All About Dermal Fillers

Full cheeks, plump skin, defined jaw —could be genetics, could be dermal filler. The beautiful thing is, it’s hard to tell! Dermal fillers are a quick, safe, temporary way to restore youthful skin or sculpt the cheekbones you’ve dreamed of. And with an experienced, talented injector, the results are subtle and natural, never overdone. Thinking about some fillers? Here’s everything you need to know:

What are dermal fillers?

Dermal Fillers are injectable products used to plump, or contour the face. These products “fill in” hollows, lines, and wrinkles, or lift, sculpt, and contour the face. They are most commonly injected into the lips, cheeks, temples, forehead, hollows under the eyes, and in the nasolabial folds. Dermal fillers can also can be used to reshape the chin and sharpen the jawline.

The most commonly used fillers such as Stylage, Revanesse, Teosyal, and Restylane, come in a Hyuralonic Acid (HA) base. These fillers are non surgical and offer temporary results. Some HA fillers such as Redexis include collagen-stimulating ingredients.

While non-HA fillers are available, this article covers HA fillers only.


Why do I need dermal fillers?

As we age our bodies stop producing collagen and elastin, both of which help maintain skin firmness and fullness. We start losing collagen at about the age of 25 and by our late twenties, our bodies stop producing it all together. Over time, we deplete our body’s store of collagen and elastin, and our skin starts to wrinkle, sag, and lose its fullness.

Dermal fillers can restore the volume that’s lost with age, resulting in a refreshed, more youthful looking appearance. They can also contour and create definition, regardless of age. By adding volume, fillers “build” more prominent cheekbones, a stronger jawline, or whatever feature you want to enhance.

What’s in dermal fillers?

HA dermal fillers come in a base of hyaluronic acid (HA). Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by our body and adds plumpness to the skin. It can be found in our connective tissue, cartilage, and some nerve tissue. Because our bodies recognize HA as a natural substance, the chances of reaction are extremely low.

While the bulk of filler is made with hyaluronic acid, different brands contain different size particles, each of which deliver different results. Fillers with larger particles have the strength to “rebuild” thinned cheekbones, while fillers with smaller particles are better suited to correcting fine lines or plumping lips.

A well-trained injector will know the right kind of filler to use for your skin type, features, and desired results.

Are dermal fillers safe?

As with any medical procedure, dermal fillers are safe provided they’re injected by a licensed professional.

When it comes to fillers, experience is especially key. Because fillers change the shape of your face, it’s critical that the injector knows what kind of filler to use, how much to inject, and the right place for the injection. An aesthetic eye is also important when selecting an injector —you want to look natural, not overdone.

In addition to being safe, fillers are extremely flexible. In most cases, fillers can be adjusted or, if you’re really unhappy, dissolved altogether. There’s an injectable enzyme that dissolves hyaluronic acid. It just goes away.

You should always take the following steps to ensure the safety of your treatment:

  • Have your dermal fillers done in a medical setting with proper equipment and sterilization.
  • Do your research. Inexpensive fillers and treatments are usually too good to be true.
  • Be sure to use a brand name, FDA-approved product. Fillers should always come unopened, in properly labeled syringes.
  • Ask about the filler ingredients and make sure you don’t have any allergies.

What can be treated with dermal fillers?

Dermal fillers have a multitude of uses, but generally speaking they create volume. If there’s an area on your face that’s looking shallow, or a feature you’d like to build up, dermal fillers are your best bet. Common procedures include:

  • Lip augmentation
  • Cheek contouring
  • ProfiloPlasty (profile enhancement)
  • Chin contouring
  • Plumping under eye hollows
  • Filling in or softening recessed scars
  • Filling in or softening static wrinkles

Unlike Botox, which can only treat dynamic wrinkles (wrinkles caused by movement), dermal fillers are very effective for static wrinkles (wrinkles caused by sun damage or age.)

dermal fillers

What’s the difference between Botox and dermal fillers?

Dermal fillers and Botox are both used to reduce the signs of aging, but they function differently:

  • Botox: These injections paralyze muscles, causing wrinkles around the injection site to relax and soften.
  • Dermal fillers: These injections fill and plump wrinkles, or areas that have lost volume. They create a fuller, smoother look.

    Despite being different treatments, Botox and dermal fillers can be used together with great results. For example, Botox may be used to correct wrinkles in the eye area and dermal fillers to plump lips.


Before your treatment:

Before your dermal fillers, you’ll meet with us for a free consultation. We’ll get to know you and your medical history, and discuss the areas you wish to have treated. Because dermal fillers change the shape of your face, we want a firm understanding of the results you’re looking for. This way we can determine the best course of treatment.

If this is your first time getting dermal fillers, there are a few things to consider:

Are you taking any medications or supplements? Dermal fillers may react with some medications or supplements. The following medications should be stopped a week before your appointment and not be used until 3–5 days following your injections:

Aspirin, Gingko Biloba, Ginseng, Ibuprofen, Omega-3 fatty acids, St John’s Wort, and Vitamin E.

You should not get dermal fillers if you are on antibiotics or have any kind of infection.

You should also avoid “anti-aging” products such as Tretinoin (Retin-A), Retinols, Retinoids, and Glycolic Acid, as well as waxing, bleaching, tweezing, or hair removal cream on the treatment area or 3 days prior.

Are you pregnant? Specialists will not inject dermal fillers if you are pregnant or nursing. No studies have been done about the effect of dermal fillers on pregnant women, so specialists don’t know if they’re safe. Err on the side of caution and put off treatment until after your baby is born.

Have a dentist appointment? Dental visits, and tooth whitening/bleaching should be avoided 2-4 weeks before and after getting dermal fillers. Dental work may damage or contaminate your filler.

Taking Arnica for 4 days before treatment can greatly help with post-treatment bruising and swelling.

What can I expect during dermal filler treatment?

While botox can be injected in a few minutes, dermal fillers take a little bit longer. The whole procedure, depending on how many areas you’re having treated, takes about 30 minutes.

When a specialist injects dermal fillers, they’re “sculpting” your face.  They need to inject a little, look at your face, and inject a little more. Consider it an art form —if it’s done carefully, it will be a masterpiece.

Here’s what you can expect at your appointment:

  • We’ll review the treatment areas we discussed in our consultation.
  • Our specialist will clean the treatment areas to prepare them for the dermal filler injections.
  • We’ll offer ice, numbing cream, or local anesthetic if you’re concerned about pain at the injection site.
  • Using a micro needle, or cannula, our specialist will gradually inject fillers into the treatment area to achieve the desired effect.
  • You’ll check out the results to make sure they’re what you wanted! Remember that you’ll be a bit swollen.
  • Don’t forget the follow up appointment. Come back 10-14 days after treatment to make sure you look just as you wanted.

What’s the downtime after getting dermal fillers?

There’s a little bit of downtime after getting dermal fillers. You shouldn’t head back to work or make dinner plans that night. Most people experience minor swelling or bruising, which should go away within a few days. We recommend allowing at least a week to fully recover, so if you have a big event, keep this in mind.

Are there any side effects?

As with any medical procedure, there are potential side effects. Mild and temporary side effects from dermal fillers include: redness, bruising, and swelling. Some people also experience tenderness or itching at the injection site. These side effects usually go away on their own a few days after treatment.

If you experience severe pain, blanching of the skin, or any other serious issues after treatment, contact your doctor (and injector!) immediately.

Are there any special after care instructions?

After your dermal filler injections, you should:

  • Remain upright for 3–4 hours
  • Avoid rubbing or pressing on the affected area for 3–4 hours
  • Avoid other cosmetic treatments like peels or lasers for at least 24 hours
  • Avoid vigorous exercise or bending for 3-4 hours
  • Stay out of the sun until any redness and swelling subside
  • Sleep with your head propped up to reduce swelling

If you’re uncomfortable after your treatment, you can take Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen, and apply a cold compress — but don’t apply too much pressure! Arnica supplements may help reduce swelling. If you were taking Arnica prior to your treatment, continue taking it for at least a week after.

Some patients need or want an adjustment after treatment. Please allow 1-2 weeks after your injections before booking an appointment. Once the treatment has settled and swelling has gone away, we can see the true results and adjust as needed.

What kind of results can I expect?

Depending on the reason for your treatment, you can expect a reduction in wrinkles or creases, plumper skin, and fullness in areas that may have lost volume. Dermal fillers can also improve facial symmetry or create more defined features.

How soon will I see results?

The results from hyaluronic acid-based fillers are immediate, although it can take anywhere from 7-10 days to see optimal results. After a week or so, the treatment fully settles and swelling/redness subside, so you can see the “full effect.”

Are dermal fillers permanent?

While they’re long-lasting, the effects of injectables will eventually wear off. Results can last anywhere from four months to three years depending on the type of filler used. If you want the results to last forever, you’ll need maintenance treatments

How much do dermal fillers cost?

The average cost for dermal fillers is $500 – $700. The cost varies depending on the size of the treatment area and the type of filler you use.

The bottom line:

Dermal fillers are a great, temporary treatment for facial aging. They create subtle, but powerful changes in the look of your face, and they’re relatively long-lasting compared to other injectables. Overall, dermal fillers are a quick, safe, affordable (ish) way to make a notable difference in your appearance.