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Filled-to-the-brim lips were all the rage. So why are people getting their injectables dissolved?

Getting filler dissolved has become increasingly popular on social media. (Photo: Getty Images/ illustration by Jay Sprogell for Yahoo)
Social media discussion around getting filler dissolved has become increasingly popular. (Photo: Getty Images/ illustration by Jay Sprogell for Yahoo)

Kylie Jenner has set plenty of trends in her time. From blue hair and chokers to matte lipstick and face-snatching contour, Jenner's "King Kylie" era changed the way many young people approached style and beauty throughout the mid-2010s.

But the height of her influence, one could argue, came by way of her filled lips and accompanying pout products.

"Kylie with all her Kylie Lip Kits and the filler, that was the look back then. It was crazy," Jade Mitchell-Clyde, a 24-year-old Los Angeles-based content creator, reflects on for Yahoo Life.

But recently, Mitchell-Clyde and a horde of other former filler fans have been having their injectables — lip and otherwise — removed.

In March, Blac Chyna shared she was removing the filler from her cheeks, jaw and lips. And Kylie herself has taken breaks from her famous filler. (Though she has made it clear she has no regrets regarding her initial decision to have lip injections.}

The #lipfillerdissolved, and #lipfillerremoval hashtags alone have nearly 28 million and 10 million views, respectively, and there was a 57% increase in filler reversals from 2020 to 2021, according to a 2022 trend report by the Aesthetic Society.

According to Dr. Robert Schwarcz, a board-certified plastic surgeon, a societal shift away from the "pillow-face" look has led many to opt for filler removal.

"People start to look overfilled and distorted, and they don't look like themselves anymore," Schwarcz tells Yahoo Life.

But what is filler, for starters? "It's important to differentiate between the two basic cosmetic injectable treatments, which are neurotoxins, like Botox, or filler, which is something that adds volume to the face," explains Schwarcz.

There are several options for filler ingredients, and the type used depends on the area being treated. For lip injections, Schwarcz says hyaluronic acid is the most common injectable, and that it can be "readily dissolved" if desired.

While there have been reports of potential adverse effects when dissolving filler, namely in instances where Hyaluronidase is being used, in most instances, slight pain and swelling are the most common side effects, says Schwarcz, noting, "It's a reaction that can cause local swelling with the body. But it shouldn’t be massive amounts of swelling."

Less is more? Why people are over the over-filled look.

There is no shortage of reasons why people decide to have their filler removed, which refers to the process of injecting a solution that breaks down said filler. One is that it doesn't always stay put: The TikTok #fillermigration hashtag, referring to filler that shifts to unwanted locations, has over 73 million views, and many users who have shared their filler journey online cite it as the reason they decided to have it removed.

"It can migrate really easily. So when I started to get filler [under my eye] I noticed within a couple of days, it was gone," content creator Parmida Robateau, 33, tells Yahoo Life.

"I was like, 'Where did it go?' And it ended up floating to other areas of my face and making me look really puffy and aged." explains Robateau, who began using filler in 2014 with "baby" (a smaller amount of) lip injections to aesthetically match what she felt was the "ideal" look for content creators of that time.

"I was doing YouTube, and just seeing other people that have a similar life to you, you're going to start comparing your looks and stuff when you're younger," says Robateau. But over the years, she says, the filler in her lips began to migrate, and she had all of it dissolved in 2022.

Movement from the original injection site is possible, say experts, though the reality is still largely misunderstood.

"Migration of filler is a little bit of an overused terminology for people that say, 'Hey, I injected it here and now it's up here.' It's filler, it spreads. You're not injecting a piece of cement that stays where it is," explains Schwarcz.

Ginille Brown, a cosmetic nurse practitioner based in Los Angeles, says overfilling could also contribute to the rise in migration discourse online.

"When you're just trying to force product into a space, and doing it way too quickly, and the lip hasn't had time to expand, the [filler] goes above the border of the lip," says Brown. "I have patients who have paper-thin lips, and they want really full lips, and I have to tell them that even if I were to put six syringes of filler in you, your anatomy is not going to allow it."

And since many people began their filler usage at a time when bigger was seen as better, there was endless opportunity to take it "overboard," says Mitchell-Clyde, who started getting plumped up the moment she turned 18.

"It's always so embarrassing when I talk about this, because I was fresh 18," she says, explaining that in addition to her lips, she also had filler injected into her cheeks and chin, although lip filler was the only one she kept up with long-term.

"I was just so in awe of celebrities and influencers, and the only thing I knew they were doing for sure was lips," Mitchell-Clyde says of the then-elusive allure surrounding celebrities and speculation regarding their cosmetic enhancements.

She would get her lips touched up once and twice a year, and was initially just "so happy" to even be getting filler that it took her a while to notice she may have been doing too much too fast, at times getting full syringes on top of her existing filler. Eventually, regret crept in.

"After I got it, I would feel so guilty," she says, noting that the post-injection swelling often left her wondering if this was the time she took it too far. "I would be like 'Is this it? Was this the time that I f***** up my face?'" she recalls.

Now, she's able to be open about the real reason she felt dependent on filler for so long."​​I was insecure. And I was leaning on filler to feel more confident," she says.

Robateau also came to a similar realization regarding her procedures, sharing, "No matter what I did, and how far I took things, I was still not fully happy with the way that I looked, because I was unhappy with myself."

The new filler frontier

In addition to a change in personal perspective regarding self-love, Mitchell-Clyde says that the aesthetic tide has shifted, with a more effortless look now reigning supreme in the beauty world.

"Now It's like, 'How can I look perfect without looking fake?' We all want to look like the most elevated version of ourselves rather than looking overfilled," she says.

After consistent prompting a Los Angeles facility she used for various skin treatments, Mitchell-Clyde decided to have her filler dissolved —a process she documented on TikTok.

"Every time I'd go in to get like micro-needling or something, they would be like, 'You need to dissolve them. You'll look so good.' I think that really made me [get rid of] my attachment," she says.

Once the filler was dissolved, she got facial balancing, a process that involves using injectables on various areas on the face to produce a customized and cohesive finished look.

Robateau, meanwhile, decided to have her lips filled again, but notes she now takes a more reserved approach to the procedure.

"I did go back this year and I did Restylane [a brand of hyaluronic lip filler] with a nurse practitioner that's very conservative and will call me out if it's too much," says Robateau.

What is the dissolving process like?

It's notably more intense than getting the filler put in, says Schwarcz.

"Filler removal is a chemical reaction where an enzyme gets injected into an area. And a chemical reaction takes place where it starts to eat up, or dissolve the acid of the hyaluronic acid filler," he explains.

And it is quite the gnarly process, says Robateau, who explains, "It was just next-level extreme burning, and it was honestly one of the most painful things I've ever gotten done — and I have a pretty high pain tolerance."

She adds, "They also massage the area. It kind of feels like Pop Rocks, like the candy … it's such a weird sensation," not to mention an auditory one.

"It breaks down," says Mitchell-Clyde, "and you can hear the filler crunching."

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