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What are dermal fillers?

By: Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, APRN on January 6, 2018 — Written by Jennifer Berry
Source: Medical News Today

Dermal fillers, sometimes called soft tissue fillers, are substances designed to be injected beneath the surface of the skin to add volume and fullness.


Substances used in dermal fillers include:

Calcium hydroxylapatite, which is a mineral-like compound found in bones.
Hyaluronic acid, which is found in some fluids and tissues in the body that add plumpness to the skin.
Polyalkylimide, a transparent gel that is compatible with the body.
Polylactic acid, which stimulates the skin to make more collagen.
Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA), a semi-permanent filler

Each one of these is designed to treat different signs of aging or other cosmetic issues.

The time they take to work, as well as how long they last, also vary. Some fillers last 6 months, while others last up to 2 years or longer.3

People should discuss their individual needs and expectations with their doctor to determine what filler would be the best choice for them.
What can dermal fillers correct?

Different types of dermal fillers are designed to treat varying signs of aging. Depending on the filler selected, they may:

plump up thinning lips
enhance or fill in shallow areas on the face
decrease or remove the shadow or wrinkle under the eyes caused by the lower eyelid
fill in or soften the look of recessed scars
fill in or soften static wrinkles, especially on the lower face

Static wrinkles include those around the mouth and along the cheeks. These wrinkles are usually a result of a loss of collagen and elasticity in the skin.
Dermal filler risks and considerations

Dermal fillers are considered to be safe but side effects can occur. The most common problems include:

skin rash, itching, or pimple-like eruptions
redness, bruising, bleeding, or swelling
undesirable appearance, such as asymmetry, lumps, or overcorrection of wrinkles
skin damage that causes a wound, infection, or scarring
ability to feel the filler substance under the skin
blindness or other vision problems
death of skin cells due to loss of blood flow to the area

The cost of dermal filler treatments varies and depends on the provider performing it, the area being treated and the type of filler selected. The ASPS 2016 statistics list the following cost per syringe:

calcium hydroxylapatite, such as Radiesse: $687
hyaluronic acid, such as Juvederm, Restylane, or Belotero: $644
polylactic acid, such as Sculptra: $773
polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres, such as Bellafill: $859

These costs may be more or less, depending on how much filler is used. Using less than a full syringe of filler may be cheaper than using a full syringe or more than one.

The provider may also charge additional fees for their professional services, office visit, or other costs.

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