What are Dermal Fillers?
We’ve spoken about what Botox is and how it works and today we’re talking about Botox’s best friend- Dermal Fillers.
You probably know about the treatments that can be done with dermal fillers (if not, have a read here) but we haven’t actually talked about what dermal fillers are and how they work.
Today’s post was inspired by an episode of Botched we watched last night. Generally the show is based on plastic surgery, but this one involved dermal fillers in the face and the results were amazing.
It makes a change to see a nice story about dermal fillers for once, instead of the horror stories we are always reading about!
So, let’s get into this.
What are dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers are a gel that is injected into the skin to add volume back, smooth out deep lines and give plumpness where needed. They are usually made up of Hyaluronic Acid which is a naturally occurring substance in the body.
Hyaluronic Acid attracts and binds water to the skin, resulting in plumping of the area and added volume.
As we age, our skin loses elasticity and collagen which results in volume loss in the face and deep lines appearing. By injecting dermal filler, we can add the volume back to these areas and give an overall more youthful and smooth look to the skin.
What are the risks?
As with any injectable treatment, there are always risks involved.
Unfortunately, lack of regulation in the UK means non-medics are able to inject dermal fillers which is undoubtedly the biggest risk.
However, even with the most experienced practitioner there are certain side effects that can occur. The most common are redness, bruising and swelling. All of these generally subside within the first 2 weeks (usually much sooner).
One of the rare side effects that can occur is an occlusion. This is when the dermal filler blocks a blood vessel and prevents the blood from getting to the area it needs to be.
This can be serious and is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to go to a medical professional who would know what to do in this instance. If an occlusion occurs, the filler can be immediately dissolved and there is usually no lasting damage.
However, if this isn’t spotted and is left untreated this can lead to necrosis which is when the tissue begins to die because of the lack of blood supply. This is not something that a non-medic is able to deal with.
Whilst occlusions are very rare, your chances of getting one are increased substantially if the treatment is carried out by someone who does not know the detailed anatomy of the face.
More often than not, it is caused by poor placement of dermal filler. The chances of you getting an occlusion when being treated by a medical professional is significantly less.
How is it injected?
Dermal fillers are injected either with a needle or with a cannula. The exact method varies depending on your practitioner, the area being treated and the dermal filler being used.
A cannula is a thin, blunt tube that goes underneath the skin. An entry point is made with a needle and then the cannula is placed in. This method reduces your chances swelling and bruising and can be a much safer method.
However, that’s not to say that using a needle isn’t safe when it’s in the hands of an experienced practitioner.
Does it hurt?
Most dermal fillers these days have lidocaine mixed in with them. Lidocaine is the lovely stuff that numbs up the area so as the treatment goes on, it begins to do it’s magic.
Many practitioners also use a mix of ice packs and numbing cream on the skin before injecting.
For lips, it’s not uncommon to have a dental block which knocks out the sensation completely and results in a much more comfortable treatment.
Dermal fillers shouldn’t be painful. But they can be slightly uncomfortable at times which is why steps are taken to numb the area.
Cannulas are also much more comfortable as they do not cut through the skin like a needle, instead they glide through gently.
How long does it last?
The longevity of the treatment depends on a lot of different things. The two main variables are how quickly your body breaks down filler and what dermal filler is used.
Traditionally, dermal fillers last around 6-9 months. However, as the industry and products have progressed it is now possible to have a filler that will last up to 2 years. These fillers do generally hit harder on your bank account but they mean you won’t need to have the treatment done as often.
It’s important to remember that everybody is different. Just because Sarah 2 doors down had a filler that lasted 2 and half years, doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing that yours will last the same amount of time.
Are they permanent?
There are some permanent fillers out there (think Leslie Ash!) but it’s very uncommon to use a permanent one these days.
The risks associated with not being able to remove the filler if a complication occurs is just too high.
Hyaluronic Acid dermal fillers are not permanent. Your body gradually breaks them down and if needed, they can be dissolved.