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A Definitive Guide To Dermal Fillers

A Definitive Guide To Dermal Fillers

A widely used anti-ageing treatment, dermal fillers are used to plump and smooth the face. Read on for a comprehensive guide to this popular cosmetic procedure. 

Dermal fillers are one of the most widely used treatments for restoring smoothness and facial volume. Injected by an expert healthcare professional, they fill in space and absorb water to create a smoother, fuller appearance or enhance the contours of the face.

A common complaint of ageing is the general loss of volume in the face and less ‘bouncy’ skin. As we age, our supplies of collagen and elastin decline, and the fibres themselves become weaker and less springy. The surrounding fluids that cushion and support these fibres also begin to ‘dry up’ resulting in wrinkles, ridges, and a general loss of volume in the skin. While injecting neurotoxins, such as botulinum toxin, will help smooth out wrinkles caused by muscle movement, only a dermal injectable can address the depressions and loss of volume associated with ageing. This is why dermal fillers are most commonly used to fill nasolabial folds, marionette lines (from the edge of the mouth to the chin), the jawline, cheeks, lips and the under eye area.

What are dermal fillers?

Dermal fillers come in various formulations, each of which works differently in softening the lines, folds, creases and loss of volume associated with age and/or exposure to enviromental aggressors. Fillers are also effective for augmenting contours of the face; to create fuller lips, a more defined jawline or plumper cheeks for example. The most popular fillers are derived from hyaluronic acid, a water-binding sugar that is already produced in the skin. Hyaluronic acid fillers are usually well tolerated and the effects, if undesirable, can often be reversed by injecting an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which helps to dissolve hyaluronic acid fillers. Other fillers are composed of synthetically derived substances, such as calcium-based microspheres. However, these synthetic options cannot be reversed and the effects last longer, which could be problematic if the results are unfavourable. More recently, fillers have been created using the patient’s own cells with results lasting up to two years.

Who are dermal fillers for?

Fillers are appropriate for any skin type and address a multitude of age-related concerns, but only adults should have fillers, as they can inhibit bone structure if not fully developed at the time of injection. They can fill in hollows under the eyes and eliminate the depressions caused by deep creases, wrinkles, or scars, as well as plump up larger areas such as the cheeks and temples.

Recently, researchers have also discovered that injectables stimulate fibroblasts to synthesise additional collagen, so doctors are now increasingly seeing younger patients who use fillers as a preventative treatment to slow ageing¹. They are also popular for augmentation and contouring (fuller lips, a wider jawline, etc).

Fillers are not recommended to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

How do dermal fillers work?

A syringe needle injects a gel-like substance into the skin at various depths. A series of injections evenly disperses the filler. This filler substance fills up the area, resulting in improvements such as smoother nasolabial lines or fuller cheekbones. Although the discomfort associated with receiving dermal fillers is minimal, it is not entirely pain free. A treatment generally begins with the application of a numbing cream. After approximately 30 minutes, the numbing cream is removed and a series of injections are administered into the target areas. Certain areas may be more sensitive during injection. For example, under eye fillers may cause more discomfort to the patient than cheek fillers. Some soreness, bruising, and swelling may occur in the days, or even weeks, following the procedure. Many factors affect the severity of these side effects, such as the speed of the injections and the site of injection. Another factor is the material used for the filler. Fillers that provide semi-permanent results, as often seen in cheekbone fillers, are associated with more swelling and discomfort. Due to the potential side effects associated with dermal fillers, it is important that they are performed by a licensed skincare professional.

When should I get dermal fillers?

A single session of an injectable has the potential to last up to five years, depending on which kind of filler is used. Less permanent options, such as those composed of hyaluronic acid are more quickly absorbed, usually within 6 months. This especially holds true if the filler is injected  in a region with a lot of movement. Facial fillers do not increase sun sensitivity, making them a great year-round option. However, until the initial swelling has subsided, patients should avoid excessive heat exposure, including prolonged sun exposure.

It is recommended to incorporate an at-home skincare regimen after dermal fillers; always consult with your skincare professional for individual at-home advice.

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This article is intended as general information only. You should seek advice from a professional before altering your diet, changing your exercise regimen or starting any new course of conduct.


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