Dermal Fillers 101

Dermal fillers seem to be all the rage. But what are they? Otherwise known as “liquid facelifts,” dermal fillers are used to restore youthful fullness to the face, plump up lips, enhance shallow contours and soften facial creases and wrinkles. Unlike surgical procedures, dermal fillers are non-invasive. They work fast too — most of them fill lines and wrinkles in less than 30 minutes. And the results can last from four months to more than a year. Dermal fillers live up to the hype.

That said, dermal fillers have their limitations. They can’t help with certain dermatological issues such as excess sagging skin. But they can add more volume to the face and reduce the appearance of wrinkles—and all at a significantly lower cost than more invasive surgeries.

Five main types of dermal fillers are currently available on the market, including both temporary and semi-permanent fillers. When considering which filler might be best, you should keep in mind that not every wrinkle is right for every type of dermal filler. Indeed, it’s vitally important you choose the right one: The least risks and best results come from correctly using the right dermal fillers. How can you tell which dermal filler is right for you? Read on.

Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers

A naturally occurring substance found in the body, hyaluronic acid diminishes the appearance of wrinkles when injected into the skin. In fact, hyaluronic acid’s primary function is to bind and absorb water, which creates volume in the face. During the natural aging process, naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in the body diminishes. The result? The presence of those annoying lines and folds. Hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane, correct these signs of age by restoring hyaluronic acid in the skin, helping to decrease the appearance of lines and folds. Hyaluronic acid injections have more uses, besides. They can also be used to improve the skin’s contour and reduce depressions in the skin due to scars, injury or lines.

Collagen Dermal Fillers

Like hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, collagen dermal fillers are as natural as they come. Collagen is a protein naturally found in the human body. It’s responsible for connecting and supporting other bodily tissues, such as skin, cartilage and muscles. In fact, collagen is a key support structure in the skin. As skin ages and collagen breaks down, wrinkles, frown lines and fine lines start to appear. Although collagen injections will not prevent skin from aging, they can soften the signs of aging, fill scars and add volume, enhancing the youthful appearance of the face.

Polylactic Acid Dermal Fillers

Sounds scary, right? But polylactic acid is a good thing. A synthetic substance that stimulates the production of collagen when injected into the skin, it imparts a renewed youth to aging facial lines. Known as a “stimulator,” polylactic acid is non-toxic and biodegradable. It works particularly well in the lower half of the face. Polylactic acid-based dermal fillers can fill in laugh lines, augment thin lips, and fill out deep nasolabial folds. But you’ve got to be patient. Unlike other dermal fillers, polylactic acid produces gradual results over a period of a few months.

Calcium Hydroxylapatite Dermal Fillers

Calcium hydroxylapatite, a substance found naturally in human bones, is a mineral-like compound. It’s the heaviest of the facial dermal fillers, and it’s often used to fill moderate-to-severe creases such as nasolabial folds, marionette and frown lines. It also enhances the fullness of cheeks and other facial contours. Calcium hydroxylapatite-based dermal fillers are semi-permanent and produce very natural looking results.

PMMA Dermal Fillers

PMMA is short for polymethylmethacrylate. A mouthful, right? But it’s a semi-permanent dermal filler that contains 20 percent of tiny PMMA microspheres that are suspended in 80 percent purified collagen gel. A few months after it is injected, the collagen gel breaks down, and the body produces its own natural collagen to fill out space under the skin. This revolutionary dermal filler is used to treat medium-to-deep wrinkles, folds and furrows, and especially nasolabial folds. They are also used to fill in pitted scars and to augment thin lips.

Expect the Extraordinary

Dermal fillers produce results that often amaze, but the actual procedure is quite simple. Before receiving dermal filler injections, the physician will assess your desired results. He or she will evaluate your facial appearance and skin tone, examining the areas of the face to be augmented. She will then clean the area with an antibacterial agent and inject a topical anesthetic to numb the injection site. The actual injections only take at most a few minutes.  Afterward, the physician will clean off all the marks, and an ice pack will be applied to the treatment site. It is imperative that you do not apply pressure to the treated areas, as this could result in the displacement of the dermal filler. As far as side effects are concerned, you’re most likely to experience swelling or a bit of bruising, but you can resume most activities right after treatment.

Though complications from dermal fillers are rare, they can still happen. The most common risks and complications include allergic reactions, migration, infection, swelling, temporary paralysis, and asymmetry.

The best part about dermal fillers? Instant gratification. That is, results can be seen immediately. Not only that, but they gradually improve over the course of two weeks as the skin grows accustomed to their presence. Though results achieved with dermal fillers are not permanent, they can last anywhere from four months up to two years after a single treatment, depending on the type of dermal filler used.

Are Dermal Fillers Right for You?

Perhaps. Dermal fillers are a wonderful way to rejuvenate your appearance—but it is important to keep in mind that they can’t stop the aging process. Dermal fillers are intended to be only temporary cosmetic enhancements, and usually only last between four months to two years after a single treatment. That being said, they are an effective and affordable alternative to invasive surgical procedures. In fact, many people find they offer impressive changes and improvements in their appearance, such as a reduction of forehead wrinkles. Dermal fillers are a great choice for people who want to gently halt the aging process until they’re ready to take a step in the direction of a more permanent surgical option.