THE FILLERS EXPERIMENT
I am not an advocate for OR against changing one's appearance for the purpose of self fulfillment! That being said, I am opposed to coaxing or swaying personalities who may find themselves "on the fence" and follow through with augmentations on the advice of third party. The beauty industry needs to start celebrating differences and abstaining from it's cookie-cutter model image. Traits that differentiate us solidify a truly unique form of beauty that will enviably be sough out in years to come. For example freckles, large ears, moles/beauty marks, etc. Coming from a dental background, I myself am not in love with the idea of models sporting the diastema (a space in between the front teeth), but I appreciate the fact that this feature has made it into fashion magazines and mainstream media making it acceptable and commonplace. Parents who can not afford dental treatments for their children do not have to worry about their kids feeling ashamed or embarassed, because now they can easily point out popular celebrities and models who share the same dental condition. The more diverse a look, the better! With botox and fillers, breast augmentations, fuller bottoms, liposuction and the works available at your finger tips it is, self-admittedly, getting harder to accept yourself as perfect - just as is. Especially when EVERYONE is doing it. I swear, if the ladies in Beverly Hills could get their dogs lips injected just as easily as they can get their dog's hairstyle to match their own, then they would be doing it. My wandering eye is always on alert surveying the women around me to spot what they may or may not have had done. Trying my best to not judge the treatments that could have used a little more fine tuning, because I TOO have been there. Every casting I attend, I feel the pressure to look younger and at my best more than ever. I once thought, "What are the odds that every woman here has full lips, my signature trait is ruined!" And that was four years ago, then I saw lips surpass my size and realized just how common place all the injections were becoming. My once full pout, became seemingly average compared to the competition and I wasn't just going to let that happen. Not because somebody TOLD me I needed to have bigger lips, in fact almost everyone was against it - and being the type to only trust my own opinion, I went ahead with my gut and booked an appointment to try experimenting with lip fillers. I only share my experiences not to entice others, but let them see that once again (just as I did with my photoshop alterations video) not everything is as it seems. I share my trials and tribulations to bring awareness of the possibilities of what could happen.
The first time I got my lips filled, I asked for all the product to be mainly focused on my top lip. I wanted my lip proportion to be 50/50 which all the doctors seem to hate the idea of. I got Juvederm injections without any sort of freezing medication and felt the full force of how painful the procedure could be.It was tolerable to me, 7/10 for pain. Now-a-days, the products have a freezing anesthetic already built inside so you feel one prick at most. The look was great, although short lived and when I asked why the impact wasn't bigger he told me I had a very wide mouth making the product seem less impactful in comparison to others.
One year later, I jumped ship onto a new doctor with similar results. I had to make an upkeep appointment to get a little lump dissolved to be as even as my first appointment... I felt like I was wasting my money because I never saw a dramatic-enough difference, and if my grandparents weren't even noticing a difference then something must have really been off. So to save a buck and really make an impact I went to a nurse to test out their ability to inject. I thought maybe a nurse would be able to hear me out about what I didn't like about my lips and what I wanted to change. I included this before image and explained that the right side of my mouth (photo's left) was naturally sloped so I wanted this side of my mouth to receive double the amount of product as the left side, (photo's right). The bottom of my lips didn't need product because the center of my lip already touched my chin and would make awkward lipstick marks unbeknownst to me. The nurse told me not to worry and started the injections. MY LIPS WERE HUGE! They used a new filler called Emervel, but as soon as I was done I could point out flaws. I almost always point out what my eye sees as uneven in hopes of getting the unused filler material injected once again to level things out. But I was told, "don't worry, you can't tell right now, it will go down with swelling." First thing first, when people tell you "NOT TO WORRY", start to worry. I have never had good things happen following those words. Deep down I knew it was going to be problematic. Imagine how upset you would be explaining how the right side of your mouth is shallow and how you want it to be fuller... and then waking up to this!
The left side of my mouth, aka the naturally larger side, doubled in size! [photo's right] And to make matters worse, this nurse had never dealt with dissolving lumps. I was offered more filler for the left side of my mouth, but what good would that do? Knowing my history, I hoped the injection accident would fade away in a span of a couple months, but it didn't. I started passing up photo shoots out of embarrassment, price checking with companies in LA for how much a dissolvent would cost and feeling let down. The price of a regular injection is usually about $600 and now I was being told that THAT would be the price quote to undo the damage. Overall, I saved about $200 using a nurse and an at home office vs a regular doctor and regretting every minute of it. I didn't feel sexier, I didn't look younger, now I just blended in with type of people that take these kind of procedures too far.
While visiting my home back in Edmonton, I remembered a clinic I once went to that I loved and even more recently, had taken care of another friend of mine who went through a similar botched lip job. I walked into Lucere Deramatology & Laser Clinic and spoke with Dr. Zaki Taher, reliving my horrible experience with fillers. Clearly, he could already tell that I had unevenness in my lips. He asked me what I would prefer to do, if I would like to dissolve the lump or if I wanted to try to fill the opposing side - and since I've already put money into having this pout, I went with the harder of the two choices and had him fill out the rest. Something about being back in a clinic AND with a dermatologist put me more at ease. Dr. T answered all my beauty related questions, and I had a lot of them. I wanted to know every procedure, how common botox was and what age to start, what it would take to remove my freckles, basically what all I needed to do and he had this soft smile on his face and replied with, "nothing, you are a beautiful woman." I wasn't sitting down with a salesman trying to profit off my insecurities, thank god. And trust me, I was pretty adamant about wanting to remove these freckles photographers so often seem to photoshop out. Not for the aesthetic of it, but because I've always seen them as sun damage - but I was liking what I was hearing. He said they give me that sun-kissed Cali vibe. Instead Dr. Taher offered a few touch ups that he didn't think I necessarily needed, but knew I would like after having our consult. I told him I loved my cheekbones, I liked having the angles in my face and had fear of looking overly done. His assistants came into the room and never knowing what's appropriate to be filmed now-a-days I asked if I could show the procedure live. I feared sharing the experience could result in negative backlash but thought if the good outweighed the bad, then why not. Thus, the filler experiement! If people were interested in this type of treatment, then I could provide them with a doctors name I trust, I could warn about the possibilities of cutting corners, I could provide a visual of what's to be expected and the pain I endured, or lack-there-of, and I could bring awareness of how commonplace these types of procedures are becoming. My lip filler appointments use to be a birthday present to myself, but I figured diving deeper into the experience and trying new things could make for a fun activity viewers may get a kick out of.
After posting the video my inbox was filled with questions of what I had done, what type of filler, and wanting to know how I looked and felt afterwards. So I can start with saying I had a filler called Princess. I liked it, it didn't seem to feel very different in comparisons to others, and furthermore I wasn't left with any new bumps or hard spots. Rumor has it, it is a more flowable material and after a few days my lips felt back to normal in terms of softness. The recovery for lips is relatively quick, and in MY instance -the whole face recovered quickly too. I didn't have bruising, I am not a crazy bleeder, and my lips lost their swelling by day 3. Dr. T kept most of the product to my top lip or the corners of the bottom lip. The second addition we did was add a little filler to my eyebrows because I'm lazy and no longer wanted to strain my muscles during shooting and lift them on my own. The 3rd filler placed was at the corners of my nose, I think the purpose was to create more fullness but what I later let everyone know was that it changed my breathing for the better and felt like my sinus's were open. I think my favorite part of the
appointment was a check filler that I would have never known anything about. I could hear a noise that reminded me of cereal popping away in milk - the collagen underneath my skin letting me know I'm still young and vibrant. Then we did a Pearl-lift to tighten everything up via fillers and moved on to the botchuisim. I received Botox in between the eyebrows and then along a few lines on the forehead. My girlfriend, and also the camera lady had suggested trying the doh-eyed look and since cameras were rolling, I figured let's include it. I didn't want to include prices because botox is charged per units and filler is charged per syringe, but after watching the video I would guesstimate two syringes were used before the botox applications. [The image below is taken 2 weeks after treatment. They are unedited, raw selfies.]
I was ecstatic with my results and to feel more symmetrically once again! Extremrely long story short, check you references! Make sure you are using a doctor who is qualified to undo any mistake and has your best interest at heart. If you feel they are rushing you, not listening to you, or not going to help you achieve the best version of yourself - why chance it? Avoid the botox parties, although I have never been to one - something tell me those would be an equally bad idea to my at-home-by-nurse lip injections. If you have a bad experience, share it to prevent from happening to others and if you have a good experience don't keep it secrete and spread the wealth. Don't be ashamed to admit you had something worked on, exercise having a healthy appreciation for any and all types of beauty. Honesty is the most beautiful trait incredibly lacking in today's society. Just trying to be a MODEL citizen ;) !
End of experiment - thanks to the staff @ www.lucereskin.com for making me feel like myself once again. JB