I was scared. Why had I agreed to have filler injected into my face? Okay, full disclosure: I hadn't just agreed. I'd actually suggested it. I disliked the fine lines around my lips (medical term: perioral wrinkles) and decided it was time to get rid of them, knowing that injections of a hyaluronic acid filler such as Restylane or Juvéderm can plump up fine lines with a risk only of minimal bruising. So one day when I was especially unfond of my perioral wrinkles (and feeling braver than usual), I phoned New York City plastic surgeon Haideh Hirmand, MD, for an appointment. Whip-smart, perfectionistic, and beautiful, the doctor parked me in a treatment room and began educating me on the mechanics of the procedure. She would use the filler Restylane because it has a high concentration of hyaluronic acid (which also helps the skin generate collagen) and because it's the right consistency for the superfine needle she uses. (Average cost: $560.) The filler would work only on the deeper lines. Did I want her to fill them all? Yes, I said. But could she do that without making me look like a mallard? "We'll start very conservatively," she told me kindly. After numbing my upper lip with lidocaine cream and injecting the gums under my lip with novocaine (the lips, filled with nerve endings, are highly sensitive), Hirmand made the first injection. "See this?" she said encouragingly, pointing to the newly plumped-up line. "Almost no bruising and about a 70 percent improvement." She filled in the other lines, showing me the results after each injection. Then she iced my lip and instructed me to keep icing it every half hour for several hours.
A week later, my upper lip—like a bumper that's had the dings banged out of it—looks a lot smoother. The wrinkles will eventually deepen again, unless I stop kissing and slurping and pursing. Since there's as much chance of that as there is the price of gasoline dropping to ten cents a gallon, I'll probably be back for more filler in a year or so. —Valerie Monroe