Signs of Bad Lip Filler: Recognizing and Addressing Complications

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

Lip fillers are a popular cosmetic treatment aimed at achieving fuller, plumper lips. However, when performed incorrectly, they can lead to undesirable outcomes.

Signs of bad lip filler include excessive bruising, lumpiness, uneven texture, and in severe cases, necrosis of lip tissue. These complications can arise from improper injection techniques, incorrect filler selection, or allergic reactions. It’s crucial to recognize these signs early and seek professional advice to manage and correct them. 

Recognizing the Signs of Bad Lip Filler

When lip fillers don’t go as planned, the signs can be both physically uncomfortable and aesthetically displeasing. Knowing what to look out for can help you take timely action and prevent further complications.

Bruising Beyond Normal Expectations

Identifying Excessive Bruising: Bruising after lip filler injections is common, but when it’s excessive, it could indicate a problem. Normal bruising should subside within a week and will often appear as small, localized discolorations. Excessive bruising, on the other hand, may spread beyond the lip area and persist, suggesting that the injections may have damaged deeper blood vessels. If the bruising is accompanied by pain or swelling, it’s important to consult with a medical professional as these could be signs of a hematoma or other complications.

Hematoma Development and Risks: A hematoma after lip filler injections is a collection of blood outside of blood vessels, often presenting as a large, tender bruise. It can develop when a blood vessel is compromised during the injection process. While small hematomas may go away on their own, larger ones can increase the risk of infection and may require medical intervention. If you notice a firm, swollen area that feels different from the surrounding tissue, it’s crucial to seek medical attention to prevent potential tissue damage or infection.

Lumpiness and Uneven Texture

Causes of Lumpiness: Lumpiness following lip filler injections can result from several factors, including the type of filler used, the technique of the injector, and the individual’s response to the treatment. Fillers with a high viscosity may be more prone to forming lumps, especially if injected superficially or unevenly. Additionally, an individual’s immune response can lead to granuloma formation, which feels like firm nodules. Massaging the area shortly after treatment can help distribute the filler evenly, but persistent lumps may require professional assessment and potential dissolution with enzymes like hyaluronidase.

Allergic Reactions and Their Indicators: Allergic reactions to lip fillers, though rare, can manifest in various ways and require prompt attention. Common indicators include prolonged redness, swelling, and itchiness at the injection site. In some cases, patients may experience hives or even anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially life-threatening reaction. These symptoms can develop immediately after the injection or within a few days. It’s crucial to differentiate between normal post-procedure swelling and signs of an allergy. If you suspect an allergic reaction, it’s very important to contact a healthcare provider immediately. They may prescribe antihistamines or steroids to manage the reaction, and in severe cases, emergency medical treatment may be necessary.

Necrosis of Lip Tissue

Symptoms of Necrosis: Necrosis in lip tissue is a serious complication characterized by the death of cells in the affected area. Symptoms typically include severe pain that doesn’t go away with standard pain relief measures, a noticeable change in lip color to a dark purple or black, a cold sensation in the tissue, and skin breakdown leading to open wounds. These signs can appear within hours to a few days post-injection and indicate that the filler may be obstructing blood flow. Immediate recognition of these symptoms is crucial for the viability of the lip tissue and to minimize the risk of permanent damage.

Urgency of Treatment for Necrosis: When necrosis of lip tissue is suspected, time is of the essence. This condition requires urgent medical intervention to restore blood flow and prevent permanent tissue damage or scarring. Treatments may include dissolving the filler with hyaluronidase, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or surgical intervention in severe cases. Delaying treatment can result in significant complications, including disfigurement of the lips. Therefore, any signs of necrosis should be treated as a medical emergency.

Immediate Steps to Take for Suspected Bad Lip Filler

When suspecting a bad lip filler job, it’s crucial to recognize the signs early and understand the immediate steps to take. This can help mitigate any potential complications and lead to a quicker solving.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Severe Pain and Discoloration: Severe pain that is not reduced by over-the-counter pain medication and discoloration that extends beyond the typical bruising associated with lip fillers are signs that require immediate medical attention. Pain may indicate complications such as vascular occlusion or infection, while discoloration, especially a white or bluish one, could suggest compromised blood flow. These symptoms should be treated as a potential emergency, and contacting a healthcare provider promptly is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent long-term damage.

Signs of Vascular Occlusion: Vascular occlusion is a critical complication where blood flow is blocked, typically by the filler material. Signs include severe pain at the injection site, skin blanching, and a change in skin color to white or a dusky purple. The affected area may also feel cool to the touch and exhibit a mottled or reticulated pattern. These symptoms require immediate medical attention as vascular occlusion can lead to tissue necrosis if not promptly addressed. It’s vital for individuals to be aware of these signs and for practitioners to be prepared to take swift action, which may include dissolving the filler and restoring blood flow.

Managing Minor Complications at Home

Safe Practices for Swelling and Discomfort: Minor swelling and discomfort are common after lip filler injections and can often be managed at home. Applying a cold compress in short intervals can help reduce swelling and provide relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, can be used to manage discomfort. It’s important to follow post-procedure instructions provided by the practitioner, which may include keeping the head elevated and avoiding strenuous activities. Gentle lip movements and proper hydration can also aid in the recovery process. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, it’s crucial to seek professional advice.

When to Seek Further Medical Advice: While minor complications can typically be managed at home, there are instances when further medical advice is necessary. If swelling increases or spreads beyond the lip area, if there is excessive bruising, signs of infection, or if any discomfort becomes severe and unmanageable with at-home care, professional evaluation is needed. Additionally, any symptoms that could indicate a vascular occlusion or an allergic reaction should prompt immediate medical attention. It’s better to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure proper care and prevent more serious complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my lip filler job was done poorly?

Poorly done lip fillers may result in asymmetry, excessive bruising, lumpiness, or an unnatural appearance. If you experience severe pain or any signs of infection, consult a medical professional.

Are there any signs of bad lip filler that require immediate medical attention?

Yes, signs such as severe pain, white or blue skin discoloration, vision changes, or signs of infection require immediate medical attention.

What should I do if I notice lumps in my lips post-injection?

Small lumps may go away with gentle massage, but persistent or large lumps should be evaluated by your provider.

Can necrosis be treated if caught early?

Yes, early treatment of necrosis is crucial and can include interventions like dissolving the filler and restoring blood flow to minimize damage.

What steps should I take if I suspect an infection after lip filler treatment?

Contact your provider immediately for an assessment; you may require antibiotics or other treatments to address the infection.

Is it possible to reverse a bad lip filler job?

Yes, especially if the filler is hyaluronic acid-based, it can often be reversed with the enzyme hyaluronidase.


Understanding the potential risks and complications associated with lip fillers is essential for anyone considering this cosmetic procedure. Recognizing the signs of a bad lip filler job, knowing when to seek medical advice, and being informed about the corrective measures available can help ensure patient safety and satisfaction. It's also crucial to select a qualified and experienced provider to minimize the risk of adverse outcomes. With the right knowledge and care, individuals can achieve the desired aesthetic results while maintaining their lip health.

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Vedamurthy M. (2018). Beware What You Inject: Complications of Injectables-Dermal Fillers.

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.