The Dangers Of Drinking Alcohol After Lip Injections

Photo Credit: ShutterstockHours after getting her lips injected with hyaluronic acid, a British woman by the name of Morgan Proudlock drank alcohol. The next morning, Proudlock woke up with a nice surprise. Her lips were extremely puffy, swollen and larger than she'd ever seen before. Not only were her lips doubled in size, but she was also experiencing intense pain. As the video trended, Haute Beauty got ahold of it and decided to ask Haute Beauty experts about the dangers alcohol plays in the healing process of lip injections. Here's what they had to say:

Dr. Kimberly N. Mascia | Medical Spa | Erie, PA

There are many substances that thin the blood and ideally should be held 48 hours or more prior to and following cosmetic injectables. Heparin, Warfarin, newer anticoagulants such as Xarelto, aspirin products, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like ibuprofen and naproxen are obvious risks. However, my patients are surprised when I ask them to hold multivitamins that often contain Vitamin E or other natural supplements such as turmeric, ginger, cayenne, garlic, ginkgo biloba, grape seed extract, dong quai, and feverfew. While these substances tend to increase bleeding and bruising, swelling is less of a concern. In fact, I will often treat patients who have not held them.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a particular risk because not only does it thin blood, it is a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels). This is likely what caused her severe swelling. Other substances and even activities such as exercise and saunas act as vasodilators and should also be avoided in the peri-injection period. I was relieved to read that her symptoms resolved without any lasting consequences.

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Dr. Laura Purdy | Medical Aesthetics | Nashville

So I have reviewed this video. And from what I can gather, the patient had some injectables done in her lips, did have a couple of drinks that night, and the next morning woke up to see quite a bit of swelling. I am not 100% convinced that this is related to alcohol use. The reason why is because the consideration with alcohol is that alcohol can be blood thinner and can cause bleeding. Rather, it can impair the body‘s ability to clot properly and can result in excessive bleeding or bruising at the site. I have examined this patient‘s lips, and I do not see evidence of extensive bruising. If that was the case, her lips would be dark, just like a bruise.

We see this on other parts of patients' bodies when they have uncontrolled bleeding and it has a very characteristic look. What I see here is certainly swelling and perhaps some inflammation, but I do not see bruising. Therefore, I cannot confidently say that what this patient has experienced is due in any way to alcohol consumption. It could be that she has an allergy to the product that was used or the lidocaine, She could’ve had an inflammatory reaction to anything that was put on the area afterward. For example, did she use Arnica? Was there any sort of topical used afterward to help with healing at all? Was there ice applied afterward? There can be a lot of factors that contribute to swelling, but I do not see evidence of bruising due to blood-thinning due to alcohol in conjunction with lip injections.

Why did alcohol play such a big role in her healing process?

I realize what I’m saying may be controversial, but I don’t see any clear evidence that what is happening with her is directly related to alcohol use. I understand it might be easy to pin the rows on that as a cause, but I don’t see the bruising that I would expect to see in someone who has blood thinning and impaired coagulation due to alcohol consumption. Again, there is certainly inflammation, but I do not see bruising so I cannot draw a clear correlation between alcohol and this patient’s lip appearance shortly after injection.

Would you recommend completely staying away from alcohol prior and after injections?

Yes, I would recommend abstaining from alcohol for 48 hours at least, as well as aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other blood thinners. These substances impair the body’s ability to perform hemostasis, which is the medical word for stopping bleeding. Do you want the injection sites to be able to heal properly, and if we impair the body’s ability to do that, the patient can have a prolonged recovery course.

If this happens to a patient, what should they do? 

Interesting thing is that there is nothing to do. Inflammation, and even bruising - which I do not see present in this patient – just take time to heal. Tylenol can be helpful for pain, ice can be helpful for swelling. But be very careful what you choose to put on a procedure site because the body has all of the mechanisms that it needs to be able to heal after something like this.

For more information, visit Dr. Purdy's website!