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Can I Fly After Lip Injections?

woman with pout lips holding little paper airplane

There is much debate regarding whether it is safe or advisable to fly soon after lip injections. While some clinics advise patients to wait a few days after a lip filler procedure before flying, others suggest that there is no evidence supporting why one should avoid flying.

So can you fly after lip injections? Ideally, you should wait anywhere from 3-7 days after lip injections before going on a long flight. This is to avoid worsening the expected discomfort and side effects of a typical lip filler procedure, such as bruising, swelling, and dryness, which longer flights (three hours or more) can aggravate.

Why We Experience Side Effects After Lip Fillers

Before discussing how air travel aggravates lip filler side effects, it’s important to understand exactly why lip fillers have side effects in the first place.

Side effects commonly experienced after lip injections include bruising, swelling, and dryness of the lips. Researchers have found that up to 68% of lip filler patients experience some kind of bruising after the procedure. These bruises can last anywhere from a few days to up to two weeks, depending on the patient’s body and the doctor’s procedure.

But what exactly causes the most common side effects after a lip filler procedure?

Bruising: Bruising is an unpredictable consequence of lip injections. Some patients can walk away from multiple injections without a single bruise developing, while other patients may experience bruising from their first procedure.

Bruising is the body’s response to trauma, in which blood vessels underneath the skin are broken by the lip injection. The blood and other material inside the blood vessel leak out, creating the discoloration under the skin.

It is difficult for even the most experienced lip filler doctors to know which injection sites will lead to broken blood vessels, which is why this is a common minor side effect of the procedure.

Swelling: Swelling can either be a major complication of lip fillers or a minor and temporary side effect. In rare cases (or when performed by an inexperienced injector), swelling may be a result of an allergic reaction to the injected substance, a result of too much filler injected into the area, or the use of a bad filler that has difficulty breaking down in the body.

In these cases, patients will notice the swelling to last longer than a week, and a follow-up procedure is required to fix the issue.

In most cases, swelling is a temporary side effect. It may be a result of the physical trauma of the injection, or due to the hydrophilic nature of a common lip filler gel, hyaluronic acid (causing increased levels of water in the lips for a short time).

Bruising and swelling are usually both minor side effects that should cause no concern. Patients can generally expect to experience both bruising and swelling for up to a week after the procedure, as it takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks for lip fillers to settle.

Read more: Lip Fillers and Your Smile: The Good and the Bad

Why Lip Fillers Need Time to Settle

While lip fillers can result in notable changes to the lips immediately after the procedure, they still need enough time to properly settle beneath the skin.

Popular lip fillers like Juvéderm are made out of hyaluronic acid, which begins a long process of naturally hydrating the skin after it is injected. It does this with its hydrophilic properties, in which it binds with water molecules in the skin to volumize the lips. This process leads to plumper, juicier lips after 1-2 weeks.

Lip fillers also leave the lips feeling unnaturally full and firm after the injection, not as a result of the lip filler itself, but because of the body’s immediate reaction to the trauma (swelling and bruising). The lips need a few days to recover properly while the lip filler dissolves and integrates with the skin.

Lip Fillers and Air Travel

woman sitting by the airplane window

The Unusual Ways Flying Affects the Body

Air travel affects us in more ways than just aching backs and butts after sitting for many hours. Unlike other forms of prolonged travel, air travel dramatically alters our environment. These minuscule but significant changes to the environment disturb the body’s everyday processes, affecting the body in unexpected ways.

ConditionCause
Greater chance of headacheKnown as “altitude sickness”, this is due to the body’s inability to fully absorb oxygen in a pressurized air cabin, leading to increased stress and fatigue on the body and the head
Increased levels of flatulence (gassiness)An increase of air in the bowel caused by the pressure drop in the cabin environment
Getting dried out (leading to extra level of thirst, extra vulnerability to sickness and pimples)Cabins have low humidity during air travel, drying out the body extensively. This leads to extreme thirst, as well as the drying out of the part of the sinuses and throat that help protect us from sickness, the mucous membrane. The skin also becomes oilier to help compensate for the dryness, leading to pimples
Numb taste budsThe recirculated air in the plane is dryer than the air we normally breathe, leading to swollen nasal membranes and evaporated mucus. This leads to the inability to properly taste and smell food, which is why airplane food is made with heavier spices
Sleepiness and fatigueAnother symptom of breathing in recirculated air. We take in less oxygen with recirculated air, causing sleepiness during air travel. Fatigue is caused by the cabin pressure in the plane, as well as the G-force experienced during take-off

As we can see, air travel creates an environment that the body does not normally face. This leads to various unexpected side effects, which only become worse if the body is not in a completely healthy state prior to the flight.

While lip fillers are generally safe, they do put the lips in a minor state of trauma, particularly in the first 48-72 hours after the procedure. Minor changes in the environment on longer flights (flights three hours or more) can lead to side effects for your lips that you wouldn’t normally experience.

How Flying Affects the Lips

The lips are extremely vulnerable up to the first 48-72 hours after a lip filler procedure (and are still sensitive for up to a week or two after), which is why your lip filler doctor will recommend a number of aftercare tips to help minimize bruising, swelling, and other side effects.

While air travel doesn’t create any new side effects for your lips, it increases the likelihood of developing side effects, or worsens side effects that have already developed.

Here are the ways flying affects the lips after a lip filler procedure:

Bruising

Patients should generally avoid rigorous physical activity such as the gym or labor-intensive tasks for several days after a lip filler procedure. This is because the capillaries in the lips may be broken or damaged, and require an ideal environment to heal properly.

Activities that increase blood flow, blood pressure, and heart rate for extended periods make it much more difficult for capillaries to heal.

Unfortunately, air travel increases both the blood pressure and the heart rate. The high altitude of a flight makes it more difficult to absorb the oxygen in the air, leading to a minor state of hypoxemia and hypoxia (oxygen deficiency in the blood and tissues). These conditions lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure.

While this isn’t enough to cause serious issue in most passengers, it can trigger bruise development or worsen current upper lip bruises for those who have recently undergone lip injections.

Swelling

The first 48-72 hours after a lip injection are the most important stage of the lip filler and its state of settling underneath the skin. Lip fillers – particularly hyaluronic acid – interact with the hydration levels in the lips, creating the volumizing effect by binding water molecules to its gel-like substance.

The dry and pressurized setting of an airplane cabin during a flight forces the lips and the lip fillers into an environment they weren’t designed to face.

In some cases, patients may experience the lip filler providing disappointing results, as the air and the lips were too dry during a critical period for the water-binding to work. In other cases, there might be excessive swelling and puffiness, due to the filler reacting unexpectedly to the abnormal levels of dryness in the air.

Still Need to Fly? Some In-Air Care Tips

lip injections airplane tips

Drink tons of water: The most important point is to keep yourself hydrated. While the results of lip fillers during prolonged air travel are unpredictable, your best bet is to stay refreshed and hydrated, to keep your body as close to a normal state as you can.

Avoid eating salty food: Planes are filled with salty snacks, from pretzels to crackers. Salty food decreases your hydration, making it difficult to keep yourself at a normal level.

Eat pineapples: Before and after your procedure, add some daily servings of pineapples to your daily diet. Pineapples have been found to contain bromelain, which have been proven to help protect the body from bruising.

Use a numbing cream: Your lip filler procedure should involve the use of a numbing cream or anesthetic cream. Not only does this reduce pain during the procedure, but it also tightens blood vessels in the lip, helping to prevent bruising.

Ask for ice: For patients who want more protection during longer flights, ask your flight attendant for ice, and keep your lips wet by rubbing the ice over your lips.

Lip Filler Expertise at Ethos Spa

Like all cosmetic and medical procedures, the success and experience of your lip filler injection rests most critically on your choice of doctor. Choosing a doctor and medical team that truly understands your needs and concerns is the difference between a quick, happy, and painless procedure and recovery versus one filled with complications and risks.

At Ethos Spa, Skin and Laser Center, we have been working with lip injections and other cosmetic medical procedures for years in the New Jersey area. We attend to every patient individually, to ensure that our results reach and surpass their goals.

For more information on lip injections or to schedule your consultation, contact us today at Ethos Spa.