Although plastic surgery and injections can still be 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 are facial 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'll walk out from the doctor's office looking 10 years younger in a matter of 20-30 minutes!
If injectable dermal fillers are so good, why are so many women still not 100% on board? There are many reasons but mostly because there is still so much we don't know about the procedure, including the long-term side effects. In case you are considering dermal or facial fillers and are interested to learn more, here we’ll explore in-depth about derma fillers and address the most commonly asked questions.
- What are dermal fillers
- What areas can dermal fillers treat
- How much do dermal fillers cost
- Types of dermal fillers and what they are made of
- How long do fillers in the face last
- Are dermal fillers safe? What are the side effects
- Natural alternatives
What Are Dermal Fillers and How Do They Work?
Dermal fillers are injected into specific zones on the face like the lips, cheeks, under-eyes, indented scars (like 'ice pick' scars) and deep wrinkles, and can even be used to reshape noses and jawlines. Dermal fillers, also called soft tissue fillers, can be injections of substances like hyaluronic acid, which is naturally occurring in the body and helps hydrate and plump up lines or depressions in the face, basically to restore volume. As we age, we lose hyaluronic acid, collagen and subcutaneous fat in our faces, resulting in a sunken look that can age us significantly.
Most of the dermal fillers are done by medical professionals. Recently there are a few non-invasive dermal filler brands on the market that allow you to inject hyaluronic acid (HA) directly into areas of your skin, in the convenience of your own home. The trade-off is the results may not be as effective compared to medical grade dermal fillers.
What Dermal Fillers Are Typically Used For
Dermal fillers are used for deep wrinkles on the face and neck to plump up their appearance, essentially making them far less noticeable and sometimes even making them disappear completely (albeit temporarily). They can be used under the eyes to reduce puffiness or restore volume.
For acne scars, injectable fillers can fill up deep indentations or “holes” and pockmarks that can significantly mar the texture of skin. Dermal fillers can further smooth out a crepey turkey neck, or crepey skin on the back of your hands and elbows and crow's feet.
Most recently, fillers can also be applied to parts of your body, for example plumping up the back of the hands to make them look fuller, hiding the ugly dark veins that can be visible for some.
How Much Do Dermal Fillers Cost
Cost for dermal fillers will vary, but typically will set you back a few thousand dollars. The cost is determined on a 'per syringe' basis, so the more syringes injected, the more expensive the cost. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons lists these average prices depending on the filler: (1)
- $691 per syringe for calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse)
- $682 per syringe for hyaluronic acid (Juvederm Ultra, Juvederm Ultra Plus, Restylane)
- $915 per syringe for polylactic acid (Sculptra)
- $889 per syringe for polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (Bellafill or Artefill)
Types of Dermal Fillers and What They're Made Of
Dermal fillers can be composed of a variety of substances, some naturally occurring and some synthetic. Here we list the most commonly used:
1. Hyaluronic acid wrinkle fillers
This is an injectable type of dermal filler that has temporary effects. As previously stated, hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in the body, found in such places as the joints, in addition to skin. In the skin, hyaluronic acid helps attract water and keep skin plump. As it diminishes with age, wrinkles and sagging as well as a sunken look can form.
When you inject hyaluronic acid, you can plump up wrinkles and sunken areas, making them look youthful once more. Injectable hyaluronic acid can also be used to plump up lips. Some brands of hyaluronic acid are Juvederm Ultra, Juvederm Ultra Plus and Restylane. Side effects include some slight redness or bruising in the injected areas, although bruising can be rare.
2. Synthetic wrinkle fillers
Synthetic wrinkle fillers include polylactic acid are bio-compatible, meaning that they are safe to use in the body. Polylactic acid is biodegradable. It is classified as a collagen stimulator because it helps to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin. Collagen is a protein that keeps skin firm. Without collagen (it diminishes with age), signs of aging like fine lines, deep wrinkles and sagging will develop.
Results with polylactic acid can last up to two years, and it is typically used for deeper wrinkles. Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is another type of synthetic filler also called Bellafill or Artefill. It features “microspheres,” or small balls, that go under the skin to offer support and structure. These fillers also contain collagen.
3. Collagen wrinkle fillers
Collagen wrinkle fillers are made from bovine collagen that also target deep wrinkles, thin or thinning lips and sunken cheeks. As they add fullness, they also create a rejuvenated, refreshed overall look. Collagen fillers usually last two to six months, so if you’re not necessarily happy with the results, you can rest assured that they will naturally go away in a few months.
Collagen filler side effects include stinging or burning sensations at the injection site as well as swelling or excess fullness. In some cases, allergic reactions like hives or a rash may occur, thus a sensitivity test is required. Bruising may also occur at the injection site.
4. Doctor’s office dermal fillers
If you’re visiting a dermatologist, they might be more knowledgeable about fillers and other procedures (like laser) that will help restore youthfulness to your skin. Plastic surgeons will also know about fillers, but they will also be better versed in invasive procedures like actual surgery.
5. Autologous wrinkle fillers or fat injections
These types of fillers involve your own fat (yes, you read that right!). Fat from your body is surgically removed from body parts like your stomach or thighs, treated and then injected into the areas that require it. This type of filler requires two procedures – removing the fat and then injecting it into your body. Another type of autologous filler involves injecting your own blood into your skin. Blood is drawn from your body and spun in a centrifuge to separate its contents before being injected into wrinkles to help improve volume loss. 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.
How Long Do Fillers In The Face Last?
How long fillers last will depend on the type of fillers used. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery: "How long the effects of dermal fillers will last depends on the product, the area of treatment, and the patient. Generally speaking, the denser the product is and the more deeply it is injected, the longer it will last, although this is not a hard and fast rule. To maintain your results, your cosmetic surgeon will simply repeat treatment, adjusting the amount and techniques as necessary to ensure optimal results."
In general, hyaluronic acid fillers tend to be the most temporary option and produce results that last between 6 to 18 months. Synthetic fillers tend to last longer.
Are Dermal Fillers Safe? General Risks and Side Effects
What can possibly go wrong with fillers? Well, side effects like allergic reactions (especially in the case of collagen fillers) 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.
In some cases, fillers may be overdone, resulting in a bumpy texture to skin. You basically have to wait for the filler to naturally fade away to get rid of this. However, some fillers can be removed by your doctor if you’re not happy with the results or if you’ve gone overboard. In rare cases, infections may occur. But your board-certified doctor 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).
What are some of the long-term side effects and complications?
According to CNN, a paper published in the Journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery spotlights both common and rare complications associated with fillers and raised in litigation, in the U.S.
"The paper demonstrated that fillers are very safe and that the most common complications are swelling and infection, which are relatively benign complications, with no permanent side effects," said Dr. Hani Rayess, an otolaryngology resident in the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and lead author of the paper. On the other hand, blindness is an extremely rare complication that has received attention in recent years.
Brent Moelleken, MD, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, added "I cannot tell you how many patients I have seen who have had very bad filler." Dr. Moelleken is a clinical associate professor of surgery at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.
He states that the research raises awareness that you can be ''one injection away from a disaster."
"Most problems with fillers are minor aesthetic problems," Dr. Moelleken continues. "Often, patients will have eyebrows that are too high, or lips a little too full -- and with time, because the fillers are temporary, their appearance will go back to how it was before. Other complications, though rare, can be serious. If they are injected into a blood vessel or injected too tightly into a tissue, there can be problems, such as the death of tissue in the tip of the nose or other tissue death."
Natural Alternatives to Dermal Fillers
Whether you prefer the 'au naturel' route or don’t want to pony up thousands of dollars nor have the time to visit a medispa for injections, or just hate (fear!) needles, there are other routes to keeping your skin looking as plump, firm and springy as possible.
Two of the most effective ways are to consume certain ingredients that have been clinically demonstrated to visibly improve the look of skin: collagen peptides and hyaluronic acid.
Liquid Marine Collagen Peptides – Collagen supplements that you can take orally are a great natural alternative to dermal fillers. Replenishing collagen in the body helps keep skin firm and pliant, restoring youthfulness and helping to refine texture, plump up sunken areas, improve elasticity and reduce sagging and wrinkles.
Collagen is important because it’s the most abundant protein in the body. In addition to giving skin its structure, it also exists in tendons, ligaments and muscles. Basically, collagen is an essential building block for the whole body.
Now, there are also studies that show that taking marine type 1 collagen supplements can help treat and prevent skin aging, especially in the face and neck region. There continues to be evidence, in both animal and human studies, that collagen supplements can help reverse common signs of aging like wrinkles and skin laxity, or sagging. Collagen supplementation works by not only increasing collagen production in the body, but also by increasing hydration. The more hydrated skin is, the younger it will look. Learn more about what to look for in the best collagen supplement for skin.
Natural collagen filler
Taut Collagen Replenishment Advance Formula is a great example of a collagen supplement that can help you to rejuvenate your skin with regular use. Each serving contains high potency 13,000mg Type I marine collagen peptides with 6 skin loving ingredients that helps boost elasticity and firmness, tones sagging skin, increases hydration and suppleness and makes skin look fuller and smoother in a way that greatly decreases the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
See before and after results from taking Taut Collagen to plump and firm their skin, in as little as 3 weeks.
Hyaluronic Acid Supplement - a non-invasive filler
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the body just like collagen. It is found in the skin, connective tissues and eyes, and its main job is to help your body retain water so that tissues in your body will remain lubricated and hydrated.
In the skin, its function is to keep it plump and young-looking. For example, babies have a lot of hyaluronic acid in their skin and it shows. Like collagen, hyaluronic acid naturally decreases in the body as we age. This leads to the formation of common skin aging issues like the appearance of wrinkles on the forehead, around the eyes, cheeks and neck.
In studies, doses of 120-240 mg of hyaluronic acid taken daily have been shown to increase moisture in the skin quite significantly. For people with dry skin, this is very important because dry skin is often more likely to develop wrinkles.
Taut’s Ultimate Transformation features a combination of Best Seller Taut Collagen Advanced Formula with Taut Hydrate hyaluronic acid supplements that work together to help replace the volume loss on your face, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and smooth out crepey skin. You can begin to see results in your skin 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 truly great thing about natural alternatives to dermal fillers is that there are no side effects like there are with dermal fillers, and there are no complications that may arise, such as an allergic reactions or infection. Also, they work on your body, and not just on your face!
They are also good for people who are not quite ready to commit to fillers or simply cannot afford them. The sooner you start using collagen and hyaluronic acid supplements, the better. Even if you’re still young, remember that starting early with prevention goes a long way.