Dermal Fillers - Benefits, Uses, and Types
Many signs of aging such as wrinkles, frown lines, and hollowness around the cheeks can be attributed to a loss in volume of facial tissues. Dermal fillers help to restore a more youthful appearance by adding this volume back - smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, plumping the lips, and improving facial structure.
What are Dermal Fillers?
Dermal fillers are a cost-effective way to look younger without undergoing surgical procedures. There are a few different types and are applied by injection underneath the skin. Dermal fillers are made of gel-like substances and are one of our most popular and favored facial rejuvenation treatments for fine lines, crepey under eye skin, and wrinkles.
Benefits Of Dermal Fillers
You may have heard about dermal fillers being used as ‘wrinkle fillers’, but the fact is these treatments can be used for much more. A few other ways dermal fillers can help restore youthfulness are:
To smooth the lines surrounding the nose and mouth areas (a.k.a. marionette lines, smile lines, and parentheses)
To treat sunken cheeks or temples by restoring volume
To minimize vertical lip lines
Plumping and enhancement of the lips
To smoothen out creases in and around the chin
To align facial features and improve symmetry around the facial structure
What are Dermal Fillers made with?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several dermal fillers for use by cosmetic surgeons. Generally speaking the types of dermal fillers are categorized according to the substance they are derived from. It is important to know which types and brand names of fillers are FDA approved so that you seek out your treatments and provider safely. Dermal fillers have been approved for various uses in those aged 22 and older.
There are four types of fillers that have several brands underneath them safe for use in injectable treatments: Hyaluronic Acid (HA), Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA), Poly-L-lactic Acid, and Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Read onto learn more about each one and the brand names you should look for.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid is one of our most popular filler treatments. Similar to collagen, it is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies that is already abundant in our skin. Hyaluronic acid is what keeps our skin hydrated. Fillers made from hyaluronic acid are typically soft and gel-like and the effects last from 6 to 12 months post-treatment.
FDA approved brands of HA fillers include:
Juvéderm product (Juvéderm XC, VOLUMA, VOLBELLA, VOLLURE)
Restylane products (Restylane, Restylane Silk, Restylane Lyft, Restylane Refyne, Restylane Defyne, Restylane Kysse, Restylane Contour)
The RHA collection (RHA 2, RHA 3, and RHA 4)
Hyaluronic acid injections are a good choice if you are getting filler treatments for the first time as the effects of treatment tend to wear down quicker and additional treatments are generally needed every six months. They are the most commonly used treatment and cover a wide variety of skin concerns such as scarring from acne, burns, or wounds, marionette lines around the mouth, crows feet around the eyes, frown lines between the eyebrows, and smile lines around the nose and mouth. Dramatic improvements are shown in the skin’s contour after HA treatments.
Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA)
Calcium hydroxylapatite is another type of dermal filler derived from a natural substance found in our body (it is primarily found within our bones). This filler contains microscopic calcium particles within a smooth gel like formula. The consistency of a CaHA filler is a bit thicker than HA fillers and typically lasts longer (about 12 months). This treatment is typically used for deeper set fine lines and wrinkles. FDA approved CaHA fillers include Radiesse®.
This filler is a biocompatible synthetic substance (meaning it is safe for use in the body). Products found in this classification are technically considered ‘collagen stimulators’ because they promote the rebuilding of natural collagen in your skin. Results are much longer lasting (usually up to 2 years or longer) and are used to treat deeper facial wrinkles, plump thin lips, and fill in lines around the face to improve contour. FDA approved Poly-L-lactic acid fillers include Sculptra® Aesthetic. Synthetic fillers tend to last longer, as they are not absorbed by the body. Unlike HA fillers, results are more gradual and not seen immediately, you’ll usually see results after a few months and a few treatments are generally needed to achieve desired results. This filler is considered semi-permanent however you may still require occasional treatments to maintain the beneficial effects.
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is a synthetic, biocompatible substance. It takes the form of a tiny ball beneath the skin and remains there indefinitely to provide ongoing support. These fillers contain collagen which promotes better structure and firmness of the skin. FDA-approved PMMA fillers include Bellafill® (formerly known as Artefill). This filler is also semi-permanent and typically used in treating medium to deep wrinkles and folds in the skin, particularly nasolabial folds. Generally, several injections are needed for full effects to be realized and results are achieved over a few months.
Which Dermal Filler is best?
It can be hard to decide which filler treatment is best for you with so many options out there, make sure to seek guidance from a cosmetic dermatologist to determine what’s best for you. All dermal fillers are uniquely formulated and have different injection depths and density levels. Working with an experienced practitioner is the key to selecting the best solution for your skincare goals. The diagram below from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery provides a good breakdown of where fillers are commonly used to treat different areas of the face.
Picture source: American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
Selecting the Right Cosmetic Dermatology Provider
Make sure to educate yourself on the various types uses and benefits of dermal fillers and seek out providers that have the knowledge and skill to ensure safe treatment and good results. Stay away from needle-free devices such as hyaluron pens. A safety communication has been issued by the FDA in October 2021 to warn the public about the dangers of using these products. Never be tricked into buying fillers that are sold directly to the public rather than through a treatment provider. Your skin is your greatest asset and is not to be taken for granted!