmetry develops or persists after the expected healing period, it may be a sign of filler migration. Consistency in the lips’ appearance, both at rest and during movement, is also crucial. Any persistent unevenness or changes in the lip contour could indicate migration rather than residual swelling.

The ‘Duckbill’ Effect and Other Indicators: The ‘duckbill’ effect is a distinctive sign of filler migration, where the central portion of the upper lip sticks out in a shape similar to a duck’s bill. This effect is often accompanied by a loss of definition in the Cupid’s bow and an unnatural flatness extending to the lip border. Other indicators include the persistence of a raised area above the lip line, known as the ‘filler shelf,’ and the development of new lines or creases in the perioral region that were not present before the filler application.

Preventing and Managing Filler Migration

Preventing and managing filler migration is a complex approach that involves selecting the right injector, utilizing proper techniques, and understanding the nuances of post-treatment care.

Selecting the Right Injector

Importance of Experience and Technique: The experience and technique of the injector are vital in preventing filler migration. Experienced practitioners have a deep understanding of facial anatomy and are adept at choosing the appropriate injection sites and depths to achieve desired results while minimizing risks. They are skilled in various injection techniques and can adapt their approach to each patient’s unique facial structure. Moreover, seasoned injectors are more likely to have a refined technique that ensures even distribution of the filler, reducing the likelihood of migration and other complications.

Injection Techniques to Minimize Risks

Importance of Injection Depth and Location: The depth and location of filler injections are critical factors in achieving desired results and preventing complications like migration. Injecting too superficially can make the filler visible under the skin and more prone to displacement, while placing it too deep may not provide the intended volumizing effect. The ideal depth varies depending on the area of the lip being treated and the type of filler used. Similarly, the location of injections must be strategically planned to contour the lips naturally and support their dynamic movement. Precise placement also helps to maintain the integrity of the lip border and avoid the unnatural ‘duckbill’ effect or ‘filler mustache.’

Treatment Options for Filler Migration

Addressing filler migration effectively requires a comprehensive understanding of the available treatment options and their respective outcomes.

Dissolving Migrated Filler with Hyaluronidase

Process and Expectations: The process of dissolving migrated filler involves the injection of hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid-based fillers. The procedure is typically quick and can be performed in an office setting. Patients should have realistic expectations regarding the outcome, as the enzyme works to degrade the filler and return the lips to their pre-filler state. The amount of hyaluronidase used and the number of sessions required can vary depending on the extent of migration and the volume of filler to be dissolved.

Natural Breakdown of Filler

Time Frame and Patient Experience: The natural breakdown of lip fillers is a gradual process that varies depending on the type of filler used and the individual’s metabolism. Typically, hyaluronic acid fillers last between six months to a year before being naturally absorbed by the body. During this time, patients may notice a slow decrease in volume and definition. The experience is generally uneventful, but some may feel anxious as they observe the changing appearance of their lips. It’s important for patients to have realistic expectations about the longevity of their fillers and to plan for maintenance treatments if they wish to retain the enhanced lip volume.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my lip filler has migrated?

You may notice a blurring of the lip border, lumps above the lip line, or an uneven lip shape, which are common signs of filler migration.

What should I do if I notice a line above my lip after filler?

Consult with your injector as soon as possible to assess the situation; they may recommend treatments such as hyaluronidase to dissolve the migrated filler.

Can lip filler migration be permanent?

No, lip filler migration is not permanent. Hyaluronic acid fillers can be dissolved, and even without intervention, they will eventually be absorbed by the body.

How long should I wait before correcting migrated lip filler?

It's best to wait until any post-injection swelling has subsided, which is typically around 2 weeks, before seeking correction for migrated filler.

Are there any non-filler options to correct a "filler mustache"?

A "filler mustache" can often be corrected with hyaluronidase injections to dissolve the migrated filler, or through natural breakdown over time.

Can migrated lip filler cause long-term damage?

While typically not causing long-term damage, untreated migrated filler can lead to aesthetic concerns. It's important to address migration promptly to avoid potential complications.

Conclusion

Lip filler migration is a manageable concern with proper technique, aftercare, and treatment options. Understanding the signs of migration, selecting experienced providers, and knowing the corrective measures available are key to maintaining the desired lip appearance. Non-surgical and surgical alternatives offer additional options for those seeking lip enhancement without the use of fillers. With informed choices and professional guidance, individuals can achieve their aesthetic goals while minimizing the risk of complications.

Was this article helpful?

Yes
No

References:

Vardimon, A. D., Shpack, N., Wasserstein, A., Skyllouriotou, M., Strauss, M., Geron, S., Sadan, N., Levartovsky, S., & Sarig, R. (2020). Upper Lip Horizontal Line: Characteristics of a Dynamic Facial Line.

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/18/6672

Wege, J., Anabtawi, M., Blackwell, M. A., & Patterson, A. (2021). Lymphangioma Formation Following Hyaluronic Acid Injection for Lip Augmentation.

https://www.cureus.com/articles/48743-lymphangioma-formation-following-hyaluronic-acid-injection-for-lip-augmentation#!/

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.