What are Injectable Dermal Fillers?
Dermal fillers are gel-like substances that are injected beneath the skin to restore lost volume, smooth fine lines and deep creases, or enhance facial contours.
Over the last few years, more than 1 million men and women annually have chosen this popular facial rejuvenation treatment, which can be a cost-effective way to look younger without surgery or downtime.
How Can Dermal Fillers Enhance My Appearance?
While dermal fillers are casually known as “wrinkle fillers,” they can do much more than just smooth out wrinkles, although they are excellent at this too! Here are a few of the common issues dermal fillers can help address:
- Smooth out lines around nose and mouth. (a.k.a. marionette lines, smile lines, and parentheses)
- Enhance & restore volume to sunken cheeks
- Diminish vertical lip lines
- Plump & enhance the lips
- Smooth out a chin crease
What are Fillers Made With?
There are a variety of FDA approved filler products that cosmetic surgeons use to achieve an individual patient’s goals. Each is uniquely formulated to have a certain texture, density, and injection depth, which means that certain fillers work better for certain areas of concern. In general, fillers are categorized by the substance they are made from. A note for your safety: always make sure that you are receiving FDA approved, brand name fillers, which are only available through a licensed physician, such as a board certified cosmetic surgeon.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance that is already found in your skin. It helps keep skin plump and hydrated. HA fillers are typically soft and gel-like. The results are temporary, lasting 6 to 12 months or longer before the body gradually and naturally absorbs the particles. Certain HA fillers are infused with lidocaine to help minimize discomfort during and after treatment. FDA approved HA fillers include: Juvederm, VOLUMA, VOLBELLA, Belotero, Restylane, Restylane Silk, and Restylane Lyft (formerly Perlane).
Calcium hydroxylapatite is also a naturally occurring substance, found primarily in our bones. When used in a filler, the calcium particles are very tiny, almost microscopic, and suspended in a smooth gel.
The consistency of a calcium hydroxylapatite filler is typically thicker than that of a hyaluronic acid filler, and the results will typically last longer as well, about 12 months for most patients. Calcium hydroxylapatite is also reported to help stimulate natural collagen production, and it is typically used for deeper lines and wrinkles. FDA approved calcium hydroxylapatite fillers include Radiesse.
Poly-L-lactic acid is a biocompatible (meaning it is safe to use in the body), biodegradable synthetic substance.
It has been used for many years in a number of medical devices, such as dissolvable stitches. Poly-L-lactic acid fillers are considered “semi-permanent,” as the results typically last more than 2 years, and can help stimulate collagen production. As a thicker filler material, Poly-L-lactic acid is typically used to treat deeper facial wrinkles. FDA approved Poly-L-lactic acid fillers include Sculptra Aesthetic.
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is a synthetic, biocompatible substance that has been used in medicine for much of the last century. When used in dermal fillers, PMMA takes the form of a “microsphere” or tiny ball, that remains beneath the skin indefinitely to provide continued support.
PMMA fillers will also contain collagen, a naturally occurring substance in the skin that provides structure and firmness. FDA approved PMMA fillers include Belefill (formerly known as Artefill).
Choosing a Provider for Filler Treatments
When selecting a provider for injectable treatments, give your decision the same level of care and scrutiny that you would for a surgical procedure. Even though it is non-surgical, filler treatment is still a medical procedure that requires specific training, knowledge and skill to ensure safe treatment and natural-looking results. You’ll want to choose a provider with an extensive knowledge of facial anatomy, a well-developed aesthetic eye, and a surgeon’s skill and precision.
Whomever you choose, make sure your provider has a proven background in cosmetic medicine as well as training and substantial experience performing filler injections. Ask to see before & after photos of each potential provider’s patients. If an R.N. or physician’s assistant will be performing your injections, that person should be working closely under the supervision of a qualified physician, preferably a board certified cosmetic surgeon.
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.