Although plastic surgery and injections are still considered taboo, people are more likely to admit to them now. That’s because celebrities and other prominent, well-known people (hello, Jane Fonda and Kylie Jenner!) are no longer hiding the fact they are enhancing their visages to maintain their youthful look or use them as preventative treatments against signs of aging.
One of the most popular treatments these days is face fillers (or medically known as injectable dermal fillers), probably because they are less invasive, and unlike Botox, they are not a poison that stays in the body.
And the best part is? You get to walk out of the doctor's office looking 10 years younger in a matter of 20 to 30 minutes!
If injectable dermal fillers are so good, why are so many women not 100% on board and still opting for serious skin care products instead? There are many reasons, but mostly because there is still so much we don't know about the procedure, including the long-term risks of even the best dermal filler.
In case you are considering dermal or facial fillers and are interested to learn more, here, we’ll go into more depth about derma fillers and address the most commonly asked questions like:
- What are dermal fillers?
- What areas can dermal fillers treat?
- What’s the difference between dermal fillers and Botox?
- How much do injections cost?
- What are the different types of dermal fillers made of?
- How long do injections in the face last?
- Are they safe? What are the risks?
- What are some natural alternatives to a filler?
Let's get started!
More helpful reading: Beauty over 50
What Are Fillers & How Do They Work?
Dermal fillers, or dermatological fillers, are injected into specific zones of the face. They can be used in areas like:
- Indented scars (like 'ice pick' scars)
- Around the mouth (nasolabial folds or ‘smile lines’)
- Deep facial wrinkles
- Under and around the eyes (crows feet)
Not only can injections be used on lines and wrinkles, but they can even be used to reshape noses and jawlines.
Dermal fillers, also called soft tissue fillers, can be injections of a substance, such as hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is a molecule that is naturally occurring in our bodies and helps to hydrate and fill up lines or depressions in the face to restore volume loss and achieve a younger-looking plump face.
As we age, we lose HA, collagen, and subcutaneous facial fat, resulting in a sunken look that can age us significantly.
Most soft tissue fillers are done by a board-certified dermatologist, but they may also be done by a surgeon or other medical provider.
More helpful reading on how to get rid of crow’s feet.
Is Facial Filler Different Than Botox? (Botox Vs. Dermal Fillers)
It can be easy to use the words “filler” and “Botox” interchangeably as they are both injectable, FDA-approved procedures. But in reality, they are two very different cosmetic procedures that have very different functions when it comes to how they perform beneath the dermis.
To start with, a facial filler contains ingredients (e.g. HA, calcium hydroxylapatite, collagen) that are used to quite literally “fill in” the dermis to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Botox, on the other hand, contains a type of bacteria, botulinum toxin (where Botox gets its name), that has been purified. The bacteria in Botox freeze and relax facial muscles so that they have a limited range in motion. When you are unable to move your facial muscles, the appearance of lines and wrinkles is significantly reduced.
Unlike most fillers, Botox can be used as an anti-aging treatment since the limited movement of facial muscles can prevent new wrinkles from forming.
Along with the many cosmetic uses of Botox, it can also be used for medical procedures. A cosmetic surgeon may opt for Botox because it is an FDA-approved treatment for patients with chronic migraines, incontinence, hyperhidrosis, lazy eyes, muscle contractions, and cervical dystonia.1
More helpful reading: How long does Botox last?
What Dermal Fillers Are Typically Used For (Dermatology Fillers)
Dermal filler injections are used for deep wrinkles on the face and neck to plump up their appearance, essentially making them far less noticeable and often making them disappear completely (albeit temporarily). They can be used in places like under the eyes to reduce puffiness or restore volume in areas of thin skin like the lips and cheeks.
For acne scars, an injectable filler can fill up deep indentations or “holes” and pockmarks that can significantly mar the texture of the skin. Dermal fillers can further smooth out a crepey turkey neck, or crepey skin on the back of your hands and elbows.
Filler can also be used in places other than our face. For example, it can also be used in places like the legs and buttocks to get rid of cellulite. Fillers can also be used to plump up the back of the hands to make them look fuller and hide the dark veins that can cause us to look older.
More helpful reading:
How Much Do Derma Filler Injections Cost?
The cost for dermal fillers will vary, but typically they will set you back a few thousand dollars. The cost is determined on a 'per syringe' basis. So, the more syringes used, the more expensive the cost. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons lists the following as the average prices of FDA-approved filler:
- $691 per syringe for calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse)
- $682 per syringe for hyaluronic acid (Juvéderm Ultra, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Restylane Silk, Restylane Lyft)
- $915 per syringe for polylactic acid (Sculptra)
- $889 per syringe for polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (Bellafill or Artefill)2
More helpful reading:
Types Of Dermal Fillers (What Is Filler Made Of?)
Dermal fillers can be made of a variety of different ingredients. Some of the most common ones include:
1. Hyaluronic acid (HA) Cosmetic Filler
Hyaluronic acid fillers are one of the most commonly used types and are often chosen for their natural ingredients and temporary effects.
As previously stated, HA is naturally occurring in the body, found in such places as the joints, in addition to the dermis. In the dermis, HA helps attract water and keep the skin plump. As HA diminishes with age, wrinkles and sagging as well as a sunken look can start to become more apparent.
When you inject HA, you can plump up lines, wrinkles, and sunken areas, making them look youthful once again. Injectable HA can also be used to plump up and give volume to thin lips. Some brands of HA fillers include Juvéderm Ultra, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Restylane Silk, and Restylane Lyft. Often HA fillers contain lidocaine to help ease the pain of the injection process. Some risks of fillers include slight redness or bruising in the injected areas, although bruising is rarer.
More helpful reading on smoker's lips.
Enjoy the Full Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid With Taut
If you want to reap the full benefits of HA without any of the harmful additives and chemicals, Taut Hydrate could be just the solution to all of your skincare concerns.
This vegan supplement provides the body with a 120mg dose of HA with every serving as well as 120mg of grape seed extract, a powerful antioxidant that fights against free radical damage which could be affecting your skin health.
Designed to work on both your body and complexion, this HA supplement works hard to super-hydrate your dermis from within so that you can achieve red carpet radiance without any needles!
2. Synthetic Filler
Dermal synthetic fillers, including poly l lactic acid, are biocompatible, meaning that they are safe to use. Poly l lactic acid is biodegradable and is classified as a collagen stimulator because it helps to stimulate the production of collagen in the dermis. Collagen is a protein that keeps the dermis firm. Since our collagen levels start to diminish with age, signs of aging like lines, deep wrinkles, and sagging will develop. What is elastin? Learn more here.
Results with poly l lactic acid filler may last up to 2 years, and it is typically used for deeper wrinkles. Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is another type of synthetic dermal filler, also called Bellafill or Artefill. It features “microspheres,” or small balls, that go under the top layer of the dermis to offer support and structure. This type of injection also contains collagen.
What is collagen good for? Find out more here.
3. Collagen Facial Injections
Dermal collagen fillers made from bovine collagen can be used as a treatment for deep wrinkles, thin lips, smile lines, and sunken cheeks. As they add fullness, they also create a rejuvenated, refreshed overall look.
After collagen injections, results last anywhere from 6 months to 5 years, depending on the type of product used and the amount that was administered. Some side effects include stinging or burning sensations at the dermal injection site as well as swelling or excess fullness. In some cases, allergic reactions like hives or a rash may occur after treatment, thus a sensitivity test is required. Bruising may also occur at the injection site.
More helpful reading on collagen face mask.
4. Calcium Hydroxylapatite Fillers
Another common filler ingredient that’s used by cosmetic and medical health care providers is calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA). This naturally-found ingredient is FDA-approved for treating deep facial lines, but it also can be used as a collagen treatment to increase collagen production in the skin. Results generally can last up to a year.3, 4
More helpful reading:
5. Autologous Fillers Or Fat Injections
These types of cosmetic fillers involve your own fat (yes, you read that right!). Fat from your body is removed by a plastic surgeon or other board-certified health care provider from places like your stomach or thighs, treated, and then injected into the areas that need it.
These treatments require two procedures – first removing the fat, then injecting it. Another type of autologous filler involves a health care provider or surgeon injecting your own blood into the dermis. Your blood is first drawn and then spun in a centrifuge to separate its contents before being injected into wrinkles to help improve lost volume.
The platelets from the blood release enzymes that encourage healing to damaged areas, resulting in a more youthful glow and appearance. Redness, swelling, bruising, and tenderness are some common side effects of these types of treatments.
Note: If you’re visiting a board-certified dermatologist, they might be more knowledgeable about fillers and other procedures (like laser) that will help restore youthfulness to your skin. A board-certified cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon will also know about injections, but they will be better versed in invasive procedures for their patients like actual surgery.
More helpful reading by RenewSkin Inc.: How to get rid of deep forehead wrinkles
How Long Do Cosmetic Fillers In The Face Last?
How long injections last will depend on the type of cosmetic fillers used. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the amount of time that dermal fillers last depends on a few different factors such as:
- Where the dermal fillers were injected (treatment area)
- The type of filler used (the denser the product is, the longer it will stay)
- How deep the surgeon or medical professional injected the filler into the dermis
- The patient’s medical history, age, daily sun exposure, etc.5
In general, hyaluronic acid fillers tend to be the most temporary treatment option and the results last anywhere between 6 to 18 months. Synthetic cosmetic fillers tend to last longer, at least 12 months or more.
More helpful reading:
Are Dermal Fillers Safe? General Risks and Side Effects
What can possibly go wrong with filler treatments? Well, side effects like allergic reactions (especially in the case of collagen injections) can occur. Other, far less problematic side effects like bruising and swelling are common because, after all, a needle is being used on your tender skin during the procedure.
In some cases, fillers may be overdone, which can result in a bumpy appearance and texture. You basically have to wait for the filler to naturally fade away to get rid of this problem. However, some filler treatments can be removed in a doctor’s office by your board-certified cosmetic surgeon or health care provider if you’re not happy with the results or if you’ve gone overboard. In rare cases, infections may occur after treatment. But, your cosmetic surgeon will take precautions to prevent this, and generally, they are uncommon. All fillers can cause allergic reactions except autologous types (which are taken from your own body).
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What Are The Long-Term Health Risks of Wrinkle Fillers?
Dermal injections, just like any other medical procedure or treatment, are not free from risks, as mentioned above. While it’s much more likely that patients experience a botched job from a filler treatment, there are other, more extreme risks that patients need to take into consideration before undergoing this cosmetic procedure.
A paper published in the Journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery spotlights both common and rare complications associated with the most popular types of filler used in the health field in the U.S. The paper concluded that although injections are generally “very safe,” the most common mild complications that arose after an injection or filler treatments were “swelling and infection.” And, although rarer, more severe complications could include necrosis of the dermis and blindness.6
To comment on the findings of this paper, board-certified cosmetic surgeon Brent Moelleken, MD, noted that in his years of practice, he has seen many cases of “very bad filler” as a result of treatment from another medical health care provider.
And, while most of the issues that he has encountered “are minor aesthetic problems” such as asymmetry or oversized facial features, these problems are easily fixed as the filler diminishes over time.
However, a dermatologist or surgeon can also create irreversible damage by injecting filler incorrectly. For example, if a surgeon were to inject filler into a blood vessel or inject too much filler in one area, those tissues can die, which can cause permanent skin damage. That’s why it’s always important to find a trusted medical provider that is board-certified before undergoing any treatments. 7
Natural Alternatives to Dermal Fillers
Injections are not the only way you can achieve youthful skin. Whether you prefer the 'au naturel' route, don’t want to pony up thousands of dollars in treatment costs, don’t have the time to visit a medispa for filler or just hate (fear!) needles, there are other routes to keeping your skin natural-looking while plumping and firming the dermis to make it as springy and youthful as possible.
Two of the most effective ways are to consume certain ingredients that have been clinically demonstrated to visibly improve the look of your dermis: collagen peptides and hyaluronic acid.
Liquid Marine Collagen Peptides that you can take orally are a great natural alternative to fillers. Replenishing collagen keeps your dermis firm and pliant, restoring youthfulness, refining texture, plumping up sunken areas, improving elasticity, and reducing wrinkles.
Collagen is important because it’s the most abundant protein in our bodies. In addition to giving the dermis its structure, it also exists in tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Basically, collagen is an essential building block for the dermis.
Now, there are also studies that show that taking Type 1 marine collagen supplements can help treat and prevent premature aging, especially in facial and neck tissue. There continues to be evidence, in both animal and human studies, that collagen supplements can help reverse common signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging. Collagen supplementation works by not only increasing collagen production but also by increasing hydration. The more hydrated the dermis is, the younger it will look.
More helpful reading on the best collagen supplement for skin here.
Natural Collagen Wrinkle Filler
Taut Collagen Replenishment Advanced Formula is a great example of a collagen supplement that can help you to rejuvenate your dermis with regular use. Each serving contains 13,000mg of high-potency Type I marine collagen peptides with 6 anti aging vitamins and botanical ingredients that help boost elasticity and firmness, tone sagging, and increase hydration and suppleness to make your complexion look fuller and smoother in a way that greatly decreases the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
See the before and after results from customers who took Taut Collagen to plump and firm their complexion, in as little as 3 weeks.
HA Skin Supplement (A Non-Invasive Dermal Filler)
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our bodies just like collagen. It is found in the dermis, connective tissues, and eyes, and its main job is to help your dermis retain water so that the tissues in our bodies can remain lubricated and hydrated.
In the dermis, its function is to keep it plump and young-looking. For example, babies have a lot of HA in their dermis and it shows. Like collagen, HA naturally decreases in our bodies as we age. This leads to the formation of common aging issues like the appearance of wrinkles on the forehead, around the mouth, eyes, cheeks, and neck.
In studies, doses of 120 to 240 mg of hyaluronic acid taken daily have been shown to increase moisture in the dermis quite significantly. For people with dry skin, this is very important because dry skin is often more likely to develop wrinkles.8
More helpful reading:
Forget The Fillers & Transform Your Skin With Taut Collagen
Taut’s Ultimate Transformation features a combination of our best-selling Taut Collagen Advanced Formula with Taut Hydrate hyaluronic acid supplements that work together to help replace the lost volume on your face, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, smooth out crepiness, and support skin health.
You can begin to see results in your dermis in as little as 21 days!
Other ingredients include grape seed extract, DNA (sourced from salmon) to prevent free radical damage, ceramide to restore moisture, and vitamin C to support collagen synthesis.
The best thing about natural alternatives to injectables is that there are no side effects like there are with fillers, and there are no complications that may arise, such as an allergic reaction or infection. Also, they work from the inside out, supporting both your joints and your complexion!
They are also good for people who are not quite ready to commit to injections or simply cannot afford them. The sooner you start using collagen and HA supplements, the better. Even if you’re still young, remember that starting early with preventative measures can go a long way.
Ready to become a more radiant you? Contact our beauty advisors for more information about any of our transformation programs, which are all available as a monthly subscription.