What is a dermal filler?
Dermal fillers are gel-like substances injected just underneath the skin to fill lines, softening their appearance. They are also used in lips to plump them up, soften lines around lips for example smokers’ lines and lines in the chin. More recently, the trend has been to use fillers in the cheek area to lift the apple of the cheeks giving the face a more contoured appearance.
What is the gel-like substance made of?
Dermal fillers can be made from a variety of products. However, the majority of temporary fillers are hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a proteinaceous substance that exists in the dermis of the skin and together with collagen and elastin fibres give the skin its elasticity, firmness and plump, youthful appearance. These substances are present in abundance in young skin, but as we age, slowly deplete giving way to sagging of the skin and fine lines. While they naturally deplete and are regenerated by the body, this regeneration process slows down as we age. Treatment with a dermal filler reintroduces hyaluronic acid into the skin, bringing back the youthful, plump appearance of the skin.
The different hyaluronic dermal fillers use slightly different technology to bind the different hyaluronic acid molecules, but all are very similar. The synthetic hyaluronic acid is non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid and is almost identical to naturally occurring hyaluronic acid.
How is the filler injected? Does it hurt?
Depending on the site being injected, either a local or a topical anaesthetic is used which significantly reduces any pain from the injection. Lips , lip lines, marionette lines and nasolabial folds are usually injected following a dental block, during which local anaesthetic (usually xylocaine) is injected in the mucosa of the mouth. The anaesthetic works almost immediately The filler then takes approximately 20 to 40 minutes to be injected depending on the complexity of the area being treated. For other areas, for example crows feet or cheeks, a topical anaesthetic is used, hereby an anaesthetic cream is applied to the area to be treated approximately 1 hour prior to the treatment.
How long do fillers last?
Fillers can last anywhere between 6 months to 2 years depending on the site and type of filler used. It also varies between individuals, with some people metabolizing the filler faster than others. Lips usually last about 9 months.
Are dermal fillers safe?
Dermal fillers are extremely safe. If injected by experienced clinicians, the injection of dermal fillers should be a relatively quick and pain-free experience. Commonly experienced side effects include swelling and bruising at the treated site. If these occur, they usually don’t last longer than a few days and are relatively minor. They are usually not significant enough for others to notice after 24 hrs. Lumps from the product can sometimes be felt, but with careful massage both at the time of treatment and for several days following treatment, these usually dissipate. Rarer side effects including allergic reaction to the product, granulomas (lumps of inflammation which are difficult to treat) have been reported but occur in less than 1 in 1000 cases.