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What are dermal fillers?


Dermal fillers help to diminish facial lines and restore volume and fullness in the face. As we age, our faces naturally lose subcutaneous fat. The facial muscles are then working closer to the skin surface, so smile lines and crow's feet become more apparent.

The facial skin also stretches a bit, adding to this loss of facial volume. Other factors that affect the facial skin include sun exposure, heredity and lifestyle.

What dermal fillers can do

  • Plump thin lips
  • Enhance shallow contours
  • Soften facial creases and wrinkles
  • Improve the appearance of recessed scars
  • Reconstruct contour deformities in the face
  • Decrease or remove the shadow of the lower lids

Dermal fillers can be very helpful in those with early signs of aging, or as a value-added part of facial rejuvenation surgery.

What dermal fillers can't do

For some patients, surgery such as a facelift, brow lift or eye lift may be the best approach. Nonsurgical rejuvenation treatments, such as soft tissue fillers, cannot achieve the same results, but may help delay the time when consideration of a facelift becomes appropriate. It is important to remember that dermal fillers are temporary treatments for facial aging and that ongoing treatments will be needed for long-term results.

Dermal fillers are injections used to fill out wrinkles and creases in the skin.

They can also be used to increase the volume and definition of the lips and cheeks. The fillers are made from a variety of materials and the effects can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the type of filler:

  • Collagen – effects last three to four months
  • Hyaluronic Acid – lasts about four to six months
  • Calcium Hydroxylapatite – lasts about 18 months
  • Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) – effects of injections given over several months may last up to two years
  • Polymethylmethacrylate beads (PMMA) – permanent, but most risky

Before you go ahead

If you're considering dermal fillers, be certain about why you want to have them. The procedure can be expensive and has its limitations. Cost: In the UK, facial fillers cost about £150 to £300 per session, depending on the amount of product used.

Limitations:

  • Most fillers aren't permanent.
  • There's no guarantee the desired effect will be achieved. The ageing process will still happen elsewhere – fillers will not, for example, fix a sagging jawline.

Safety: Take time to find a reputable practitioner who is properly qualified and practises in a clean, safe and appropriate environment. Ask the practitioner what you should do if something were to go wrong.

What it involves

You may be offered a local anaesthetic cream or injection. The practitioner injects the filler in a series of small injections and may massage the area.

The treatment time can vary from 30 minutes to an hour. It may be uncomfortable, but should not be very painful.

Afterwards

The area may be a little swollen, tender and red for 24 hours. During that time you may be advised to avoid coffee, alcohol, hot drinks and the sun.

Risks

The risks of dermal fillers depend on whether the procedure was done correctly and the type of filler used. Permanent fillers have the highest risk of problems and some practitioners feel they are best avoided.

General risks of dermal fillers include:

  • rashes, swelling, itching and bruising
  • an infection
  • the filler moving away from the intended treatment area over time
  • (in rare cases) the filler forming lumps under the skin – this may need to be treated with surgery or medication
  • (in rare cases) the filler blocking a blood vessel – this can lead to tissue death, permanent blindness or a pulmonary embolism
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