A dermal filler can do a lot of things. Fillers can smooth lines and wrinkles, restore lost volume and even fill in scars. Because fillers can do so much, there are lots of different types, formulas, and options available. That’s a good thing, but it can be overwhelming! So how do you choose? Understanding the differences between each type of injectable filler can help you pick the filler that will work best for you.
Different Fillers Contain Different Ingredients
Generally speaking, dermal fillers contain either natural or synthetic ingredients. What’s in the filler plays a big role in determining what it will do once it’s injected into the skin. A filler’s ingredients also determine where on the face it is injected.
One of the most common ingredients you’ll see in fillers is hyaluronic acid. The human body naturally produces hyaluronic acid. It’s found between the joints, in the eyes, and in the skin. It’s not actually an acid but is instead a type of sugar. Hyaluronic acid’s claim to fame is that it’s able to absorb and retain a large amount of moisture. A single gram of HA can pull in up to six liters of water.
It’s HA’s moisture-attracting and trapping abilities that make it a popular ingredient in fillers. When used in a dermal filler, HA can smooth fine lines and wrinkles, add volume to the lips or plump up sunken cheeks.
Calcium hydroxylapatite is another common dermal filler ingredient. You’ll find it in Radiesse, a filler that’s often used to treat deep lines and creases on the face. While HA is a type of sugar, calcium hydroxylapatite is a synthetic version of the material that makes up human bones. It’s considerably heavier than HA, which is why it’s often used to treat lines that are more deeply etched into the skin.
Some fillers, notably Sculptra, contain poly-L-lactic acid. Poly-L-lactic acid is a synthetic ingredient that’s often used to restore lost volume to the cheeks. It can also help fill in deep lines and creases. Poly-L-lactic acid doesn’t add instant volume like HA and calcium hydroxylapatite. Instead, it stimulates collagen production, which helps to rejuvenate the skin naturally.
Not All Hyaluronic Acid Fillers Are the Same
Hyaluronic acid is by far the most common ingredient in dermal fillers. It’s the ingredient in Beletero, the Juvederm family of injectables, Perlane and Restylane.
There are so many different hyaluronic acid filler options because not all HA fillers are the same. Some use a thin, lightweight version of HA. These fillers are usually ideal for people who want to reduce the appearance of very fine, thin lines, usually near the surface of the skin. Belotero is an example of a filler that contains a lightweight form of HA.
In contrast, Juvederm Voluma contains a very thick and viscous version of HA. It was the first filler to get FDA approval for adding volume to the cheek area. The thickness of the HA in Juvederm Voluma allows it to lift and volumize the cheeks. Because the filler is so thick and heavy, it also takes longer to break down. Results from an injection of Juvederm Voluma can last for up to two years, compared to about six months for Belotero.
HA can also be specially formulated for use in specific areas. For example, the ingredient has long been a popular choice for adding volume to the lips. As a result, certain fillers, such as Juvederm Volbella, contain a version of the HA that is designed to produce smooth, long-lasting results.
Filler vs. Botox – What’s the Difference?
One last thing to know when you’re choosing a filler: Not all injectables are necessarily fillers. For example, Botox and Dysport are both injectables. But neither one contains ingredients that will “fill” in lines or restore lost volume. Instead, Botox and related injectables work by reducing nerve signals to certain muscles. They keep you from making the very small facial movements that can contribute to lines and wrinkles.
The type of lines Botox treats are different from the ones fillers focus on. Juvederm, Radiesse and other fillers work on lines that are created when your body’s collagen production slows down and as a result of the effects of gravity. Botox and Dysport work on lines that form as a result of repeated muscle movements over time, such as the two vertical lines that can form between the eyebrows or the horizontal lines that can develop across the forehead.
Dr. Shervin Naderi offers a selection of dermal fillers and injectables at his practice in Virginia. To learn more about the different fillers available and to see which one is right for you, call 703-481-0002 (Reston, VA Office) or 301-222-2020 (Chevy Chase, MD). You can also contact us online for more information.