Facial fillers are substances that temporarily soften wrinkles when injected into your skin. Injection of a facial filler is generally an outpatient procedure that's done under local anesthesia. 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 factors such as the type of wrinkle and filler used.
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 about six months to one year.
- 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 one year when used for contouring and three years when used to fill wrinkles.
- Fat grafting. Fat is removed from the lower abdomen or other areas through liposuction and then injected through small incisions into your cheek, temple, lips or forehead. The effects might be permanent. But achieving the desired results usually requires more than one session of injections, as well as overfilling the site to compensate for the body's reabsorption of the fat.
- Permanent soft tissue filler (Artefill). 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). The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of this filler for people with HIV who have localized loss of fat tissue (lipoatrophy). Two or three injections are usually required. The effects last up to two years.
As with any operation, injecting facial filler for wrinkles has risks, including:
- Allergic reaction at the injection site or throughout the body
- Bleeding or bruising at the injection site
- Irregularities in the surface, contours and firmness of the skin
- Rarely, damage to blood vessels
Facial fillers generally aren't used for people whose immune systems are suppressed or who take blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants).