I clenched the piece of gauze in my hand. Dr. Verano said I might want to use it later to wipe the numbing cream from my lips. Instead I pinched it, shredded it, clenched it to try to distract myself from the tiny injections that Dr. Verano was making around my mouth. I decided the numbing cream was a placebo. I felt every needle prick and I felt the burning sensation as the Restylyn seeped below my skin.
“Think of it as putting a plump pillow in a wrinkled pillow case.” That’s how he had explained the process. But pillow cases feel no pain. He finished the right side of my mouth and handed me a mirror. I clenched the mirror in my hand as I looked at the angry red line that ran from my right nostril around the corner of my mouth. Dr. Verano looked at me expectantly. Was he waiting for me to exclaim at the improvement? I tried to smile. It hurt. He didn’t notice. He took the mirror out of my clenched fist, handed me another piece of gauze and attacked the left side of my mouth with the same effect.
“Now I am going to do your upper lip. This might hurt. The lip has more nerve endings that any part of the body.”
Was he kidding? I swallowed hard. “I guess that’s why kissing is so pleasant” I quipped. I could have been funnier if I hadn’t been panicking. “Can I have another piece of gauze, please?”
I handed him the piece I had been clenching. I still hadn’t wiped my lips. That would come later I guessed. He handed me another piece of gauze. I clenched it in my hand and he went to work on my upper lip. When he was done he handed me that damned mirror again. I looked like Meg Ryan after lip augmentation and a confrontation with a hive of angry bees.
“The swelling will go down in a few hours” he said taking the mirror away.
I hesitantly touched my lips with the piece of gauze, wiping away the last traces of the numbing cream. I reached out for the mirror again and tried to look beyond the puffiness and the redness and the needle marks. Sure enough. My nasal labial lines were all gone as were those tiny lines that always made my lipstick run. I was officially a member of the “post 50 who says we can’t be young forever crowd”. I paid him – racking up a 1000 United Miles in the process and checked my watch. I had 30 minutes before I was supposed to meet John. I stopped at the Starbucks and bought a soy chai latte then realized my lips were too sore to drink it. I tried using a straw and then gave up and just sat at the table and waited until it was time to meet John. He was terrific. Offered to buy me a milkshake and a necklace, agreed that the nasal labial lines were definitely gone and assured me that yes – I had done the right thing.