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How safe are dermal fillers?

Low Risk, High Reward for Dermal Fillers

Elizabeth Roche Facial Injection

Since the introduction and F.D.A. approval of injectable collagen in 1981, dermal fillers have provided millions of men and women an easy, safe, and almost-instant way to plump lines and lift sagging skin.

Collagen, the original dermal filler, is one of the softest, most pliable fillers, making it ideal to plump lips, smooth under-eye hollows, and correct fine lines and wrinkles. However, because it requires allergy testing and the results only last up to three months, this type of dermal filler has fallen out of use.  As with all fillers, common risks could include light bruising at the injection site, particularly if the patient is a smoker or on blood-thinning medication; and mild pain during the treatment itself, which can be alleviated with ice or a numbing cream.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers were introduced next, over a decade ago.  Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally throughout the body, most notably in connective tissue and skin. HA fillers do not require allergy testing for this reason.  Belotero, a filler that has been around for about three years and a newly released HA dermal filler in the United States called Restylane Silk, is most comparable to collagen in that it can correct very fine lines, particularly around the delicate eye area. Juvederm Ultra and Restylane plump lips, while Juvederm Ultra Plus, Perlane and Voluma are best suited for deep lines and folds.  Depending on where the filler is injected, patients can see results that last over a year. HA fillers are formulated with different crosslinking of the molecules which result in a longer lasting treatment than collagen.

Dermal fillers like Radiesse and Sculptra Aesthetic are unique. Radiesse is created from calcium microspheres, a biocompatible substance that is found naturally in the body. It is best suited to plump cheeks and to correct moderate to severe lines and folds, and lasts about a year. Sculptra Aesthetic is created from the same material as dissolvable sutures, poly-L-lactic acid. It stimulates your body to create its own collagen. The product is broken down over time and what is left is a new lattice work of your own collagen fibers. Used more as an overall facial volumizer, Sculptra Aesthetic has been dubbed the “liquid face lift.” One of the benefits patients find is that because Sculptra requires repeat visits to slowly build your own natural collagen, they gradually undergo a subtle transformation. At the end of the three or four treatment sessions, spaced 6-8 weeks apart, the end result can last two years or more.Neither Radiesse nor Sculptra require an allergy test.

Regardless of the dermal filler chosen, significant risks, such as infection, are extremely rare, particularly when injected by trained professionals. Bruising, if it does occur, typically resolves within ten days. Swelling is often gone in one or two days. Most of the time, when dermal fillers are injected, there are little to no risks if done by a trained professional who injects often. A rare but serious risk that can occur is when the filler is inadvertently  injected into a vessel such as a vein or an artery. Skin necrosis and blindness have been reported to occur. It is important that if this does occur it is recognized and immediately treated, which underlines the importance of seeking a trained, experienced professional for your injection. Do not ever have dermal fillers injected by someone at a house party or hair salon that is not equipped to handle the rare but potentially serious complications.

Every day, thousands of dermal filler treatments are being performed with little to no adverse outcome and amazing results and benefits. Collagen and Belotero have been dubbed “media fillers” because television and film professionals can appear on-camera immediately after leaving their treatment, looking refreshed, with no one the wiser! All of the dermal fillers can offer immediate, natural-looking, and long-lasting improvement at a very low risk.

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