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Dermal Fillers

Why Do Lip Fillers Migrate

Factors like pressure may trigger a migration of lip fillers. This article explains what lip filler migration is, why lip fillers migrate and how to avoid the migration. 

Lip fillers, a dermal filler formulation, is a non-surgical procedure that helps patients achieve more voluminous lips. When done correctly, it can significantly reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Lip enhancements are one of the most popular non-surgical treatments in the UK. It majorly uses hyaluronic acid since it is produced naturally in the body; it rarely causes bruising and allergic reactions due to its compatibility with the body. Additionally, hyaluronic acid is a hydrating agent, which is an added benefit to the lips. Unfortunately, there are chances of falling for unqualified cosmetic practitioners due to the rising popularity of lip fillers and weak regulations in the UK cosmetic industry. As a result, you may experience lip filler migration. 

Understanding Lip Filler Migration?

According to Koh et al.(2019), lip filler migration entails the unintended spread of the dermal fillers to another face region away from the original injection site. Though it rarely happens, it is caused by poor aftercare practices and wrong injections. 

So, What Does a Lip Filer Migration Look Like?

When the lip filler migrates, it does not travel far. It normally goes beyond the lip border (vermillion border) and sometimes at the cutaneous lip portion. It may happen in the top and bottom lip. Mild lip filler migration may create a ledge past the lip border. On the other hand, a more noticeable lip migration may create a shelf where the ‘filler moustache’ is, causing a side projection similar to a ducky look. At times, it may cause bumps on the lip borders.

Reasons Lip Fillers Migrate

Lip Filler Movement

Lip filler movement may be caused while you are eating or talking. It is possible to have a filler migration even with a professional practitioner. After getting lip filler, it is not advisable to apply pressure on the lips; practices like using a straw while drinking fluids may propel the lip outwards. Davy &Danielle (2020) commented that lip filler migration frequently occurs in the upper lips since we tend to move it quite often while talking. 

Immune Response

Witmanowskiet al. (2020) stated that it is normal to experience swelling after getting a lip filler injection. However, in rare cases, one may experience severe swelling in response to an allergic reaction or illness. At times, the swelling may cause the filler to move. The movement mostly occurs within the first six months of the injection. 

It is worth noting that the injector technique may cause an immune response. However, it can be avoided by following certain precautions, including a thorough screening before the procedure. During the screening, the practitioner will ask about your medical history, any medications you are taking, and whether you have had any vaccine recently. These queries help the injector know whether you may be fit for the procedure or not.

Poor Injection Technique

During the procedure, the injection should be slow and controlled. Injecting the filler in haste may cause excessive pressure at the injection site, increasing the chances of migration. A qualified injector who understands human anatomy will easily understand where to inject; hence one should avoid unqualified practitioners. 

Type of Filler

There are various types of lip filler injectors that you can choose from. It all depends on the injection site and the patient’s desired results. The most common pick among injectors is the hyaluronic acid filler. Bell et al.(2022) noted that, even though the acid may also cause migration, it has lower chances of migration than fillers such as poly-l-lactic acid. Hyaluronic acid provides a more realistic look.

Additionally, it is easily reversible if a patient is dissatisfied with the outcome. The acid is dissolved with a simple and painless injection of hyaluronidase enzyme; the enzyme breaks down the filler and makes it dissolve in the skin. However, its major downfall is its water-absorbing quality which is a major cause of filer migration. Lip filler migration results when the HA filler absorbs much water to enhance volume. It may sometimes enhance volume at sites outside the injected area, causing the filler to migrate. Hence injectors should always be careful while choosing filler for their patients. Hydrophilic filers work best for patients with thinner lips. 

How Much Filer Is Used

One of the common causes of lip filler migration is injecting a lot of in one appointment. A syringe of filler is usually enough per visit to give you your desired volume. Unfortunately, clinics that generate more profit normally give patients what they want. So, instead of the patient making several appointments, they prefer getting two syringes which may lead to migration. Patients with M-shaped and thin upper lips have a higher chance of experiencing filler migration. 

How to Avoid Lip Filler Migration

The best way to prevent a lip filer migration is to extensively research an injector before the procedure. You can do this by looking at the customers’ reviews and testimonials, checking the injector’s credentials, and scrutinizing the before and after photos of various patients. It is highly recommended to go for an injector with extensive knowledge of the procedure; they know how to fix anything that goes wrong. 

Other ways you can prevent lip filler migration include:

  • Avoiding exercise 
  • Performing slow facial massages since they help smoothen the fillers returning them to their original press
  • Avoid over-touching the injection site

Frequently Asked Questions about Lip Fillers

How Long Do Lip Fillers Last?

Normally, lip fillers last for about six to twelve months, considering some factors.

Are Lip Fillers Painful?

Lip fillers are a pain-free cosmetic procedure thanks to the topical numbing cream the injector applies before the process. 


Migration of lip fillers refers to moving fillers from the injected site to other face parts. However, it is a rare side effect, and its probability of happening increases when the injector is inexperienced. There are several reasons for lip filler migration, including injection technique, the filler used, and lip movement. Several ways can prevent lip filler migration; avoiding exercise after the filler treatment, choosing an experienced professional for the injection, and not over-touching the injection.


Bell, T., & Kelso, K. (2022). Hyaluronic acid filler longevity, migration, diagnosis and implications in clinical practice. Journal of Aesthetic Nursing11(Sup2), S20-S24.

Davy, D. (2020). Dermal filler migration complications following lip augmentation procedures. Journal of Aesthetic Nursing9(7), 276-281.

Koh, I. S., & Lee, W. (2019). Classification of filler complications. In Filler Complications (pp. 1-26). Springer, Singapore.

Witmanowski, H., &Błochowiak, K. (2020). Another face of dermal fillers. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/PostępyDermatologiiiAlergologii37(5), 651-659.

Ksenia Sobchak