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LAB RAT:

FIRST TIME
LIP FILLERS

I had a million questions before getting fillers. Plastic surgeon
Dr. Lara Devgan answered them all.


Written ByCARRIE BARBER

It seems these days the conversation around skin is less “What do you use on your face?” and more “What do you use in your face?” I first heard about New York plastic surgeon Dr. Lara Devgan when VIOLET GREY was testing her (now VIOLET-CODE-approved) lip plumper and I tried it on a shoot. I was instantly obsessed (this product is basically temporary fillers in a tube) so I looked her up on Instagram and 10 minutes later, I was asking for her number.

Growing up, I had never once considered plastic surgery or Botox. My mother hardly has any wrinkles and swears by sunscreen and water as her skin care regimen. She was (and still is) a big advocate of living naturally, an ethos I’ve adopted as well. But recently, fillers started to pique my interest. That could be because I live in Los Angeles, where cosmetic tweaks are a big part of the beauty conversation. (Many of my friends started getting Botox in their early twenties, touting it as preventative.) Or because I just turned 30. It’s not that I have a lot of wrinkles—I don’t. But I have started to notice some things that bother me a bit: laugh lines, a slightly lazy eyelid, skin that just doesn’t seem quite as tight as it once was. The thing that I thought about the most though were my lips. Lips are sexy. Mine didn’t necessarily feel thin, but I felt that they would be more proportionate and suit my face better if they were fuller. Still me, just slightly more seductive.

But I was reluctant to dive into anything that was going to need constant upkeep for the rest of my life. And I didn’t want to be stuck with anything trend-driven. I also didn’t know where to start. It was important to me to find someone who would spend time with me, talk through all the options and do what was right for my face, not a copy-and-paste job. I found all that in Dr. Devgan. Here’s what happened:

THE CONSULTATION

When I was in New York in February, I visited Dr. Devgan’s Upper East Side office. I was a little nervous and I couldn’t help but think of that Sex and The City episode where Samantha’s plastic surgon Sharpies her entire body. But she immediately made me feel at ease. Going into it I knew I wanted to get my lips done and I quizzed her for a good 25 minutes before she got to the procedure (I feel lucky if I get 10 minutes with my G.P.). She’s not only warm and approachable but extremely smart and communicates how and what she does in a way that’s easy to understand. She walked me through every step, including how she would fill out my lips to make them fuller and more symmetrical.

THE INJECTIONS

Once I committed, her nurse applied numbing cream and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then, Dr. Devgan went to work. A heads up: the actual injections were quick, but they hurt. I have a low pain tolerance and was PMS-ing, at which point even putting on a pair of jeans brings tears to my eyes, so it’s quite possible my perception of pain was skewed. Regardless, Dr. Devgan talked me through it and made me feel at ease.

THE RESULTS

After the treatment, I iced as much as I could that day to keep the swelling as minimal as possible. The next day the swelling was almost completely gone. And I’m happy to report that I love the results: My lips look super natural and it’s amazing what a difference symmetry makes. The size and shape enhance my face without changing it and even makes my eyes look more defined. Only my closest friends can tell they’re bigger. By writing this story, I’ve just outed myself. (Hi Mom, baby got her lips done!) TBD on her thoughts, but whatever they are, I feel more confident and way sexier.

DR. DEVGAN'S TIPSHEET
For someone considering fillers for the first time, where should they start?
“Think about what you are going for—whether it is a more symmetrical nose, more defined cheekbones, fuller lips, or something else, and find inspiration images as a starting point, which can be a helpful way to frame a conversation with your plastic surgeon. And make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (aka for yourself and not for someone else).”
What's important to look for in a doctor?
“I highly value the expertise of board-certified plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Injectables have unfortunately become the Wild West of medicine—there are few regulations, and anyone who can buy products is injecting them. This makes it a scary time for consumers. Check the educational credentials, residency training, and board-certification of your doctors. Look at many before and after images, including videos, to understand the process and the results you are likely to get. Ask your friends and doctors for their recommendations. Above all, trust your gut. If you walk into someone's office and you don't feel safe, comfortable, and well cared for, don't proceed.”
At what point is someone ready for cosmetic tweaks?
“Truly, whenever you want. I've treated patients ranging in age from teens to 90s. I’d say the best time to get Botox is before you start to see fine lines in repose. Your face is like a piece of paper—if you fold it a million times, it eventually becomes difficult to smooth out. Baby Botox (or a micro-dosage of Botox for a subtle effect) is a good way to prevent fine lines from becoming deeply etched wrinkles. Injectable fillers can be used to shape, plump, lift, and replace lost volume as you age into your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. It's not so much about age as it is about your anatomy and goals. You would never drive your car your entire life without changing the oil and getting it serviced. Your face is not that different. Keeping it healthy and maintained requires some effort. It's just another part of self care.”
What do you recommend to complement in-office procedures?
“Prevention is key. Starting in your 20s, you should focus on maintaining your skin quality with a hyaluronic serum and an SPF in the morning; at night it’s all about a retinol and vitamin C serum. (Confession: I religiously use my own products, and they’ve kept my skin in good shape).”
Any advice for someone wrestling with a decision?
“Don't let people make you feel like you can't be a person of substance and also care about how you look. You can most certainly be a feminist with lipstick on, and you can absolutely make meaningful contributions in the boardroom or classroom or operating room, while wanting to smooth out your frown lines or straighten your nose. For too long society has been telling women and men what we can and can't do. It's OK to work on your abs, color your hair, or get injectables if you want—as long as you are doing those things in a safe and responsible manner.”