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Beauty Roadtest: Dermal Fillers

Amanda Whitley

“Filler isn’t something reserved for those who want beestung lips. It’s for people – like me – who don’t realise that subtle treatment can address things that have always bothered you.”.

“You’re like the HerCanberra guinea pig,” says Leanne Monte as I walk into her treatment room. Yep, pretty much. Over the last five years, I’ve tried everything from colonic irrigation to laser hair removal in the name of reportage.

Today it’s dermal fillers, and I think this is probably the most apprehensive I’ve felt about a road test. Why? Well, I guess when I think fillers I think of the dreaded ‘trout pout’ – the over-inflated Kylie Jenner-esque lips that seem to be everywhere these days. That’s not really my scene.

Before we get into what happens, let’s talk about fillers. The substance that Leanne uses is a smooth injectable gel made from a natural complex sugar called hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is normally found in human skin and assists with hydration and also combines with collagen and elastin to help provide structure and elasticity.

Basically, they’re introduced through a small injection, with the procedure taking 15-30 minutes depending on how much you’re getting, and you can see the results straight away.

I’ve had a couple of chats with Leanne prior to today’s treatment so I’m feeling as comfortable as I can be with the procedure. I’m already sold on the ‘tear troughs’ treatment, which is used to reduce the look of dark circles (more on that later) but I’m still a little tentative about getting my lips ‘done’. They’re small (Leanne calls them ‘Geisha-like’, well shaped but narrow) and I’d like them to be fuller, but I’m nervous about taking the leap.

So we talk some more, and she tells me that what she’d like to do is inject just a little filler into the outer left and right of my upper and lower lips. This will serve to lift the corners out, making my lips look wider and also creating a slight upwards tilt to my naturally downcast lips.

“If I don’t like them, can you…er…deflate them again?” I ask. Leanne assures me that the procedure IS completely reversible, but stresses that she’s only ever once (in her 10-year career) had such a request. “I’m not in the business of plumping lips so much that my client wants the filler removed,” she says. “I prefer to go in gently and slowly so that my client feels completely comfortable.”

“Will it hurt?” (C’mon, no one likes the idea of having needles in their face). She tells me that I might feel a little sting with the first injection, but that the fillers contain lidocaine, which anaesthetises the site for the remaining filler.

I take a deep brief and jump in, lips and all.

Me, pre-treatment and sans makeup. Dark Circle Game, strong.

Me, pre-treatment and sans makeup. Dark Circle Game, strong.


First up, though, it’s the tear troughs – the little hollows under your eyes where dark circles can appear. I have always had dark circles – even when I’m fully rested (it’s a genetic thing, plus my eyes are slightly protruding so some shadow is natural) and I’ve even given up bothering with concealer on an everyday basis because it’s just fighting a losing battle! So when Leanne tells me that by injecting filler into the tear trough it lifts the delicate skin away from the bone, reducing the ‘shadowed’ effect, I’m immediately keen to try it.

I sit on the treatment chair (more like a reclining throne) and hold an icy baton against the undereye area to deaden the sensation. Leanne then asks me to open and close my eyes a couple of times so she can ensure she has the injection location spot on before she makes the first move. The first needle does sting a little bit but it’s not painful…thanks to the lidocaine, I don’t feel any of the subsequent injections. When both sides are done, Leanne hands me a mirror – the difference is quite marked straight away! She does a little more ‘tinkering’ to ensure she’s happy (and I’m happy) and then we move onto my lips.

These injections are a little more invasive (only because Leanne has to put her finger inside my lip and also massage them between her fingertips once the filler is injected. This area is a little more sensitive, but the needles still aren’t more than a couple of seconds of discomfort.

The day after treatment: some slight bruising at the injection points on my left side, plumper lips and noticeably lighter under sye circles.

The day after treatment: some slight bruising at the injection points on my left side, plumper lips and noticeably lighter under eye area.

A tiny bruise forms at the edge of my lower left lip, and people tell me I have chocolate on my mouth for a couple of days, but it’s easily covered with concealer and lippy. My lips feel a little tender for the next week and a little lumpy where the filler has been injected.

For the next few days, until they settle into the shape they’ll eventually become, my new lips feel and look a little unfamiliar. Not because they’re overly big (they’re not – probably only I can notice that they’re different, so subtle are the changes), but because I’ve had 43 years with my ‘normal’ lips and these just aren’t them. It feels somewhat alien putting lipstick on because there’s MORE lip.

At my review consultation, Leanne tells me this is normal – it just takes a little time to get used to how your face looks when one feature is no longer how it used to be. One week on, the bruising and swelling has subsided and I’ve become accustomed to my new lips…and I really like them. My face seems somehow more balanced.

Leanne, ever the perfectionist, reckons my left tear trough could benefit from a little more filler, so I hop back in the chair for an extra squirt. She’s satisfied with this adjustment but tells me to give her a call if I don’t absolutely love the result.


The after: yes, I’m wearing makeup, but you can see the subtle difference in my lips…AND I’M NOT WEARING CONCEALER!!!

For me, the biggest learning has been that filler isn’t something reserved for those who want beestung lips. It’s for people – like me – who don’t realise that subtle treatment can address things that have always bothered you; like dark circles or smallish lips.

At the end of the day, I think it comes to trust. I talked everything through with Leanne at length before the procedure…she didn’t say ‘just let me loose the first time and see what you think’; she listened, she gave me advice, she reassured me, and did a really lovely job that I was comfortable and happy with. If you’ve ever been curious, a consultation might be well worth your while.

Book your free consultation with Leanne at leannemonte.com.au

This is a sponsored post but opinions are the author’s own. It complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online ReviewsRead our Sponsored Post Policy if you would like more information. The author received her treatments free of charge from Leanne Monte.

Slider image of woman’s plump lips from shutterstock.com.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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