5 Things to Know About Dermal Fillers

ONLY SKIN DEEP. Dawn Gibbs goes through the meat and potatoes of the most popular quick fix for facial aesthetics today: Dermal fillers


5 things to know dermal fillers


Dermal fillers are injectable substances used to plump up skin, fill in lines and wrinkles, help correct recessed scars,
and rejuvenate the face. They are commonly used to plump up the lips and remove deep creases that run from the nose to the corners of the mouth, and creases between the eyebrows.

The injections are an excellent alternative to facelifts and for patients who want to look younger and fresher but don’t want the cost or recovery time of surgery.



There are a few different types of dermal fillers, each made of different ingredients. The three most popular types of dermal fillers are fat, collagen and hyaluronic acid. Each of these fillers lasts about a year.

  • Human Fat
    The human fat used in dermal filler injections is analogous, meaning it comes from your own body. The surgeon will take fat from an area like your abdomen or thighs, clean it, and then inject it into the trouble spots on your face. This is an excellent option for people with severe allergies because your body won’t react to your own tissue. Some of the injected fat will be reabsorbed, so the surgeon will have to initially overfill the injection site. This will make the area look swollen for a few days, until the body absorbs the excess.
  • Collagen
    Collagen is a protein found in cow-derived products or in human skin, and is commonly used to plump up the lips. It can also be used to counteract the look of mild to moderate creases in the face. It’s a popular dermal filler option for
    patients who are maintaining their appearance after a facelift or other facial plastic surgeries. Patients who are using cow-derived collagen (bovine collagen) will need to undergo pre-treatment allergy testing.
  • Hyaluronic Acid
    Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in human connective tissues and around the eyes. When used as a cosmetic injectable, hyaluronic acid acts as a cushion that inflates the tissues, while simultaneously drawing water to the surface of the skin. It can be used in the cheek areas to replace lost fat and can also be used to fill in lines, wrinkles and folds.



A good candidate for dermal fillers will have a positive outlook and realistic expectations of the outcome. He or she will be undergoing dermal filler injections for personal reasons, and not to satisfy anyone else.

There is no “right” age for getting dermal fillers, but most patients are between the ages of 30 and 60. Older patients
may find that their skin has lost enough elasticity that they don’t get the results they want.



“Dermal fillers were the second most popular non-surgical cosmetic treatment in 2011, just after Botox injections”




Your surgeon will review your medical history to make sure you aren’t on any medications or undergoing any treatments that might interfere with the injections. He will evaluate your skin and help you decide which filler is right for you.

If you decide on a filler made from animal products, you may need to undergo allergy tests to make sure you won’t have any adverse reactions to the injections. The surgeon will also go over the risks and have you sign a letter of consent.



Dermal filler injections are usually a quick and easy procedure that you can undergo in the doctor’s office. You won’t be put under anesthesia, so you can drive yourself home afterward.

When you come in for your appointment, the surgeon will make small marks on your face to map out where the injections are going to go. Your skin will be cleaned, and there may be a topical numbing cream applied to the injection site. Some fillers are also mixed with painkiller to help with discomfort.

The injections are then administered, following the marks the surgeon made. When he is done, the marks will be removed. Some patients might be given a cold compress to help with any swelling that might occur.



There is no real downtime after a dermal filler treatment, and you can return to your normal routine immediately after your appointment. You might notice some redness, bruising or swelling, which will dissipate within 48 hours.

Avoid rubbing or massaging the injection site. If you are getting an injection of human fat, there will be an “overfilled” look that will begin to fade within a few days. Your recovery will be different if you had liposuction to harvest the donor fat.

Once the filler settles, the results will last up to one year.



Dermal fillers were the second-most popular non-surgical cosmetic treatment in 2011 (just after Botox injections). There are very few complications associated with the procedure.

The risks that do exist include infection, bruising, swelling, itching, migration of the filler, rashes or dissatisfaction with the results.




Dawn Gibbs writes for NOVA Plastic Surgery (novaplasticsurgery.com), a state-of-the-art plastic surgery office in North Virginia, USA.