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Facial Fillers to Erase the Signs of Aging

Updated on January 4, 2013

Dermal Face Fillers

We all want to do just about anything to keep ourselves looking young and healthy but let's admit it, sometimes the thought of turning to injections to get rid of those lines and wrinkles is a bit scary. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what these wrinkle reducing treatments are all about and what risks they involve.

Here's some helpful information to clear up some of the mystery surrounding facial fillers so you can learn exactly how they work and decide if they are something you would want to consider. As your skin ages, the collagen and elastin that gives your face that firm and youthful appearance begins to breakdown resulting in the gradual development of frown lines, laugh lines, under eye wrinkles, and creases. A dermal or cosmetic filler is a synthetic product which is injected directly into lines and wrinkles with a needle, to plump up the skin and firm the treated areas. Wrinkle filler products are a non surgical way to quickly soften deep wrinkles, skin folds, creases, fine lines, and other unwanted facial features that develop as we get older.

What are they and how long do they last?

So what are these injections made up of you ask? The most commonly used face fillers use a hyaluronic acid gel which is a natural structural component of the skin. Whoa, way too scientific for me you say? In plain English, hyaluronic acid takes up space so your skin can't cave in and form wrinkles.

You have probably heard the trade names of a number of facial fillers. Some popular fillers you may recognize by name are Juvederm, Radiesse, and Restylane. Collagen based fillers are also available on the market and are another option for treating wrinkles. In most cases, results show up almost right away and will typically last anywhere between 4 and 12 months before treatment has to be repeated. The length of time results last can vary because each person responds differently as the filler is broken down and metabolised by the body over time.

Without additional treatments, eventually facial features will return to a pre-treatment state. Yep, it's kind of like what you saw in Cinderella; make it back to your doctor by midnight six months from now or you will look like a wrinkled mess again! I know, I know, you wanted something that would be a permanent solution to hold off the signs of aging and I'm sorry to break the news but there really is no such thing.

Treatments are usually performed in a doctors office or clinic specializing in non-surgical face lift services by technicians who are specially trained in performing these procedures. While you may have heard of "Botox parties" or similar events where individuals get together to give each other wrinkle filler injections, there are a number of dangers involved with this type of activity and it is highly recommended that you only seek treatment from experienced professionals.

Common Areas for Treatment

Here are some of the most common problem areas that are candidates for being treated with filler products:

  • Crows feet and wrinkles around the eyes
  • Marionette lines and creases near the corners of the mouth
  • Deep laugh lines that run from the nose to the side of the mouth
  • Frown lines above the nose and between the eyebrows
  • Forehead lines and folds
  • Smokers wrinkles and lip wrinkles

In addition to helping to reverse some of the more serious signs of aging, cosmetic fillers also serve other purposes as well. Some of the most common ones include plumping up and enhancing the lips (think Angelina Jolie here). Recently, some of the thicker fillers have even been used as a treatment to fill acne scars. If there is a wrinkle anyplace on your body, someone has probably attempted to get rid of it by using an injectable filler!

The Procedure

Going in for a treatment isn't as scary as it may sound. While none of us really like needles, it is actually less painful than you would imagine. Here's what you could expect:

The procedure for injecting a cosmetic or fine line filler product is relatively simple and in most cases, fairly painless.

In some cases, a local anesthetic cream may be applied to the treatment area prior to the procedure, especially for patients who have sensitive skin or a low tolerance for pain. The treatment is delivered using a syringe equipped with a long but very fine needle which is carefully injected into the dermal layer of the skin. For deeper lines and wrinkles, a thicker product is used to help fill them out more effectively. These thicker fillers are also used for sagging skin and larger creases. Various injection techniques may be used but there are two primary ones:

1. The linear threading technique which involves the injection being administered into the center portion of the wrinkle.

2. The serial puncture technique where several injections are inserted at multiple points along the entire length of the target area.

Recovery Time Associated with Dermal Fillers

New treatments can leave you wrinkle free today and back to work tomorrow. The recovery time is minimal for most treatments with patients usually able to return to normal daily life immediately following a treatment session.

There are sometimes mild side effects which include redness, swelling or bruising at the site of the injection similar to what you would see with any shot you would get at a doctor's office. It usually subsides within two days or less. Patients are usually asked not to touch the treated area for several days following their procedure to minimize the risk of infection at the injection site.

Some patients may decide to use a mild prescription painkiller for a couple of days following treatment but most people don't need anything more than an over-the-counter pain reliever. Having one of these treatments really isn't going to sideline you from your normal activities. The key point to remember is that the procedure is considered non surgical and doesn't involve any kind of downtime.

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How safe is it? As with any procedure involving an injection, there are some risks. Most of the time, the risks are minimal. Commonly used facial filler products are subject to rigorous testing and the law mandates FDA approval before they can be sold to the public. For the most part, they are extremely safe with a low reported incidence of reactions and or side effects.

Medical professionals generally recommend that bovine collagen filler products be avoided for clients who have been diagnosed with certain forms of arthritis or other more rare diseases. You should always report any significant delayed reactions to the treatment such as blistering on the surface of the skin, redness, or lumps to the practitioner immediately or if you experience any bruising and swelling that becomes painful.

When compared with many surgical wrinkle reduction procedures, injections carry fewer and generally less serious risks. For those of you who still don't like the idea of being injected with something or don't do well with needles, there are several effective topical wrinkle fillers on the market to choose from as well. Because most of these injections use ingredients that are naturally found in your skin, the body usually responds well to them.

Face Fillers Combined With Other Procedures

In certain situations, dermal fillers are very effective when used with other products such as Botox, laser wrinkle treatments, and chemical peels. Everyone is different and whether you are a good candidate for combined treatments will depend on your own personal situation and wrinkle reduction goals.

You can always discuss your options with a qualified provider before committing to a specific product or treatment. Most reputable service providers will gladly provide a free consultation to anyone who might be interested in doing business with them. Treat your consultation as if you were interviewing someone for a job, if you don't feel comfortable or have questions that aren't answered to your satisfaction, move on to another practitioner until you find someone you feel good about.

When combined with other non-invasive wrinkle reduction treatments, dermal fillers are an attractive option for bringing a healthy and youthful appearance back to your face quickly and with very little in the way of discomfort. As a general rule, short acting fillers will deliver the best results when combined with face lift surgery and longer lasting fillers are more effective when used in conjunction with treatments such as laser peels.

How Much Do They Cost?

The costs involved with getting a wrinkle filler injected can vary a bit depending on which treatment you decide to go with and the clinic performing the procedure. They certainly are a bit expensive with the cost of treatment ranging anywhere from around $200 to well over $1000 dollars. Treatment sessions sometimes need to be repeated after several months which can add to the cost.

The good news for those considering a wrinkle filler treatment is that prices have started to come down as more and more competing products have entered the marketplace. Service providers calculate the cost quote it on a per injection basis for most procedures. At times you may see the cost reflected in a "per unit" basis which simply refers to a single syringe filled with product. Is it worth the price? That depends on who you ask. Some patients who have undergone treatments absolutely love the results and claim that it is worth every last penny. Others decide that it is easier and more affordable to stick with an instant wrinkle filler that they can use at home.

How They Compare to Topical Treatments

The first and most obvious difference is that the topical wrinkle treatments and creams don't require any kind of needle. The second biggest difference is the cost. When you consider that facial fillers cost hundreds of dollars per treatment and need multiple treatments to maintain the results, it is an awfully expensive endeavor.

Topical treatments on the other hand are usually priced between about $30 and $125 for a one or two month supply. As far as effectiveness is concerned, there are some great topical products on the market that can produce very similar results. The most significant difference here is that topical wrinkle reducing creams and serums need to be applied daily where you can go up to several months between treatments when you opt for injections instead.

For most people, the decision to go with either a topical anti-wrinkle product or an injectable wrinkle filler is usually based on one of three things: cost, needles, and concern over side effects and risks. Because injectable fillers haven't been around for very long, there are few long-term studies showing what is likely to happen several years down the road. What it really comes down to is a matter of personal choice. If you've done your research and decide cosmetic injections are for you, the results can be very satisfying. If you are on the cautious side or don't have a lot of extra money, you are probably better sticking with an anti-wrinkle cream or topical wrinkle filler you can use at home.

Which anti-wrinkle injections have you used?

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