I discreetly slip off bustling South William Street in the heart of Dublin’s creative quarter, up a flight of stairs, and into a waiting room where a row of glamourous women flick through glossy magazines.
I’m here to visit Kerry Hanaphy, a.k.a The Lip Queen, at her clinic tucked away on the third floor of 27 South William Street.
Though unlike the thousands of girls, and a growing number of guys, who visit Kerry’s clinic I am not here to have my lips enhanced to Rosie Huntington Whiteley-esque proportions, but instead for a psuedo-consultation, to ask the questions you always wanted to know about the beauty treatment that’s on everyone’s lips.
After working in London, Kerry was of the first to offer lip fillers in Ireland. She began offering the service as an extra income to supplement her work as a respiratory and chemotherapy nurse, and says at the start she was lucky if she had one or two per month.
Over the years, as her reputation grew so did her client base, and she soon reached the point where the demand necessitated that she take on the job full-time, and last year she opened her own clinic on South William Street.
Trusted for her impeccable results, decades of expertise, and level of qualification, Kerry has attended a further six courses this year alone, the registered nurse is regarded as the best in the business, and people come from far and wide for her five-star service, or at least to join her waiting list.
The lip filler market is not the only one that Kerry and her team plan on dominating. The clinic is expanding in the New Year and will be offering a host of new services, including the celeb favourite intravenous infusion.
Read on for everything you’ll need to know before, during and after lip augmentation treatments. Think of this as visiting Kerry’s clinic for a consultation without ever having to leave your desk.
What are ‘lip fillers’?
People call them lip fillers, dermal fillers or lip augmentation, and basically it is injecting Hyaluronic Acid (HA) into the lips.
What products are used?
Pure Hyaluronic is what should be used, but there are other products on the market and this is where the problems with lip fillers arise.
Not all fillers are the same. HA comes in very varied forms from manufacturers. You have your high-end HA, and your lower end varieties. The molecule breaks down very differently across the quality scale.
The higher end brands include Allergen, Galderma, Merz, Teosyal. The exact products that most people hear of are Juvaderm by Allergan and Galderma’s Restylane.
These are the types of hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers that we use. I mix and match between the two, because not every client needs the same products or technique.
How is the lip filler market changing?
Unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of bad fillers, due to bad technique and the use of bad quality product.
One issue with lip fillers is that not every practitioner has the eye for symmetry, or the skill needed to slowly insert the syringe – it’s not a simple procedure.
Some people are starting to compare getting lip fillers to getting your eyebrows done. We need to change this rhetoric as the procedure shouldn’t be taken as lightly as that and we can’t let it go down that route, as it has in the UK.
The whole reason I developed my clients was to help people look aesthetically better, not to cater to a fashion trend, or to provide suction pumps. We want to help people look and feel better and to do so in a clinically safe manner.
“Some people are starting to compare getting lip fillers to getting your eyebrows done. We need to change this rhetoric as the procedure shouldn’t be taken as lightly as that.”
The other issue is that people are choosing ‘cheap’ fillers. Initially they might love them, because they have swelling and volumisation on the day they get them, but as it starts to degrade they are left with bumps. These are like little balls of grit in the lips, because the substance isn’t dissolving.
Are all people that offer lip fillers trained in the same way?
As it is an unregulated market, there are lots of untrained people out there offering the service.
People who are unscrupulous for money will set up clinics in their homes and order product from China or South Korea, and you don’t know what’s in them. That’s where the under-age lip filler market is starting to creep into Ireland.
As there are no laws there is nothing stopping you buying the product online and injecting it yourself – and people are doing that.
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Our clinic is purely medical, everyone who works there is either a registered nurse, a medical doctor or a dental surgeon. As such, we don’t treat anyone under 18, but we’ve had people come to the clinic and they have been having their lips done for two years prior to that elsewhere.
I am also qualified as a Galderma mentor, training nurses, doctors and dentists. There has also been an increase in this level of training which is promising in an unregulated market.
Are you finding you are having to fix more and more ‘bad’ fillers?
No one really wants to treat someone else’s bad work, for insurance purposes. We can either send them elsewhere, or our doctors can prescribe a dissolver, but as a nurse all you can do is educate the client to do a lot of massaging rigorously to help break down the product in the lip.
“As it is an unregulated market, there are lots of untrained people out there offering the service.”
All HA is semi-permanent, though some horrible HA can take up to two years to dissolve completely.
Sadly, there are clinics in London now and of the twenty people they see each day, five of those appointments are to fix bad lip jobs. So it is a new market and we are looking into it.
Are lip fillers suitable for everybody?
We don’t provide lip fillers to anyone who is under 18, pregnant, breast-feeding, or have auto-immune problems.
Some lips are more difficult to work on, but if you have the eye, the experience, and understand the symmetry in the face you can always improve a client’s lips.
Tell us about the process?
Consultation and the treatment can be done on the same day. While you fill out medical consent and provide your medical history you apply a numbing cream, prescribed by one of our doctors.
Then, you come into me and we’ll have a full consultation about why you’re here, and what type of look you’re looking to achieve.
We take a picture of your lips and I’ll show you exactly what your lips look like – you might a little scar here, a spot of pigmentation, or a little lump that you didn’t even notice before.
I explain how we plan to enhance the lips and show the products we will use, opening the packs in front of you. This is something you should always insist on no matter who you visit – check the bar codes and the expiry date.
The procedure itself takes about three to four minutes. You’ll feel only a little pinch. People who find it very sore have been elsewhere before visiting me. The cheaper fillers don’t have aesthetic in them, and so it is agony. They come into me and they are traumatised.
Afterwards we take another picture so you can compare the before and after photos.
How much product should be injected?
The general rule is one to a half ml of filler, depending on the lip size and what the client is looking for.
Others want big, dramatic lips instantly, that Kylie Jenner look, and 1ml won’t give you that effect if it’s done correctly.
“The procedure itself takes about three to four minutes. You’ll feel only a little pinch.”
What happens to the girls who have these huge lips is that they have a ml and it’s put in in the wrong position in the lips, so they are are projected very far out, they look like they have shelves on their lips. Then, they come back three weeks later and putting in more product.
What should clients expect post- injection?
The results are instantaneous. You can eat, drink, kiss, and smoke, although it’s something we warn against. No sunbeds for two days, no gym that day, and no makeup for six hours.
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What can go wrong?
Any time that you introduce something intravenous into the body you are putting the body at risk. The difference between us here at the clinic and elsewhere where they are poorly trained is that we are experienced in dealing with a complication.
The general side effects can include a little bit of bruising, swelling or inflammation. We always tell our patients if they are any way anxious to call and send on a picture. My phone is on 24 hours a day, they can always contact me.
“The incidences of blindness are increasing worldwide. There was one case in Bournemouth last week, when a beautician injected an under 17 year old.”
Due to poor quality products and techniques we are also seeing clients experience extreme swelling, bumps in the lips, or blue lines in the lip.
The worst case scenario is that people can go blind, due to a complication called occlusion. Because you are injected a gel you can block a vessel.
I’m trained to spot this and we can dissolve the product immediately. If you aren’t experienced however the blood blockage travels up the face and the patient can go blind.
The incidences of blindness are increasing worldwide. There was one case in Bournemouth last week, when a beautician injected an under 17 year old.
How long should the results last?
One ml of filler should last nine months, but generally after five to six months most people will come back in and have a top up.
It is being done a lot sooner in some places however. There are clinics out there who are doing what the client wants, but not necessarily what is right for the client.
Have you noticed an increase in interest in lip fillers?
I have always been busy doing lips, it always took up all my time. But since we launched our South William clinic in October 2016 I have noticed an increase in client demand.
We’ve increased our client database from 1,000 to 5,000 since then. Instagram has played a big part too. We see about 20 clients a day.
“There are clinics out there who are doing what the client wants, but not necessarily what is right for the client.”
The demand is coming from outside of Ireland too. I get a lot of Irish people living in Australia or London, who are coming home for Christmas, and wait to get their lips done until they can visit out clinic. We have a lady who comes from Vegas twice a year too.
The lip filler market has become very noisy lately, there are a lot of examples of bad lips out there, and so people are taking about it a lot more.
What is the average age of your clients?
The average is a twenty three year old female. We are starting to see a lot of mums and daughters coming in together for a day out too!
How much does it cost?
Half a ml €200. Full ml €300. If you bring a friend €20 off.
Kerry Hanaphy Clinic, 27 South William Street, Dublin 2.