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Dermal fillers that are injected are gel-like substances that are put under the skin to change how it looks. They are a popular way to treat wrinkles with little risk.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery says that more than 1 million people get dermal fillers every year.
Loss of fat and proteins in the skin layer can cause sagging or wrinkled skin as you age. Injectables can’t replace lost fat and proteins permanently, but they can make your skin look like it did before.
In contrast to Botox treatments, which relax your muscles to reduce the look of wrinkles, dermal fillers are known for making your skin smoother, plumper, and fuller.
Types of wrinkle fillers
There are different kinds of wrinkle fillers, and each one works a little bit differently.
Your skin already makes hyaluronic acid on its own. You may have seen this ingredient in skin care products that say they will make your skin firmer and keep it moist.
The results of hyaluronic acid fillers can last from 6 to 12 months.
Your bones have this kind of calcium. It is a mineral-like compound that is soft like a gel and doesn’t need any animal products to make. This makes it suitable for vegans. This is one of the injectables that lasts the longest, from 9 to 15 months.
Polylactic acid is a filler that breaks down in a day or two. Poly-L-lactic acid isn’t meant to stay under your skin. Instead, it is supposed to make your body make more collagen on its own.
Poly-L-lactic acid is the same thing that is in the stitches that dissolve after surgery and help the wound heal. Even though this ingredient breaks down naturally, it is still made from chemicals.
Polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) microspheres
These microspheres are tiny, man-made balls that are injected into deep wrinkles or thin lips to give them shape or add volume.
People think that PMMA microspheres will last longer than hyaluronic acid and polylactic acid. Because this treatment works for a long time, doctors often need to see the patient more than once to slowly fill in the area with a number of smaller injections.
Autologous fat injections
The material for this type of filler comes from your own body. Autologous fat injections use fat from your own body, like the fat in your stomach or buttocks.
Liposuction is used to remove the fat, which is then injected into another part of your body where volume has been lost. These natural fillers last forever, which isn’t true of most other types of injectables.
Where you can use them
Depending on what part of your body you want to fill, you may need a different type of filler.
Most fillers can be used in this area, but there are a few that some people might like better. PMMA, polylactic acid, and some hyaluronic acids could be examples of these.
Around the eyes, you can use fat injections, hyaluronic acid, and polylactic acid. Some hyaluronic acids might work better in this area than others. Some don’t do the best job of fixing the problem and can make the area look lumpy or bumpy.
You should know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any filler for use under the eyes.
Nasolabial or smile lines
The FDA has given permission for most hyaluronic acids and PMMA microspheres to be used in this area. They can be used on the lines around your nose and where you smile.
Forehead and crow’s feet
If you don’t want to get Botox injections, you can use polylactic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, or PMMA to fill in your forehead lines and crow’s feet.
Fillers in this area are also not approved by the FDA, and many providers won’t use injectables in this area because of complications.
Polylactic acid and many of the hyaluronic acids can be used to fill out and shape the cheeks.
Most hyaluronic acids can be used to fill in lips, and the FDA has given them permission to do so. Most of the other fillers aren’t good for the lips.
You can shape and add volume to the chin with calcium hydroxylapatite, hyaluronic acid, or pretty much any of the above dermal fillers.
Hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite can be used to fill in veins and tighten loose skin on your hands.
Chest or décolletage
Hyaluronic acid can be used to treat wrinkles around your chest and lower neck. This is not the same as getting your breasts bigger.
Fillers do improve your appearance in ways that can be measured. People who swear by fillers say that their skin looks younger, they have less fine lines and wrinkles, and their bones are more visible.
Fillers are easy to use and do what they are meant to do for people who are self-conscious about the visible signs of ageing.
Hyaluronic acid, in particular, may soften scar tissue and add volume to the area where it is injected.
Fillers usually have few and easy to deal with side effects. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- swelling at the injection site
- pain in the days after treatment
In less common instances, you may experience rarer side effects. If you use hyaluronic acid or your own fat as a filler, you may be more likely to experience these side effects.
Rare side effects include:
- visible clumping of the filler material
- filler material in an area of your face where it wasn’t injected, also called filler migration
- blurred vision and, in severe cases, blindness
- allergic reaction
- discoloration or a change in skin pigment
Filler vs. Botox
Fillers may give you a more youthful look like neurotoxin injections, which are better known by the brand name Botox, but they work in a very different way.
Botox works by making the muscle under your skin unable to move. It’s hard to tell how Botox will affect each person’s body and how stiff their facial expressions will be afterwards.
Botox takes days or weeks to work, so you don’t see the results right away. The effects last 3–4 months.
With fillers, the material is put under your skin through injections. Depending on the type, this material can be used for different things, but all fillers have the same goal: to restore lost volume to make skin look smoother, fuller, and more structured.
Most of the time, you can tell how well fillers are working within a few hours. Their effects usually last longer than Botox, anywhere from 6 months to forever, depending on the type of filler material.
How to minimise risks
There are things you can do to lessen the chance that fillers will make you sick. Find a licenced provider and do your research by reading reviews and going to an initial consultation.
Remember that you should never buy dermal fillers online and that you shouldn’t try to inject them yourself.
Also, you should know that the FDA hasn’t approved silicone injections as a way to change the shape of your body. Fillers for your butt and for the spaces between your muscles aren’t safe or approved.
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully before and after getting a dermal filler treatment. Don’t drink alcohol the day before and two days after the procedure.
If there is swelling, put aloe vera gel or arnica gel on the area. Don’t scratch or touch the area around the injection so you don’t get bacteria there.
If your side effects are worse than you thought they would be, you should call your doctor right away.
When to talk with a doctor
If you’re thinking about getting dermal fillers, talk to a licenced cosmetic surgeon in your area. During this consultation, you should talk honestly about the things you want to change and what kind of results you can expect.
Your doctor should be honest about how well fillers work and how long they will last.
Make sure to talk about how much these treatments will cost you out of your own pocket during this consultation. Dermal fillers are not covered by insurance, but there are very rare cases where they are.
The bottom line
Dermal fillers are a low-risk way to slow down or stop the effects of ageing. There are many different types of fillers, and a doctor can help you choose the best one based on your budget and the areas you want to treat.
Most of the time, the effects of fillers last longer than those of Botox, and fillers are cheaper and less invasive than a surgical facelift.
Talk to your doctor about cosmetic fillers if your wrinkles and sagging skin are making your life difficult.