WHAT ARE DERMAL FILLERS?
Dermal fillers, sometimes called soft tissue fillers, are substances designed to be injected beneath the surface of the skin to add volume and fullness.
Substances used in dermal fillers include:
- Calcium hydroxylapatite, which is a mineral-like compound found in bones.
- Hyaluronic acid, which is found in some fluids and tissues in the body that add plumpness to the skin.
- Polyalkylimide, a transparent gel that is compatible with the body.
- Polylactic acid, which stimulates the skin to make more collagen
- Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA), a semi-permanent filler
Each one of these is designed to treat different signs of aging or other cosmetic issues.
The time they take to work, as well as how long they last, also vary. Some fillers last 6 months, while others last up to 2 years or longer.
People should discuss their individual needs and expectations with their doctor to determine what filler would be the best choice for them.
What can dermal fillers correct?
Different types of dermal fillers are designed to treat varying signs of aging. Depending on the filler selected, they may:
- plump up thinning lips
- enhance or fill in shallow areas on the face
- decrease or remove the shadow or wrinkle under the eyes caused by the lower eyelid
- fill in or soften the look of recessed scars
- fill in or soften static wrinkles, especially on the lower face
Static wrinkles include those around the mouth and along the cheeks. These wrinkles are usually a result of a loss of collagen and elasticity in the skin.
Dermal filler risks and considerations
Dermal fillers are considered to be safe but side effects can occur. The most common problems include:
- skin rash, itching, or pimple-like eruptions
- redness, bruising, bleeding, or swelling
- undesirable appearance, such as asymmetry, lumps, or overcorrection of wrinkles
- skin damage that causes a wound, infection, or scarring
- ability to feel the filler substance under the skin
- blindness or other vision problems
- death of skin cells due to loss of blood flow to the area
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOTOX AND FILLERS?
- Botox: This freezes muscles to stop creases and wrinkles caused by facial expressions. These are typically found in the upper face, such as the forehead and around the eyes.
- Dermal fillers: These use hyaluronic acid and similar substances to “fill in” or plump areas that have lost volume and smoothness. This includes wrinkles around the mouth, thin lips, and cheeks that have lost fullness. They may also be used on forehead wrinkles, scars, and other areas that need extra volume for a smoother look.
- Botox results last 3 to 4 months. Dermal filler results vary, depending on which filler is used.
Because Botox and fillers are different substances designed for different uses, they can sometimes be combined in one treatment. For instance, someone may use Botox to correct lines between the eyes and a filler to correct smile lines around the mouth.
What to Expect During Treatment
Dermal filler injections are non-surgical and typically completed during an office visit. Your initial treatment will begin with a consultation, during which you will meet with your cosmetic surgeon to discuss your concerns and goals.
During your consultation, your cosmetic surgeon will evaluate your area of concern and review your medical history. While the risks associated with dermal fillers are minimal, you need to fully disclose your medical history prior to treatment, as certain allergies, skin and neurological conditions, or medications can jeopardize your safety or results. For instance, you need to tell your cosmetic surgeon if you have been taking NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) or blood thinners, as these increase the likelihood of bruising.
Your injectable filler treatment
Just before the actual treatment, the area will be cleaned, and you may be given a topical anesthetic to numb the area prior to injection. Many filler products also contain lidocaine, a mild anesthetic, which is intended to help minimize discomfort during and after your treatment. Your provider will then inject a precise amount of filler strategically beneath the skin.
Depending on the product and the areas treated, you should be able to notice results immediately after receiving filler injections. Some patients experience mild bruising and swelling, but these are temporary and should subside over the days following treatment. You will be able to go back to your normal activities right after treatment, but your cosmetic surgeon may ask you to take the day off from exercise or other strenuous activity.