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TikTok's DIY lip filler trend is downright dangerous

While the past year has been objectively terrible, it’s also served us some prime Internet content. (Nathan Apodaca vibing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” definitely ranks in my top three.) I see this fruitfulness as a sign of people turning to creativity in a time of boredom and stress, and I’m 100% here for it. But not all creative ideas are good, and one of the latest to hit TikTok — DIY lip fillers — is really, really bad. In fact, experts warn that it’s extremely dangerous.

A recap, for those unfamiliar with the trend: Videos have surfaced on TikTok and YouTube of women injecting their lips with a Hyaluron pen, a device originally intended for pain-free insulin injection, using air pressure instead of a needle, Insider explains. In these tutorial-style videos, they walk viewers through how to use the pen and choose the optimal filler.

“Everything feels really good,” Baby Em said toward the end of a YouTube video of her filling her own lips. “It really didn’t hurt.” TikToker tuneuh expressed delight when she injected herself with filler for the first time. "Yo, that did something," she said as she inspected her lips in a mirror. But the trend isn't as harmless as it might seem — far from it, actually.

Dermatologist Debra Jaliman did not mince words in her comments to Insider. “This is really one of the worst things I’ve seen,” she said. She noted that hyaluronic acid, the dermal filler used in the videos, can lead to all kinds of scary side effects, including lumps, swelling, and even blindness.

According to Insider, anyone can buy a Hyaluron pen and fillers on Amazon — which sounds shady, because it is. A product advertised as filler might be something else entirely, Jaliman pointed out. The influencers in the videos aren’t demonstrating proper sterilizing techniques either, she said, which can create the perfect environment for a severe infection.

I’m all for resourcefulness, but this is a procedure that absolutely requires a trained medical professional. It involves consulting with a clinician about where to inject the filler, Insider reports, as well as the technique and type of filler. During the procedure, the clinician steers clear of blood vessels and other vulnerable areas. They then advise the patient to keep an eye out for side effects, like bruising, and follow up with them up to two weeks afterward in some cases.

TikTokers have caught heat for dishing bad advice, from starting an S corp to avoid paying taxes to filing your teeth so you can be fit for veneers. Injecting yourself with filler falls into the category of “bad advice.” Please, don’t try this at home.