Lip filler migration: The most important things you need to know

By Dr. Aaron Stanes

Treatment guide

Discover the vital information you MUST know about lip enhancement & fillers with our detailed guide written by expert cosmetic doctors.


    Worried about lip filler migration? Here’s how to know your lip filler has migrated, what to do about it and how to avoid it.

    Not everything always goes to plan when you set out to enhance your lips with filler. One of the most common problems with cosmetic treatments in recent years is lip filler migration. If you’re considering lip fillers, it is important to know how to avoid lip filler migration. If you’re worried that your lip filler has migrated, knowing how to tell and what to do will help to alleviate your concerns.

    What is lip filler migration?

    Lip filler migration is where dermal filler that has been injected into the lips has moved away from its original location. Lip filler most commonly migrate above or below the borders of the lips or to the inside of the lips. It can also move around within lips, causing the filler to end up all in one spot causing notable asymmetry and lip filler lumps. The lips are more prone to filler migration than other parts of the face because of their limited space to hold filler, and their constant movement with speaking and eating during the day.

    Why does lip filler migrate?

    There are a few key reasons that cause lip fillers to migrate. Incorrect injection technique by inexperienced or under-qualified practitioners is one of the leading causes. If too much lip filler has been placed in one area, or it has been injected too deeply, then the filler can immediately migrate out of the lips or form lip filler lumps.

    Another common cause of lip filler migration is over-filling. This occurs if too much lip filler is injected in one session, or if you have too many lip filler treatments to close together.

    Using the wrong type of filler for your specific lip tissue type can also increase the risk of migration. An experienced practitioner will know how to match the right lip filler to your lip tissue type.

    Importantly, even if your treatment is done with the utmost care and caution, migration is still a small possibility. Strictly following your treatment aftercare instructions is vital to keep the risk of your lip fillers migrate to a minimum.

    How do I know if my lip filler has migrated?

    Some of the most important signs of lip filler migration include the following:

    1. Uneven lips: If your lips become asymmetrical or uneven after lip filler, it may be a sign that the filler has migrated. It is important to be aware of your natural pre-existing asymmetry when assessing this.
    2. Persistent lip lumps: If you have persistent lip lumps after a lip filler treatment, this may indicate that the filler has migrated and aggregated.
    3. A loss of definition: People with lip filler migration are often unhappy with the definition of their lips. Rather than go back for more filler in an attempt to enhance definition, you should consider the possibility that your lip filler has migrated.
    4. A ledge or shelf effect: Migration of filler out of your top lip can give an apparent ledge or shelf appearance seen as a horizontal  crease or shadow. It is also know as a filler moustache, as the shadow can make it appear like you have a moustache on the upper lip.
    5. Mucosal bubbles: Lip filler that has migrated to the inside of the lips will cause small blister-like spots on the inside of your lips. You generally can only see these when smiling, or if you pull the lips up or down and inspect the inside (mucosal surface).

    How do you prevent lip filler migration?

    Lip filler migration is extremely easy to avoid, so there is no need to be afraid of lip fillers. Further, on the rare chance the your lip filler does move, it is generally very simple to manage. There are a few key steps that you can take to avoid lip filler migration:

    1. Choose an experienced and reputable clinic with before and after photos of healed results from lip fillers.
    2. Let your practitioner select the most appropriate filler to inject into your lips. Beware clinics that ask you to choose the product based on its thickness.
    3. Start conservative, especially if you have small lips to begin with. Building your result gradually with caution is always the way to go.
    4. Avoid having treatments too frequently. Generally you’ll need 1-3 initial sessions in the first 6-12 months, and you should then only need to maintain every 12-24 months (sometimes even longer).
    5. Have realistic expectations about your result. Beware what you see online, as most clinics only show you before and after images taken immediately after injection, with bright lighting and lip gloss/makeup. These distort your idea of what kind of result you can expect. Once healed, results do not look like this, and chasing them will almost always lead to lip filler migration. Ask to see standardised photos of a healed result with the same lighting and a consistent angle.
    6. Finally, always follow the prescribed aftercare so that the lip filler settles in position. This can take 1-2 weeks, so avoiding migration is also partly your responsibility.

    What to do if your lip filler has migrated

    Are you worried that your lip filler has migrated? Wanting to do something about the anxiety that comes with it? No need to panic as treating lip filler migration is a very simple process. As lip filler is not permanent, a simple approach is just to avoid any further lip filler treatments until your body has time to break down some of the migrated filler.

    If you don’t want to wait for your migrated lip filler to wear off, then you can book in for lip filler dissolving with as here at Cosmetic Connection. Dissolving lip filler is a simple process that works immediately. With our advanced lip filler dissolving protocols, there will be almost no discomfort, and any swelling should resolve very quickly.

    If you want to refill your lips after having them dissolved, you should wait 2 weeks before doing so. Sometimes starting with a fresh canvas is the best way to achieve a natural-looking lip enhancement that you can feel great about.

    Check out information on dissolving lip filler at our filler dissolving & correction page.

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