Are Injectable Fillers Safe?

Study Reviews Documented Adverse Events with Fillers

Facial fillers are some of the most popular non-surgical cosmetic treatments available. Often combined with Botox, fillers can temporarily reduce the appearance of age-related wrinkles and folds, including nasolabial folds, lip lines, laugh lines, and marionette lines.

A recent study in Facial Plastic Surgery, a journal that’s part of the JAMA network, concluded that “complications are rare following treatment with injectable soft tissue fillers.”

Doctors Steven M. Daines and Edwin F. Williams performed over 2,000 injectable filler treatments in their private New York City practice, using a variety of different fillers. During their 4-year study, the most common side effect they found was nodule or granuloma formation. The filler with the highest complication rate, at 2.6 percent, was calcium hydroxylapatite.

How Do Fillers Work?

While many people still confuse Botox and fillers, these two medicine work in different ways. Rather than acting on the facial muscles to relax wrinkles, they fill it with a substance that boosts volume in the tissue for a period of time. Some fillers, such as poly-L-lactic acid, work by stimulating collagen deposition, which takes time and achieves results gradually. Others, such as the popular hylauronic acid, bind to water in your skin, and act as a cushioning agent. With any filler, the goal is to increase tissue volume and thereby augment the tissue that has become depleted and wrinkled.

6 Types of Wrinkle Fillers

Plastic surgeons offer a variety of different fillers. When it comes to choosing one, we consider your personal preferences and your cosmetic concerns, and then recommend a filler that can meet your needs. Here are the most common dermal fillers:

1. Fat grafting: this treatment uses your own body fat. After liposuction, fat is spun in a centrifuge to remove excess water. Through a series of micro-injections, the fat augments your facial tissues to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or folds.

2. Collagen fillers paved the way for many of today’s popular injectables. These fillers are sourced from human, bovine, or porcine tissue. As HA-based fillers like Juvederm and Restylane have gained popularity, collagen is used less often today. The results of a collagen filler injection last about 3 months.

3. Hyaluronic acid: Since FDA approval in 2003, non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal fillers have been extremely popular for non-invasive cosmetic applications. HA acts as a natural cell protector, hydrator, and cushioning agent in your tissues. It can be found in the soft connective tissue, skin, cartilage, joints, and the fluid around your eyes. Fillers that use HA include Juvederm, Restylane, Perlane, and Belotero. The results of a treatment last about 6 months to 1 year.

4. Calcium hydroxylapatite (or Radiesse) is a heavier dermal filler made with calcium-based microspheres suspended in a water-based gel – a mineral compound that is found naturally in teeth and bones. We use it to treat deep creases like the nasolabial folds and marionette lines. It may also augment the cheeks and other facial contours.

5. Poly-l-lactic acid (Sculptra Aesthetic) is a synthetic polymer that stimulates gradually collagen deposition. Treatment in the lower face can fill laugh lines or fill deep smile lines. Unlike other dermal fillers, polymer doesn’t produce instant results. A gradual process, involving multiple treatments, stimulates collagen production that corrects wrinkles, folds, and depleted tissue. The results are long-lasting.

6. PMMA fillers (ArteFill) consist of tiny PMMA microspheres that are suspended in a collagen gel. This semi-permanent filler is typically used to treat medium or deep wrinkles, especially nasolabial folds. It is currently being studied as a treatment for acne scars.

Learn More About Dermal Filler Safety

Still wondering about the safety of dermal fillers? Read more on our website about injectable products, and contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to discuss the benefits and risks of each wrinkle filler, so you can make an informed decision about treatment.

Photo: by Q Med