Remember the baby fat of your youth? Those round cheeks that you perhaps lamented at the time? You may have noticed that baby fat is long gone—and you’re not alone. “As we age, we lose bone, fat and elasticity in the face and the skin, which contributes to topographical changes in the face in the form of wrinkles and contour changes,” says Dr. Janelle Vega, board-certified dermatologist at Mayoral Dermatology in Coral Gables, Florida. The good news: You can plump your skin back to its former self with artful use of fillers. You just need to find the best fillers for your face first!
What are fillers?
Unlike Botox, which reduces facial expressions by limiting muscle movements, fillers act as volumizers that physically fill in wrinkles and contours both directly and indirectly. Depending on the approach your skin professional recommends, fillers can be injected directly into a wrinkle or strategically placed near trouble areas to create structural support. “This latter approach helps to re-drape the skin and minimize wrinkles indirectly,” she says. Speaking with a service provider about your goals will help you choose which path to take.
Why choose fillers?
If your aim is to recapture your youth, fillers can help you do so in a non-invasive (read: zero surgery) way. She also points to versatility a major selling point: “They can be used to replace anatomic volume loss that occurs over time by recreating a person’s facial structure as it was at a younger age. They can also be used to improve structural deficiencies (i.e. a small chin or weak cheekbones) to create an overall more harmonious appearance. We also use fillers to enhance areas such as the lips to correct asymmetries or create more overall fullness.”
What should you expect from fillers?
Begin with a consultation with your service provider to discuss your expectations and goals. After you initial consultation, a treatment session typically starts with a topical anesthetic to reduce discomfort and can take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes. Because some swelling and mild bruising may occur (especially in the under-eye area or the lips), you may want to schedule your filler session when you can enjoy some downtime.
Which filler is best for you?
Not all fillers act alike—they’re made of different substances, last different lengths of time and grant different benefits. Here, we break down what you need to know:
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a type of naturally-occurring sugar found in the skin that attracts and holds water. When used in fillers, it does it all. It can volumize cheeks, chin, the under-eye area, lips, and jawline. Plus, the effects can last anywhere from six months to two years—not bad in terms of maintenance.
HA fillers operate by drawing water molecules to the injection area to create volume. Common side effects include bruising, swelling and possible lumps or bumps. “In rare cases, one can have an allergic reaction to the filler or have excess swelling. Filler could possibly enter the blood vessels, which can cause tissue loss and in the worst cases blindness, but this is very rare,” Dr. Vega says. HA filler brands to look out for include Restylane, Juvederm and Teoxane product lines, Belotero, and Versa.
Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA)
Calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA) is biocompatible with human tissue and acts as a stimulator, encouraging your own natural collagen production. The doctor points to Radiesse, which contains CaHA microspheres suspended in an injectable gel. This filler provides an immediate volumizing effect with results that last up to a year. CaHA fillers also offer collagen stimulation that can help prolong results. “Anyone with volume loss is a good candidate for this filler, and it’s particularly good at mimicking bone,” she says, noting that candidates looking to add sharper contours to their face would benefit from Radiesse. Side effects are rare, and mimic those of HA fillers.
Known by the brand name Sculptra Aesthetic, Poly-L-Lactic Acid (PLLA), is a biostimulatory filler containing a lactic acid derivative to add volume and improve skin texture. Desired effects require multiple sessions (often three to four sessions at least four weeks apart) and aftercare includes massage after each treatment—five minutes, five times a day for five days. But, effects last up to 25 months.
“In general, less product is needed to achieve overall improvement of the face. The results are long-lasting and help maintain facial structure over time—and sometimes improve it—resulting in a ‘Benjamin Button effect’ or reverse aging,” explains Dr. Vega. Sculptra Aesthetic best tackles larger areas, such as the temples, cheeks, lateral parts of the face, jawline and the nasolabial folds. “We avoid using it in high-movement areas, such as around the mouth, eyes, and lips,” she concedes. Side effects are the same as with other fillers.
The best fillers for your face will rest with your skin professional’s advice and your overall goals, so please consult with your doctor before making any decisions. But before you take the leap, do your research for a reputable service provider. “I always recommend choosing a physician who is board-certified in dermatology, plastic surgery, oculoplastics or facial plastic surgery to ensure you are in the safest hands possible,” she stresses. “Board-certified physicians in these specialty areas are the best equipped to manage any potential complications.”