Also known as dermal fillers and soft tissue fillers
Fillers are a type of minimally invasive aesthetic medicine used to add volume, alter the contours of the face, and fill in wrinkles. Common areas to inject fillers are in the face, neck, and hands, resulting in a fuller, smoother and more youthful appearance. Dermal fillers are among the most popular aesthetic procedures because they carry immediate results, very few risks and little recovery time.
When to Consider Fillers
- If you have deep lines around the eyes, brow or mouth
- If you would like to change the contours of your jaw or lips
- If you are interested in a minimally invasive procedure
Fillers are administered with a syringe to various areas on the face and head, including around the eyes, along the jaw, around the lips and in the forehead. The number, location and depth of the injections depend largely on the type of dermal fillers used and the desired results.
Some fillers contain a local anesthetic like lidocaine to enhance comfort during injection. Numbing cream may also be used.
Your surgeon will provide thorough pre-treatment instructions and answer any questions you may have. In the weeks before your injections, you’ll be asked to refrain from taking aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, St. John’s Wort, and any other medications that could cause bruising. Be sure to inform your physician of any medicines you are taking. If you have a history of cold sores, your surgeon may recommend taking Valtrex as a precaution. Your doctor may ask you to stop smoking before the procedure. Regardless of the type of procedure to be performed, hydration is very important before and after treatment for safe recovery.
Before going for a consultation, it would be a good idea to read our Injectable Safety Planning Guide.
There are three types of fillers commonly used: temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent. Hyaluronic acid-based fillers are temporary, while other types of fillers offer longer-lasting results.
- Collagen-Based Fillers: Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that adds strength and structure to the skin. Collagen was the first filler on the market, but the arrival of hyaluronic acid-based fillers has decreased its popularity.
- Hyaluronic Acid-Based Fillers Like collagen, hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance and primarily used to promote fullness and volume.
- Calcium Hydroxylapatite: Heavier and denser than hyaluronic acid, this filler is injected deeper, underneath the skin, and does not usually cause immune or allergic responses because the material is usually found in bones.
Longer-lasting dermal fillers typically contain thicker substances, such as the biodegradable synthetic filler known as poly-L-lactic acid. These types of soft tissue fillers are used to treat deeper facial lines, and though they offer semi-permanent results, it’s possible that you’ll need an occasional “touch up” several weeks after your initial injections.
Permanent fillers are made of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), which are microspheres that are not absorbed by the body. The filler also contains collagen and is only recommended for thick-skin areas such as the nasolabial folds. It is not recommended for any areas around the eyes or for the lips.
Silicone Injections – Patient Safety Warning
Silicone injections are an unsafe and unacceptable option to use as a filler. These injections are not FDA approved and often offered by unlicensed individuals and should be avoided. Always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon, preferably an ASAPS member, if you have questions about a particular type or brand.
What are the brand names for fillers?
There are a number of soft tissue filler brand names, but some of the most common are:
- Hyaluronic Acid-Based Fillers: Restylane, Juvederm, Perlane, PREVELLE Silk, Hydrelle, Belotero
- Collagen-Based Fillers: Cosmoplast, Cosmoderm, Evolence
- Semi-Permanent Fillers: Sculptra, Radiesse
- Permanent Fillers: ArteFill
It’s important to choose your surgeon or injector based on:
- Education, training, and certification
- Experience with filler injections
- Your comfort with him or her
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to Select an Injector.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area who is experienced in performing filler injections, you will need to make an office appointment to set up your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit.
During your initial consultation with your plastic surgeon, he or she will ask you about the areas on your face that concern you the most and what outcomes you’d most like to see. He or she will also evaluate the lines on your face to make recommendations. Together, you’ll decide on a type of dermal filler that will be best suited for your needs as well as injection sites to target. Once your surgeon or injector understands your goals, alternative and additional treatments may be considered (see related procedures).
Fillers can be administered the same day as your consultation because of their minimally invasive nature, low downtime, and safety record. Based on your goals, physical characteristics and many years of training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
- Filler injection recommendations that will give you the best outcome
- The outcomes that you can anticipate
- Your financial investment in the procedure
- Associated risks and complications
- What is needed to prepare for filler injections
- What you can expect to experience after fillers
- Share before-and-after photos of cases similar to yours and answer any questions.
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his or her background, to find out about plastic surgery safety, and to plan your procedure, visit the Injectable Safety Planning Guide (Planning Toolkit).
We developed these questions to help you:
- Make the most informed and intelligent decision about your procedure
- Confirm that you have the right surgeon for your procedure
- Make your initial consultation as rewarding as possible
- Understand your options, potential outcomes, and risks
It is important for you to take an active role in your procedure, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation.
- Am I a good candidate for filler injections?
- Who will be performing my filler injections? (If not the surgeon, then ask about licensing and qualifications.)
- Are the results I am seeking reasonable and realistic?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure?
- Do I need topical anesthetic?
- What will be the costs associated with my fillers treatment?
- What will you expect of me to get the best results?
- What kind of recovery period can I expect, and when can I resume normal activities?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- What are my options if the cosmetic outcome of my filler injections does not meet the goals we agreed on?
Immediately after injection
You will likely see the results of your injections immediately following the procedure, though it’s not uncommon for patients to experience swelling or minimal bruising in the area of the injection site. Your physician may give you an ice pack or cold compress to help stem swelling. The period of swelling will depend largely on the type of soft tissue filler you received, though most swelling, bruising, and redness should dissipate within one week to ten days.
Recovery time frame
One of the most enticing features of soft tissue fillers is their minimal recovery time. In the approximate week it takes for swelling and bruising to disappear, your doctor may advise you to avoid wearing hats or other headgear and only use small amounts of makeup.
The length of results from your dermal fillers is dependent on the type of injection you received:
- Collagen-Based Fillers: Results will last from two to four months.
- Hyaluronic Acid-Based Fillers: Results vary, though results of most common brands will last six to twelve months.
- Semi-Permanent Fillers: Results will last between twelve and eighteen months.
- Permanent Fillers: Results are typically still visible after five or more years.
The cost of filler injections varies from doctor to doctor and from one geographic area to another.
These numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments, or other miscellaneous costs related to fillers.
Filler injections are elective treatment, so insurance does not cover these costs. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training, and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training, and certifications.
As with any cosmetic procedure, patients must be in contact with their doctor during their recovery period. You should get in touch with your surgeon at the first sign of an abnormality or unexpected side effect. Prolonged pain and swelling could be a sign of infection or an allergic reaction.
There are very few risks associated with fillers, but you should contact your doctor if:
- Swelling, bruising, or redness does not dissipate after one week
- You experience acute pain near the injection site coupled with asymmetry, lasting more than seven to ten days after the procedure
- You develop any nodules or bumps in or around injected areas or any uneven areas around the skin
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your filler injection procedure.