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Getting Fillers & Botox in Japan

Considering a venture into plastic/cosmetic surgery in Japan? Make sure you've done your research and really reflect on your motivations.

Cosmetic and surgical procedures draw stark opinions from those in support or oppose. Beforechoosing to undergo a procedure one needs to really reflect on their motivators and understand the risks involved.

With age, I've become more secure in my appearances. I like my features and body shape and am comfortable with how I look. But there have always been little things I wanted to change. Not wanting to jump into anything drastic, I spend a considerable amount of time doing research, reading and watching other people's stories, and making sure I know what I was getting myself into.

When I lived in Canada, I used lip filler to achieve a fuller lip. My lips are a feature I always liked overall, so without changing the natural shape, I usually go for about 1CC of Juvederm about once a year.

When I moved to Japan I put off getting my lips done for a long time. I wasn't familiar with any clinics, couldn't speak the language and just didn't know anything about getting cosmetic procedures in the country. For about a year I researched local clinics, pricing, doctor reviews, and the general flow. After settling into my new life I decided to give it another go.

In the year 2020 about 273,821 Injectable Procedures took place in Japan; 75% of which were Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injections

Fillers and injections are far less common in Japan than in the West, but most beauty clinics do offer variations with different brands available.

The Flow

Once I selected a clinic with fairly good reviews I made my appointment online. Not being fluent, especially not with medical terms, I brought along a native Japanese speaker to help with any details I didn't understand.

Showing up to the clinic I filled out the intake papers in the waiting room. The room itself was full of (mostly) women of every age. When my name was called we went to a small room for the consultation; I explained what I wanted and the results I wanted to achieve, along with the amount and brand. I had decided on my usual 1CC for the lips, along with my first foray into BOTOX and filler for nasolabial folds, using the doctors' recommendations for the amounts to use.

The one area I was really interested in was getting BOTOX injections along my jaw. After doing some reading I found that it can actually be used to relieve muscle stiffness. I have a lot of jaw pain, and when explaining this to the doctor, they recommended some injection sites that could help ease up the muscles and relieve some of that pain. For the nasolabial folds I didn't want to completely erase my smile lines, rather just make them a little less deep.

Within 20 minutes a plan had been made and my total calculated; I paid the fee, waited a bit longer, and then was taken to the procedure room. It was (shockingly) fast, even with the communication barrier and I was in and out within an hour.

The lips were the most painful of all the injections. If you've had lip injections before than you know the feel; aside from lips generally just being a sensitive area, the needles are longer and thicker than needles used for other injections. This is because of the filler itself, as well as the depth the needle needs to reach. That part is fine.

What I wasn't expecting is that they don't use any numbing cream.

Instead, I was passed some ice in a towel and instructed to hold it to my lip until it felt numb. Excuse me, what?

So after I held some ice to my lips for some time, they did the lip injections. My review on that: Ice is not a great numbing agent. But after checking the norms in Japan (once I got home and on my phone), it turns out that using ice is a thing... so, there's that.

The botox and nasolabial filler was relatively painless in comparison to the lips. The Botox needles are much smaller and barely left a mark. The nasolabial filler needles were a bit bigger, but the area much less e sensitive. I've never had that area filled before so it was a very strange sensation.

In reflection, the biggest downside of not being able to directly communicate with your doctor, in combination with how quickly Japanese doctors just do things once the procedure starts, is that it can be difficult to stop the flow to ask questions or get clarification. On top of doing your research on the clinic/doctors you're planning to visit, also have a confident interpreter that can be vocal on your behalf.

Once everything was done I was taken to the after area, where you're given an individual station to touch up your hair and makeup, given some after care instructions (in Japanese) and sent on my way.

The Price

Depending on the doctor you visit and how much you want done, prices will vary.

Example of some of the injectable procedure costs that I've used:

  • Botox for 1 facial area: ¥3,500 per area (such as for crows feet, under the eyes, jaw upper or lower forehead)

  • Juvederm Vista ULTRA for lips: ¥80,000+ (distributed between the top and bottom lip)

Note that the price is per unit of the injectable used, not the total. Your doctor will make a recommendation on how much filler/Botox you should use; if you choose too little, there may not be any results. Too much and you'll be eering on the side of unnaturally stiff. Overall, for what I wanted I paid about $1,500 (US). The Juvederm was the majority of that cost, with the Botox for my jawline being the second most expensive.

The Results

Within a few days, the initial swelling had subsided and I was able to get a look at the end results. My bottom lip was even, but my top lip had a few minor issues, which if you're familiar with injections, is not something uncommon. I love my deep cupid's bow and prefer my filler not to change that shape; the doctor didn't fill out the middle of my cupid's bow (like I had asked), but I wasn't too jazzed about the amount of filler concentrated on either side. Working with the same doctor over the years, we've since been able to get the balance much better.

The filler along my nasolabial folds (smile lines), was great. It looked natural and achieved what I was going for. I smile a lot, and the filler made it so my makeup wasn't caking in my smile lines as often as it had previously.

As for the BOTOX, I was elated with the results. I had injections around my outer eye (crow's feet) and my jaw. The effects around my eyes were ok, but it was the jaw that I loved. The effect on my jaw pain was almost immediate, and while I loved how everything else looked, the feeling of tension relief was by far the highlight of the experience.

Overall, I've been happy with my experiences getting fillers in Japan and was quite lucky to have found a clinic and doctors that are great at what they do (even if they do use ice to numb your lips).

Things to note if you're getting injections or cosmetic procedures in Japan:

  • Not all doctors can speak English, and (for good reason) some clinics require foreign/non-Japanese speakers to bring an interpreter. This is for your safety as well as for liability issues.

  • Bedside manner in Japan is different. If you've been to a clinic or hospital in Japan, you've likely experienced their cultural difference firsthand. You may feel rushed to make a decision you're not sure of, but don't feel pressured to make a choice if you're having doubts.

  • Juvederm and its variations are more expensive in Japan than in the U.S and Canada. I've used other filler brands since coming to Japan (which were much cheaper), but found that Juvaderm looked fuller for longer. For comparison, my Juvaderm fillers lasted nearly a year, while other brands usually lasted 6 months.

  • Clear, white skin is a beauty standard in Japan, so if you have natural freckles (like I do), your doctor may make a few suggestions on how to lighten them. I happen to like my freckles, so I politely decline (every time).

  • Do your research. Not all clinics or doctors have good reviews. Don't choose a clinic based on price alone. You want to make sure you're in good hands.

  • Have informed and realistic expectations for what your results will look like. More often than not your final results won't be exactly what you imagined, rather, it'll be in the realm of what you wanted. Cosmetic procedures are an art that both depends on your doctor as well as your body. It's hard to know how your body will adapt to injections, or what's going on under the surface of your skin.

  • Know what you're injecting into your body and be informed of all the risks before going in for your procedure (especially if you're not fluent in Japanese).


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