Overview

Facial fillers are substances injected into the skin to smooth wrinkles and make them less noticeable. Injection of a facial filler is generally an outpatient procedure that's done with numbing medication. The procedure takes up to an hour.

You might have mild discomfort, bruising and swelling for up to a week. After the swelling goes down, you might need a touch-up injection for best results. How long the effect lasts depends on the type of wrinkle and filler, among other factors.

Facial fillers, or soft tissue fillers, generally aren't used for people who have suppressed immune systems or who take blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants).

Types of facial fillers

Facial fillers include:

  • Hyaluronic acid (Restylane, Juvederm, others). This natural component of the skin's connective tissue is the most common filler used for wrinkles. The results typically last 6 to 12 months.
  • Calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse). This filler is used to contour the jaw line, restore volume in the cheeks, and treat deeper wrinkles and skin folds. The results last up to a year when used for contouring and 3 years when used to fill wrinkles.
  • Fat grafting. With this method, fat is removed from the lower abdomen or other area through liposuction. It is then injected through small incisions into the cheek, temple, lips or forehead. The effects might be permanent. But achieving the desired results usually requires more than one session as well as overfilling the site because the body reabsorbs some of the fat.
  • Permanent soft tissue filler (Bellafill). This filler is used to smooth deep wrinkles around the mouth. The body can't absorb this type of filler, so it doesn't require reinjection. Permanent soft tissue filler generally isn't recommended as a first-time facial filler treatment.
  • Poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra). This product is used to restore facial volume lost due to aging or illness. Two or three sessions are usually required. The effects last up to two years.

Risks

As with any procedure, injecting facial filler for wrinkles has risks, including:

  • Allergic reaction at the injection site or throughout the body
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Changes in skin color (postinflammatory hyperpigmentation) on brown or Black skin
  • Mild pain
  • Bleeding or bruising at the injection site
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Irregularities in the surface, contours and firmness of the skin
  • Rarely, blood vessel damage

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Facial fillers for wrinkles care at Mayo Clinic

April 30, 2022
  1. AskMayoExpert. Soft tissue fillers and other injectables. Mayo Clinic; 2020.
  2. Carruthers A, et al. Injectable soft tissue fillers: Overview of clinical use. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.
  3. Rubin JP, et al. Injectables and resurfacing techniques: Soft-tissue fillers. In: Plastic Surgery: Volume 2: Aesthetic Surgery. 4th ed. London, England: Elsevier; 2018. https://clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.
  4. Kelly AP, et al., eds. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation/periorbital hyperpigmentation. In: Taylor and Kelley's Dermatology for Skin of Color. 2nd ed. McGraw Hill; 2016. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Dec. 20, 2021.
  5. Office of Patient Education. Smoothing Wrinkles and Scars by Soft Tissue Augmentation. Mayo Clinic; 2008.
  6. Avram M, et al., eds. Facial rejuvenation. In: Procedural Dermatology. McGraw Hill Education; 2015.
  7. Fillers: FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/wrinkles/fillers-faqs. Accessed Dec. 21, 2021.

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