The first time I got lip fillers, it was in the height of the post Kylie Jenner era, when the makeup mogul was renowned for capitalising on her penchant for an aesthetician's assistance.
For most of us mere mortals who have sought the assistance of the aestheticians needle, it's about creating an adjustment that makes you look (in your mind) better, rather than turning you into a celebrity Doppelganger.
While the Kardashians may have catapulted fillers into the lime light, people have been utilising them for decades to make tweaks to their faces, bringing them more in line with what humans scientifically consider ideal beauty – which all comes down to youth and symmetry.
With the popularity of injectables remaining high, despite the 'Kylie Jenner effect' losing it's power over the beauty standards of the nation, it's essential that the women (and men) of Ireland who seek to boost their pouts have a same and specialised environment in which to do so.
Late last year, Thérapie Clinic launched a brand new, city centre clinic that exclusively offers injectable treatments – while their other clinics also offer hair removal and skin procedures, the newly opened South William Street Clinic has a strict focus on creating facial perfection through injectables like botox.
Having an unashamed fondness for filler myself, I decided that for my next treatment under the needle, I would scope out Thérapie's new offering
As well as injectable treatments, skincare puritans can snap up at-home products from Environ, Murad and Image – and on arrival at the new clinic, you're instantly greeted by a glossy wall unit showcasing the best that Irish skincare has to offer.
Guided through to the waiting room after checking in at the podium desk, where I was greeted by an exceptionally friendly woman who had an impressive amount of positive energy for 6pm in the evening, the decor was stylishly bright and minimalist.
While waiting, I helped myself to the cucumber infused water-pitcher on the table, before I was quickly whisked away to one of the consultation rooms. If you have had fillers before, you will be well versed in the form-reading and box ticking portion of the event, but in case you're not: As lip fillers require medically trained application, there are a few health and lifestyle forms to fill out, as well as a general form for the clinic's records. You will be asked to write down your expectations of results, whether you are pregnant and what injectables you have had previously, as well as a selection of other questions. If you're a first timer, don't worry, at Thérapie one of the gorge gals who keep things running is on hand to answer any queries you have about the forms in a private consultation room.
After the forms, I was escorted into the procedure room, where I was greeted by Dr Rua, who's glowing-from-within complexion is probably the best advertisement I've ever seen for good quality skincare.
We chatted about what kind of look I wanted to achieve, before she discussed what would be realistic for my face. Her goal is for each of her patients to leave looking fresh and lifted, rather than over-done or with lips or cheeks that are detectably 'filled.'
We settled on a full ml of Juvaderm filler – some patients have unrealistic expectations with the amounts of filler that can be used. A reputable aesthetician will use no more than 1-2mls maximum in the lips at one time, depending on the person. More than that, and it's impossible for even the expert administrator to predict what the final look will be.
Fillers and botox should only ever be administered by a registered dentist, doctor or nurse – and unskilled hand delivering injectables can cause havoc by hitting one of the tiny veins or arteries in the massive network or vessels which reside in the lips and face. With fillers like Juvaderm available to purchase on the internet, it' vital to make sure the technician you are seeing is registered and had a medical background.
I've previously had 1 and half mls of Restylane filler in my lips (1ml injected first, then another half months later) so Dr Rua first needed to assess where that product sat in my lips before deciding where she would be sculpting and adding volume.
One week after the procedure – still very swollen but healed
The numbing cream had been applied in the consultation room, and once I was comfortably lying back in the chair, she set to work. I find fillers quite painful, but Dr Rua was exceptionally gentle, and chatted to me throughout, making the entire process go by much faster. I have asymmetry in my lips, with one side of my top lip being thinner than the other side – a feature I've covered up with lip liner for many years, and Dr Rua aimed to correct that asymmetry as well as making the lips bigger.
As soon as we were done, I was handed the mirror to take a peek at my improved lips – and I was honestly floored at the results. Through the slight redness and swelling, I could instantly see that there was a subtle but perfectly executed difference in my lips. They were balanced and pouty without being bee-stung.
Costing between €200 and €300, lip fillers are definitely costly, but worth it in my books.
Before any lip fillers
I was given plenty of aftercare instructions, and was warned that there was a chance of further swelling and bruising. I also had picked up the IMAGE Skincare Ormedic Balancing Lip Complex, which helps after lip fillers to replenish moisture and enhance the results.
I slept slightly elevated that night, as I experienced some serious swelling int he hours after my procedure, with the side of my lip we had focused more heavily on to correct the asymmetry becoming more swollen as a response.
In the aftermath, it took about two weeks for my lips to fully settle, which is to be expected, and once the asymmetrical swelling had subdued, revealed underneath was a pair of perfectly balanced and strikingly full lips (if I may say so myself).
I opted in for a follow-up appointment with Dr Rua a few weeks later, and after an examination, she couldn't have been happier with the results (same, gal).
Discussing the beauty standards that has led so many women to going under the needle, Dr Rua explained that many women think they need far more work done than they really do: 'When you ask a girl to rate her facial beauty, she will always say a 5 or a 6.'
However, when you really look at someone's face, they may only want for one tiny tweak here or a small lift there, so they're actually coming into the clinic an 8, and leave looking and feeling like what a 10 means to them.
As beauty is subjective and not everyone prescribes to the same standards or aesthetic 'look,' the goal at Thérapie Clinic is not to create a sea of homogenous 'Instagram-perfect' faces, but to improve and hone the natural beauty everyone already has – which is why I'm already scheduled back in for a top up.