Beauty

The Dangerous Side Effects Of Trying The DIY Lip Filler Trend

Dermatologists explain.

Dermatologists explain the dangerous side effects of trying the DIY lip filler trend that's all over TikTok.
Getty Images/ Claudia Miranda / EyeEm

Sometimes you can pick up some pretty brilliant beauty tips on TikTok. But then there are times where you see something go viral on TikTok, like DIY lip fillers, and you should most definitely scroll past it. Quickly.

Videos have been surfacing both on TikTok and YouTube of people injecting their lips at home or posting tutorials on how to give themselves filler at home for a fuller, plumper pout. They’re often using a Hyaluron pen, which uses pressurized air instead of a needle to deliver the filler (usually hyaluronic acid), though some people are buying pens and filler separately — either way, these non-injectable treatments are not FDA approved. And dermatologists don’t recommend using them — ever. “Those are something you can buy online that no doctor uses because we don’t know exactly what’s in them,” says Dr. Shirley Chi, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Los Angeles, adding that this trend is “so, so dangerous.”

Giving yourself filler at home comes with a slew of scary risks. “There’s risk of infection, nerve damage, ulceration, and even blindness if you inject into an artery that is connected to deep vessels leading to the back of the eye,” says Chi. Placement is crucial: “Incorrect placement of filler can cause tissue necrosis and scarring if the filler compresses or blocks important blood vessels,” says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D. “These are considered medical emergencies and have to be treated immediately to minimize the extent of damage. The lips especially have lots of blood vessels and are essentially a land mine of potential complications.”

“The lips are essentially a land mine of potential complications.”

Going to a professional is 100% your best bet not only for the filler procedure itself but to ensure you’re actually getting safe product. “Board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons buy their fillers directly from the companies that make them, like Restylane and Juvederm, and handle them with sterile technique,” adds Chi. “This is tantamount to self-mutilation.” So even if you think you’re getting hyaluronic acid — which is what’s used in professional procedures — fillers you buy online aren’t regulated, and can contain any number of harmful ingredients (they’ve been known to be illegally imported or include non-sterile substances that can cause allergic reactions).

Now, if you’re just looking for an easy way to get fuller-looking lips, turn to a plumping lip gloss. Buxom’s Power-full Plump Lip Balm and Iconic London’s Lip Plumping Gloss are two great options — and they’re completely safe.

Studies referenced:

Haneke, E. (2015). Managing Complications of Fillers: Rare and Not-So-Rare. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728901/

Robati, R. (2018). The Risk of Skin Necrosis Following Hyaluronic Acid Filler Injection in Patients With a History of Cosmetic Rhinoplasty. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/38/8/883/4915553

Experts:

Dr. Shirley Chi, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Los Angeles

Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist