Dermal Fillers: Your Quick Cheat Sheet
Who doesn’t want the plump, radiant look of healthy skin and youthful facial features? We sure do! But, often, the means to get to that goal (beyond active skincare, which is obviously crucial) can seem pretty invasive— risky, even. Fillers, though, are a completely different story: the promise of a rejuvenated, smooth, enhanced facial look, but without actual surgery (with all its dangers), and without the forever commitment!
So, what are fillers? As your skin ages, production of the nutrients it needs to stay elastic and full (mainly collagen and hyaluronic acid) sinks dramatically. Dermal fillers, aka facial fillers, are injections that are placed into the middle layers of your complexion. They deposit a substance in the space left by sagging skin, lines and wrinkles. The goal is to create a bright, restored look that makes you look vibrant, youthful, and healthy!
Fillers vs. Botox
So, how are they different? Here’s the deal: botox (botulinum toxin) isn’t about replenishing your skin’s native reserves of anti-ageing substances, nor about filling at all. Instead, botox interrupts the process of neurons in the facial muscles, meaning that they relax and that the skin over them is visibly relaxed. This effect lasts 3 to 4 months.
Dermal fillers do not incapacitate your muscles in any way: they provide the nutrients necessary to actually make your skin younger, fill space for increased plumpness, and (in some cases) stimulate your skin’s long-term production of these nutrients.
Types Of Fillers: How do they work?
Not all dermal fillers are made equal: they can have different ways of action as well as materials.
- Instant plumping: Injections that work by, quite literally, filling the empty spaces where fat, muscle, or skin cells were lost. You leave the appointment with an already-plumped look! Here you’ll find big names like hyaluronic acid fillers and collagen injections (which are naturally made by the skin), as well as synthetic versions.
- Stimulators: These are like the worker that presses buttons at the skin factory— they make your skin produce its very own hyaluronic acid and collagen to fill the spaces. Results don’t show at once, but, over time, you get natural, long-lasting rejuvenation.
- Grafting: A more involved surgical procedure, grafting involves taking fat from another area of the body (via liposuction) and inserted beneath the facial skin. The results look very natural, but you also need more time for recovery.
How long do facial fillers last?
Again, it depends on which one! Hyaluronic Acid fillers, as well as collagen ones work instantly, but, because they are natural, they’re progressively absorbed into your skin. They typically last from 4 to 10 months.
- Synthetic fillers work in the same way but, because the skin can’t easily absorb them, last longer: 6 months to a year.
- Stimulator fillers (like those containing Poly-L-lactic acid, such as Sculptra) are slower to show results but also last much longer— up to 5 years, in some cases.
- What about fat grafting? Some of the material will be reabsorbed by your body in the first months or so, but the remaining fat stays for the (very) long term. These longer-term fillers tend to have more side effects. For example, they can produce a more long-lasting inflammatory reaction, nodule formation and implant migration (in the case of silicone). Collagen is also related to increased bruising and swelling.
Of course, all this varies according to how many syringes you use, what your skin type is, and how well you care for it!
Which is the best facial filler? Of course, you want to make sure you achieve the best possible look. So, which is the best wrinkle filler you can get? What’s top of the pyramid? Arguably, the best facial filler material, and the best filler for lips, is Hyaluronic Acid. It is mostly safe and has less side effects than other fillers, and it can be processed by the body easily. Your top options are Juvederm and Restylane, both of which come in different densities to achieve more or less dramatic results. Both of these products are universally recommended by doctors, like Milojevic, Experts at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery agree that Calcium Hydroxylapatite fillers (like Radiesse), are the best option to smooth out deep wrinkles, because they have a thicker texture.
Fillers in perspective – There’s no one-off, total solution to keeping your skin looking and feeling amazing. The health of your complexion is just one part of a holistic balance that involves the whole of your lifestyle habits and health. If you want to get the best possible results— meaning a true, long-lasting effect— out of your dermal fillers, you need to complement it with restorative and active skin care. Include targeted, medical-grade anti-ageing products that contain cutting-edge botanical extracts (like AHAs and Retinoids). Make sure to ask your doctor which products won’t harm your fillers. Your strategy is best when global: eat healthy— we often forget the power of an antioxidant- and vitamin-rich diet in anti-ageing—, exercise often, and practice mind-and-body connection such as yoga and meditation. This way, not only your skin will feel rejuvenated, but you’ll feel holistically empowered: both inside and out!
Reality check: Possible side effects of fillers
Don’t forget it: though it’s minimally invasive, getting dermal fillers is still a medical procedure, which means: there are some risks involved, and it should only be performed by certified medical professionals.
According to Lowe, Maxwell, and Patnaik, some possible side effects are:
- Light bleeding in the first couple of days.
- Redness and swelling
- A rash
These are pretty common, but they shouldn’t last long: only through the first two weeks. Then you’re all clear!
Keep in mind, though: longer-term dermal fillers— usually the synthetic ones, like Bellafill— are more prone to complications than the ones that get naturally absorbed. These can include infection and nodules (little-swollen lumps under the skin).
Though rare, more serious side effects are possible: poorly applied fillers can cause infection, leaking from the injection site, nodules or granulomas (inflamed lumps that need surgery), or fillers that move around. If the fillers are injected in the wrong area (or by someone who isn’t a trained professional), it can lead to blindness, blood vessel injury, or even the death of facial tissue.
Things to keep in mind….
Make sure you are 100% informed before going through with dermal fillers. This means knowing what material the injections are, making sure it’s TGA approved, and asking your doctor to show you their medical credentials and proof of training in the area.
Make sure you plan your procedure well: it’s important to follow strict instructions for post care, avoiding physical activity and any other cosmetic procedures, avoiding touching the face, applying make-up, flying, excess heat and stimulation to the face and make sure you get some rest. Follow your doctor’s care instructions to the letter.
- Check the ARTG register (if you’re in Australia) or your national equivalent to make sure the product is approved for use.
- Ask your doctor for references and credentials.
- Inform your doctor if you suffer from long-standing conditions (such as eczema or cold sores), as the needle puncture can trigger an outbreak.
- Go to your appointment with a clean, makeup-free complexion
- During the week before your fillers, avoid taking blood thinning medications (like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Aleve), as well as supplements (like gingko, garlic, Vitamin E and others).
- During the 2 days before your fillers, avoid topical Retinoids, Glycolic Acid, Tretinoin and anti-ageing skincare.
- Also avoid any sort of hair removal from the area for two days prior.
- Do not take alcohol, sunbathe, or exercise within 10 hours before and after your treatment.
- After your treatment, avoid picking at the skin. Instead, apply ice or products like Arnica (recommended by Drs. Weiler and Dougherty).
Keep reading our Part Two dermal filler series to find out more 💋