Dermal fillers have come a long way since cosmetic collagen was first approved in 1981. While bovine (cow) collagen remained the lone injectable filler for the next decade, growing demand has sparked a surge of new products to smooth and shape all areas of the face including laugh lines, nasolabial folds, under-eye hollows and more.
All dermal fillers work in the same way, literally filling in folds and creases in the skin to add volume. Fillers raise depressed areas to the same level as the rest of the skin, so that wrinkles instantly disappears or significantly lessen.
You can also use fillers to build a fuller pout or hide embarrassing nasal bumps. Sometimes referred to as “liquid facelifts,” fillers often present a gentler, if shorter lasting, alternative to cosmetic surgery.
According to Dr. Debra Luftman in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, “Hyaluronic fillers are the best option for natural-looking, long-acting dermal fillers.” Hyaluronic acid is made from sugars found naturally in the body, which retain water to add volume to the skin.
Brand names include Juvederm. Restylane and Perlane. Typically, the first treatment only lasts about six months; however, further treatments may last up to one year.
Patients seeking longer-lasting smoothness may prefer calcium fillers, which can last up to 18 months. These products contain calcium hydroxylapatite microspheres, and are ideal for deep folds like those around the mouth.
Radiesse is a major brand of calcium-based filler, and is generally more expensive than hyaluronic acid fillers. However, the cost may even out if you need fewer injections over the years, so don’t shun these on price alone.
Poly-L-lactic acid was originally approved to treat facial wasting in AIDS patients, but is now widely used for cosmetic use. Sold under the brand name Sculptra, Poly-L-lactic acid is the same substance used in resorbable stitches.
Results last up to two years; however, the process requires up to four separate injections, spaced several weeks apart. Sculptra is not used for smaller wrinkles, but rather plumps up larger areas.
Yes, collagen is still around — and it’s safer and more effective than ever. Your skin naturally produces collagen to keep it soft and supple, but collagen production diminishes with age. When injected, it fills in facial lines and may also camouflage scars.
Because some people are allergic to bovine collagen, your skincare professional will probably administer a test before proceeding with this treatment. Zyderm and Zyplast are two brand-name bovine collagen products.
Other products, such as CosmoPlast and CosmoDerm, have human collagen produced in a lab. These may be less likely to cause an allergic response.
Nope, it’s not science fiction: Patients who undergo liposuction can opt to use their own body fat to fill in facial wrinkles. Because this procedure requires surgical incisions rather than a simple injection, the risks are higher. Patients may experience infections or excessive bleeding, and may get bruises that take weeks to heal. And although results are longer-lasting than with most injectables, there is a chance that the fat may eventually be reabsorbed into the body.
Ultimately, only a trained dermatologist or other skincare professional can help determine whether dermal fillers are right for you, and which type is best for your needs. Each option comes with potential side effects, so be sure to do your homework and weigh the risks vs. rewards.
About The Author
Mia Liefso is a professional medical skin therapist and the owner of Bradford Skin Clinic & Med Spa in Bradford, Ontario. She has certifications in IPL, VPL, laser and ultrasound technologies, as well as body contouring and medical facial peels. Her professional interests include difficult skin conditions—psoriasis, and acne—premature aging, skin care for the elderly, endocrinology, and helping people love the skin they’re in. Her diverse personal interests include history, animals, roller derby, travelling and gourmet cooking.