Lip Injections (Lip Fillers) vs Lip Implants: What’s The Difference?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on November 22, 2021 No Comments

plump lips

Lip augmentation is a highly popular cosmetic procedure with the goal of increasing lip volume, resulting in enhanced lips that are both fuller and more symmetrical. Two of the most popular Lip augmentation techniques are lip implants and lip injections (or lip fillers). The main difference between the two surrounds invasiveness: lip implant procedures are surgical whereas lip injections are non-surgical.

If you are considering lip augmentation, it is vital to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each treatment option. Here’s a basic rundown of the differences between lip implant surgery and lip fillers.

About Lip Fillers (Lip Injections)

Lip fillers inject hyaluronic acid-based filler into the lips to increase lip fullness. Fillers are available in several different thicknesses. The amount of filler used can also be adjusted to control shape and volume.

Lip Filler Results

Lip fillers typically offer a subtle, natural-looking lip augmentation, although more can be used for a poutier lip. Lip injections address lip volume, shape and symmetry, and can even improve wrinkles and fine lines around the lips.

Because hyaluronic acid fillers are eventually absorbed by the body, lip filler results last approximately 6-12 months. Touch-ups are safe and help maintain results for longer.

About Lip Implants

Lip implants offer a more permanent lip augmentation solution than injectables. Lip implants are typically made from silicone, and inserted into the lips through tiny incisions hidden in the corners of the mouth. Implants are available in several shapes and sizes.

Lip Implant Results

Implants are often chosen for fuller, dramatic results, but a smaller sized implant can create subtle, natural-looking results. Implants enhance lip volume and can correct issues with lip imbalances.

Once placed, implants require an additional surgery to remove, making them a good choice for permanent lip augmentation.

Lip Injections vs Implants: The Main Differences

Both lip injections and lip implants are relatively simple, outpatient procedures. There are, however, important differences between the two, especially when it comes to risk and permanency of results.


  • Lip fillers are the least invasive of the two procedures, requiring only a few injections through a special micro needle. Pain is minimal, with many patients comparing the injection to the feeling of a rubber band snap on the skin.  Lip fillers also frequently contain lidocaine, a local anesthetic that makes the lips feel numb for several hours after the injections.
  • Lip implants are more invasive, requiring small incisions (usually two), which are typically hidden in the corners of the mouth. While anesthesia is used during the procedure, patients may feel moderate pain directly following the surgery. Any pain or discomfort, however, can be effectively managed through pain medication.


  • Lip fillers require no downtime, patients can undergo treatment during their lunch break and return to work directly afterword. Minor bruising or swelling can occur following injection, but typically resolves on its own within a couple of days.
  • Lip implants requires moderate recover time (downtime), typically 2-3 weeks. Patients will have one or two absorbable stitches and may encounter moderate bruising and swelling post-procedure.

How Fast Results Appear

  • Results from lip injections are nearly immediate, although minor swelling may alter the look of the lips for the first 1-2 days.
  • Results from lip implants will begin to become apparent after 1-2 weeks once swelling subsides. Incisions should heal within 3 weeks revealing the final result of the surgery.

Results Duration

  • Lip filler results are temporary as dermal fillers are slowly absorbed by the body’s natural metabolic process over time. Patients can expect the results of lip fillers to last between 6-12 months. However, patients can choose to extend the results by undergoing subsequent treatment sessions.
  • The results of Lip implants are permanent. Patients can expect to enjoy results for decades with proper maintenance.

Side Effects & Risks

  • The side effects of lip injections are typically minor and include temporary bruising or swelling at the injection site.
  • The risks of lip implants, while rare, can include infection, allergic reaction, implant shifting and lip asymmetry, all of which are mitigated by choosing a board certified plastic surgeon.

Additional Benefits

  • Lip fillers can be used to address other signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines that occur on or around the lips.
  • Lip implants are an effective option for correcting overly thin or imbalanced lips.


  • Lip injections may cost less upfront, but having to undergo periodic maintenance adds up over time.
  • Lip implants have a higher initial cost. However, since they yield permanent results there is no maintenance costs.

Final Appearance

  • Lip fillers are a good choice for natural-looking results.
  • Lip implants are ideal for creating a more dramatic enhancement.

Why Lip injections Are a Smart First Step

Patients who are interested in lip augmentation may want to try lip fillers first. Experimenting with an injectable can help you decide which level of fullness you like best, before committing to the permanence of lip implants. Lip fillers will fade on their own over time, but they may also be dissolved if you decide the look is not for you.


Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

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