Lip Fillers Gone Wrong: What To Do After A Botched Treatment

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Learn what happens when lip enhancement procedures go disastrously awry.

Lip fillers can go horribly wrong, resulting in severe complications like disfiguring lumps, swelling, tissue death, infections, and even blindness if not done properly. From “duck lips” to nodules erupting, the potential for disastrous and life-altering results from poorly administered lip fillers is very real.

We’ve all envied the beautiful, pillowy lips of celebrities and influencers, seemingly achieved with just a simple injection or two. Lip fillers have skyrocketed in popularity as an easy way to get that plumped up, youthful look. 

But as many people have discovered the hard way, these seemingly innocent cosmetic treatments can turn into serious medical nightmares when something goes wrong. From lumpy, disfiguring protrusions to severe facial injuries, lip filler complications are real – and they aren’t pretty.

What Can Possibly Go Wrong With Lip Fillers?

On the surface, lip augmentation seems so straightforward – a quick inject of soft filler gel to add volume and smoothness. 

But there’s actually a lot that can go awry, sometimes with devastating, even life-threatening consequences:

  • The “Duck Lip” Disaster: One of the most cringe-worthy lip filler fails is overfilling, resulting in a bizarrely protruding, perpendicular “duck” or “cushion” lip look. Not exactly the sultry pout you were going for!
  • Lumps, and Bumps: Uneven distribution or displacement of fillers can cause unsightly nodules, bumps and lumps to form under the lip skin. These can be disfiguring and extremely difficult to treat.
  • Injection Oddities: When fillers are injected too shallow or into the wrong areas, it can create lopsided, unnatural odd-shaped lips or the infamous “mustache” look. Yikes!
  • Infection Red Zone: Any injected filler carries risk of infection if sterile protocols aren’t followed meticulously. Severe infections, abscesses and even cases of tissue death (necrosis) have occurred.
  • Allergic Reactions: While relatively rare, some people have experienced nasty granulomas (hard lumps), severe swelling, rashes or other allergic reactions to lip filler ingredients.
  • The Vascular Occlusion Nightmare: One of the most devastating lip filler risks is an inadvertent injection into an artery, causing vascular occlusion that can rapidly lead to tissue death, permanent disfigurement and even blindness if not treated immediately.

Why Lip Fillers Can Go So Wrong

Seeing those horror story scenarios, you’re probably wondering how in the world lip fillers intended to be so simple could get so disastrously complicated?

Here are some of the main culprits behind botched lip jobs:

Injector Inexperience

Many lip filler fails can be traced back to the injector’s lack of proper training, technique and anatomical knowledge. Injectable fillers are a skilled medical procedure – not something your bestie’s cousin should be bargain-shopping for!

Shady, Non-Medical Fillers

Unscrupulously providers may use cheap, non-medical grade fillers to cut costs and increase profits, putting your safety at serious risk of complications. Steer clear of any suspiciously discounted “injectable fillers.”

Injection Gaffes

The injection process itself requires precision and skill. Fillers placed too shallow, too deep, or into the wrong areas like arteries can cause a world of problems like lumps, overfilling and vascular issues.

Unsanitary Facilities

Any reputable injector must follow strict sterility protocols to prevent infections or contamination of fillers. If an office or treatment area seems unsanitary or sketch, it’s time to rethink that appointment.

Poor Candidate Screening

Sometimes clients simply aren’t good candidates for injectable lip fillers due to health conditions, medications, or other risk factors providers should properly screen for.

So What To Do If Your Lip Filler Treatment Turns Into a Nightmare?

Even when you’ve done everything right, lip filler complications can still occur in rare cases. If you develop any of the following signs, don’t delay – get medical care right away:

  • Severe, worsening swelling or extreme bruising
  • Increasing pain, redness or heat around the lip area
  • Hard lumps or bumps forming under the lip skin
  • Dusky/purplish discoloration of the lip or surrounding tissue
  • Visual disturbances or signs of impending tissue death

Here are the steps to take if your lip filler treatment takes a scary turn:

Seek Emergency Care

For any severe symptoms, swelling that impacts breathing, extreme pain or suspected vascular occlusion, go to the emergency room or see a plastic surgeon immediately. When tissue comprises is involved, minutes count.

Explore Filler Dissolving/Removal

For temporary hyaluronic acid-based fillers, there are medical enzymes that may help dissolve and remove misplaced or problematic filler material when injected by a skilled provider.

Attempt Corrective Injections

In some cases, a qualified injector can use strategic filler placements to try camouflaging or correcting unevenness, bumps or overfilling from the previous treatment.

Consider Surgical Options

When all else fails, surgical treatments like steroid injections to reduce swelling, drainage/removal of lumps or misplaced filler, or more invasive procedures like lip lifts or fat grafts may be required to fix severe complications.

Join a Support Community

The emotional and psychological impacts of botched lip filler results can be traumatizing. There are online support groups that allow you to share your story and get advice for coping during treatment.

Preventing a Lip Filler Fail: Smart Tips for Safe, Beautiful Results

While lip filler complications are scary, most can be avoided by being an educated consumer and choosy about your provider and treatment facility. 

Follow these tips for safer, more gorgeous lip enhancements:

  • Get Smart on Qualifications: Researching your provider’s extensive credentials, training and experience in lip filler injections is a must. Only let true medical experts work on your pout.
  • View Ample Before/After Samples: Diligently review each prospective injector’s before/after photo gallery looking for examples of natural-looking results and their specific techniques.
  • Ask About Safety Protocols: At your consultation, get details about the specific lip filler product to be used, injection processes, pre/post treatment protocols, and how they prevent/handle complications.
  • Start with Less, Refine as Needed: It’s best to be conservative initially, only getting enough filler for subtle enhancement. You can always get more filler added later for a bolder look once healed.
  • Follow Every Instruction: Be diligent about following all pre- and post-treatment guidelines provided by your qualified injector regarding things like massaging areas, avoiding certain medications, etc.
  • Know When to Say No: Be aware of times when you should postpone lip filler treatment, like if you are pregnant, have an active cold sore or infection, take blood thinners, or have an autoimmune disease.
  • Choose an Accredited, Hygienic Facility: Only get lip fillers at a reputable medical clinic or medspa with proper accreditations, rigorous cleanliness standards and well-trained, experienced staff.

At the end of the day, being an informed consumer and only allowing true medical professionals to augment your pout is the best way to avoid winding up as just another botched lip filler horror story.


The good news is that the vast majority of these complications can be avoided by being an educated consumer. Always research and select an extensively trained, qualified medical provider with ample experience in administering safe, natural-looking lip filler enhancements. 

Play it smart and safe, so you get to love your perfect pout.