Our bodies naturally change as we age, and those differences might include new wrinkles on our faces, around our mouth, and cheekbones that aren’t as high as they once were. Today’s dermal fillers can help minimize these signs of aging if you’re unhappy with them. These signs of aging are completely normal and occur when we lose some of the subcutaneous fat that supports our skin from underneath. Over time, the skin on the middle of our faces shifts downwards, causing our cheeks to sag a bit. Dermal fillers help replace that lost fat volume, and also, help to smooth out and minimize wrinkles and lines.
1. What exactly are dermal fillers?
First things first: dermal fillers are injectable implants approved by the FDA to help smooth skin and wrinkles. As the name implies, they are injected beneath your skin using a fine needle.
According to the FDA, there are four categories of fillers. Each is named for the type of material they’re made with:
- Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by your body and already found in your skin and tissues. Generally, fillers made with hyaluronic acid last between 6-12 months.
- Calcium hydroxylapatite is a mineral that is found naturally in our bones. Fillers made with this material last up to 18 months.
- Poly-L-lactic acid is a biodegradable synthetic material that’s also used to make medical products like dissolvable stitches. These fillers can last up to two years.
- Polymethylmethacrylate beads are the only filler that can’t be absorbed by your body, meaning the results are permanent. They’re only used around the mouth.
Hyaluronic acid, which you may recognize as a common ingredient in some topical skincare products, is one of the most popular and common types of fillers. Because it helps skin retain moisture, injected hyaluronic acid can make your face look more plump and hydrated. It’s also present in many lotions as a moisturizer, but no topical cream can truly restore lost volume – only injectable hyaluronic acid can do that. Juvederm and Restylane are two popular name brand hyaluronic fillers that you may have heard of.
2. How do I know which dermal filler to try?
A good doctor will explain the ideal treatment plan for your specific needs, but know that the most natural-looking results can often require more than one type of filler. There are many different brands of dermal fillers within each category, and the products will vary in where they can be used, and concentration of the active ingredient. For example, Restylane, one brand of hyaluronic filler, has several different lines – and each is used for different specific goals in mind. Restylane Lyft has larger particle sizes, sort of like bricks of a foundation. Those larger particles have the size and strength to “rebuild” thinned-out cheekbones, while a smaller particle size, as in Restylane Kysse, works better for addressing fine lines around the mouth and plumping lips.
3. Why do people get dermal fillers?
While it can very widely, many patients turn to dermal fillers to look slightly more youthful, but don’t want to turn to cosmetic surgery. Patients rely on dermal fillers to add in volume and smooth out wrinkles, which can minimize the signs of aging. Some younger patients like fillers because they are considered a way to ‘pre-jeuvenate’ their looks – that is, stay ahead of the visible aging process.
4. What should I ask my doctor during the consultation?
Always make your goals clear with your doctor – which particular signs of aging you are hoping to address, and what you hope to achieve with the treatment. You may think you just want dermal fillers, but an expert could recommend another treatment – even or a combination of treatments – based on your specific skin type and goals, and their experience.
5. What are the possible side effects of fillers?
Always keep in mind that even non-surgical procedures have their risks. The most common side effects include bruising, redness, or swelling, all of which should go away within two weeks, most likely even faster. Less frequently, people may experience raised bumps under their skin, that need to be treated with injections, medications, or even surgically removed, in very rare cases.
Although this is rare, filler can accidentally be injected into a nearby blood vessel and lead to blurred vision or permanent blindness. You should call your doctor or 911 if your skin turns blue and you’re in a lot of pain – these are two possible indications that filler is in your bloodstream.
6. Who should avoid dermal fillers?
According to the FDA, there’s no research showing that dermal fillers are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, so you may want to hold off if you’re pregnant or recently had a child. And here’s one more thing to keep in mind: avoid getting filler right before a teeth cleaning or other dental treatment. These dental procedures require pressure and stretching of the face that could potentially misplace recently-injected fillers. You can consult with your doctor for their opinion regarding when it’s safe to get any future dental work.
7. How much do dermal fillers cost?
If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If you see an advertised deal for inexpensive filler, be skeptical. The price of dermal fillers varies depending on the amount of product needed. In 2019, the average cost of hyaluronic acid based fillers was $652 per syringe, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Most patients require more than one syringe to achieve the results they’re looking for.
8. Are dermal fillers permanent?
If you’re unhappy with the way filler looks, no need to panic – in most cases, you can have your treatment adjusted. Your doctor might inject additional filler to solve the problem with, or they can dissolve it altogether, depending on the type of filler. With hyaluronic acid fillers, there’s an enzyme that can be injected into the area to dissolve the injected product.
9. How long will the results last?
Since the majority of fillers aren’t permanent, you’ll have to keep visiting the doctor’s office to maintain the results of your procedure. After about six months, your body naturally breaks down hyaluronic acid fillers. So, you have to get touch-ups once or twice a year to maintain your rejuvenated look. However, this is good news if you are looking to experiment with fillers, as the effects will fade away without any long-term risks.
10. What areas can dermal fillers treat?
Dermal fillers are primarily used in various parts of the face. Everywhere from the jawline and upwards to around the eyes, dermal fillers can help smooth wrinkles and lines. Some fillers can also be used on the back of the hands, to add volume and significantly reduce the signs of aging. Some fillers have been carefully crafted to be used in the very skin skin on the lips and surrounding areas. These contrast to thicker formulations, such as Juvederm Voluma, which can actually be used to contour the face, typically in the cheeks, chin and jawline.