Dermal fillers at a glance
- Dermal fillers (or “wrinkle fillers”) are solutions injected into the skin that fill in fine lines or restore lost volume.
- Fillers made of hyaluronic acid, a natural substance present in the body, are preferred dermal fillers due to their compatibility with the body and superior results.
- Dermal filler results vary depending upon the filler used and treatment area, but typical treatments last six months or longer and can be repeated as necessary.
- Dermal filler procedures are quick, usually only 10 minutes, and treatments require no recovery time.
What are dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers are various solutions, natural-based and synthetic, that are injected into the skin to make up for the loss of fat that occurs with age and the skin’s natural stretching. When this fat is missing and the skin is stretched, the facial muscles are detectable under the skin, often showing as crow’s feet and smile lines. Dermal fillers “fill in” fine lines and restore tissue volume in the skin.
Dermal fillers are non-invasive skin rejuvenators and are very effective in reducing early signs of aging by smoothing creases and wrinkles on the face and filling in shallow contours. Fillers can also be used in plumping the lips, hands, jawlines and sagging cheeks and reducing the appearance of recessed scars, such as those occurring in acne.
Wrinkle fillers provide subtle transformations that can easily be adjusted to meet a patient’s aesthetic needs. Different types of dermal fillers have unique chemical properties, length of effectiveness and degrees of softness and thickness. The specific filler, or combination of fillers, the surgeon uses will depend on what areas are to be treated and the condition of those areas.
Specific types of dermal fillers include the following.
Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers
Hyaluronic acid is a water-soluble, natural substance that is the most popular of all dermal fillers. A natural substance found in the human body (and in almost every living thing), hyaluronic acid helps transfer nutrients to skin cells. It is extracted and converted into a gel that results in superior dermal filler that acts something like a cushion to support facial structure that has diminished in volume and elasticity. Hyaluronic acid also draws internal water to the skin surface, improving appearance and texture.
Hyaluronic acid is in the product Juvéderm®, Denver Aesthetic Surgery’s preferred dermal filler. Juvéderm® restores volume and softens wrinkles.
Rare side effects of hyaluronic acid dermal fillers can include redness, swelling and bruising at the injection site. The filler may also show up under the skin as tiny bumps. This is a problem that often improves over time.
Collagen dermal fillers
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that adds strength and structure to the skin. Collagen is one of the oldest dermal fillers used by plastic surgeons, but the arrival of hyaluronic acid-based fillers has decreased its popularity and it is rarely used.
Collagen also caries a higher risk of allergic reaction, in part because the most widely available collagen injections are derived from cows.
Synthetic wrinkle fillers
These fillers are lab-made substances not naturally found in the skin. They tend to have longer-lasting effects but have a greater risk of side effects, including:
- Bruising at the injection site
- Nodules or bumps under the skin that can be seen and felt and that, in rare cases, may require surgical removal.
Fat wrinkle fillers
A patient’s own fat, typically from thighs, buttocks or abdomen, can be also be transferred into targeted body areas. However, fat wrinkle fillers (sometimes called “fat grafting”) are not optimal fillers on all types of wrinkles and body areas.
Patients undergo two procedures during a fat grafting wrinkle filler procedure: one to remove the fat and one to inject it. There’s no risk of allergic reaction, and, in the right conditions, some people achieve permanent results. The body will naturally absorb some fat after it is injected, however, and the amount absorbed can be unpredictable. The surviving fat typically acts just like other living tissue in the body. Several injections may be required to get the most benefit.
Patients should discuss their goals with their surgeon to determine the appropriate dermal filler injection type.
Who is a good candidate for dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers are best used to soften initial signs of aging and add volume. They are not appropriate for certain lines and scars. Always consult a qualified plastic surgeon as to what skin rejuvenation or plastic surgery options are best for you. Common reasons to consider dermal fillers:
- Deep lines around the eyes, brow or mouth
- Decreased volume around jaw or lips
- Thin or unshapely lips
Dermal filler procedure
Treatments are quick and easy. No anesthesia is required, although a topical anesthetic or numbing cream can be used if desired.
Dermal fillers are first injected into the skin with thin needles, although the procedure will vary slightly upon the type of filler used and the area injected. Thicker fillers, used for volume replacement, are injected at a deeper tissue level and may be more uncomfortable than fillers being injected into fine lines and wrinkles.
Most patients only feel a slight pinprick from the injection. The injection process takes approximately ten minutes to reduce fine lines and other minimal cosmetic changes. For deeper wrinkles or extensive treatment areas, it can last up to an hour.
Recovering from a dermal filler procedure
Patients may experience mild discomfort for a few days following treatment, including swelling or bruising. After swelling goes down, a patient may consider additional injections for desired results.
The wrinkle-reducing effects of Juvéderm® and most other injections are temporary. Over time, the body absorbs the filler and treatment will need to be repeated to maintain the original results. Different fillers last different amounts of time, but all can be repeated as necessary.
Risks and side effects of dermal fillers
Dermal fillers are among the safest cosmetic procedures when performed correctly and in a medical setting. In very rare cases, skin cells may die if the wrinkle fillers are not used properly.
Minimal side effects include infection, swelling, bleeding or bruising at the injection site, and an allergic reaction to the filler. To minimize side effects after treatment, patients should always wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water and apply a cold compress to the treatment area as needed to reduce pain and swelling.
Certain drugs and supplements also increase the risk of bruising. Patients should discuss any medications and medical history with their doctor prior to treatment.