Types of Dermal Fillers
What Are Dermal Fillers?
Dermal fillers are medical cosmetic devices that can help restore a youthful appearance to the skin and can also reshape facial contours. Cosmetic filler injections are becoming an increasingly popular procedure thanks to the non-invasive nature of treatment and the low risk of complications.
As the face naturally loses subcutaneous fat due to the aging process, lines and wrinkles become more apparent. Aging also causes the facial skin to stretch, highlighting the loss of volume. Dermal fillers can help correct these issues.
Different Types of Dermal Fillers
There are a number of different dermal filler products currently on the market. However, there are only a few different materials that cosmetic fillers are made from, though every company has their own formulation. Different types of dermal fillers can produce different results, so it is important to understand how each one functions. What may work for one patient may not work for another; medical practitioners would o well to keep this in mind and always seek to understand the desired results of their patients.
Though dermal fillers are often used to improve the appearance of wrinkles, they are capable of much more. Depending on the filler used, plastic surgeons and other medical professionals can add volume, correct acne and facial scars, plump and reshape the lips, and more.
Here are some of the most popular types of dermal fillers and what they can help patients achieve:
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
- Some facial scars, including burns and acne scars
- Cheek depressions
- Wrinkles at the corners of the eyes (crow’s feet)
- Lines from the side of the nose to the corner of the mouth (nasolabial fold)
- Lines between the brows (frown lines)
- Lines at the corner of the mouth (marionette lines)
- Defined lip border
- Vertical lines at the mouth (smoker’s lines)
- Lines across the forehead (worry lines)
Please note that each hyaluronic acid-based filler has its own specific indications and therefore may not be able to treat all the aforementioned conditions.
Polylactic Acid (PLA)
Polylactic acid is a synthetic material that has been used for decades in medical sutures. When used in dermal fillers, PLA helps stimulate the production of collagen, which leads to long-lasting results. Polylactic acid is non-toxic and biodegradable and functions as a stimulator. Unlike hyaluronic acid fillers, which provide immediate results, PLA fillers can take four to six weeks for their effects to appear.
The most popular PLA filler brand is Sculptra. For best results with a PLA filler, patients typically require three separate injection sessions spaced a month apart. Polylactic acid fillers are considered semi-permanent, so patients may require touch ups as results fade over time.
Polylactic acid fillers can be used to do the following:
- Fill laugh lines
- Plump thin lips
- Improve deep nasolabial folds
Calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHa) is another naturally occurring substance that can be used in dermal fillers. The substance, which is found in human bones, is a compound similar to a mineral. Calcium hydroxylapatite has been used in dentistry and reconstructive surgery for many years, so it has a proven safety record. For fillers, it is produced biosynthetically. This means that no animals or animal products are used in the production of the substance, so there is a lower risk that any CaHa filler would cause an allergic reaction. Patients like calcium hydroxylapatite fillers because they provide a very natural-looking result and have a low chance of side effects.
Radiesse is the most popular calcium hydroxylapatite dermal filler on the market. Its consistency is much thicker than most hyaluronic acid fillers, which allows it to last longer—typically around 12 months. Calcium hydroxylapatite has been reported to stimulate collagen production.
This type of filler has been used for the following purposes:
- Fill moderate-to-severe facial creases (e.g., nasolabial folds, marionette lines, frown lines)
- Increase fullness in cheeks and other facial contours
- Increase volume to address facial wasting
Polyalkylimide is a biocompatible gel that integrates nicely with human tissue, which means there is a low risk of allergic reaction. In dermal fillers, it is a semi-permanent material that also has stimulating properties. After the gel is injected, collagen forms around the filler in the span of a month, meaning optimal effects won’t be achieve until four to six weeks after the procedure. Eventually, the gel will be completely surrounded by collagen.
The most popular polyalkylimide filler is Aquamid, which is ideal for injecting large volumes of filler at once. If patients are unhappy with the results of a polyalkylimide dermal filler, the gel can be removed.
This type of filler has been used for the following actions:
- Improve deep wrinkles (nasolabial folds)
- Treat depressed scars
- Increase volume in thin lips
- Increase facial volume and facial wasting
- Improve cheekbones and jawline
It is important for injectors to learn about the different types of dermal fillers so that they can provide their patients with the best possible results. It is also crucial that injectors remember that each type of filler is particularly suited for treating certain conditions and that a patient’s goals should always be taken into account.