Dermal fillers (usually just called fillers) can be considered to be “volumizers” as they add volume to the treated areas. This is usually to replace lost volume, but they are often also used to enhance facial features such as the cheeks or lips by creating volume that may not ever have been there. Fillers, not Botox®, are the culprits responsible for Kim Kardashian’s lips.
The idea of “volumising” facial features was first explored in the 1800s where transplanted fat was used to correct a facial deformity. This procedure, although greatly modified, is still used to this day by Plastic Surgeons. Fat is the ideal filler as it is your own, meaning that your body cannot reject it and it lasts far longer than any foreign substance. It also feels natural, and due to the stem cells found in all our fat, fat transplantation causes improvement in the overlying skin quality after the procedure. The downside of using your own fat instead of synthetic fillers is that this is a surgical procedure that can be painful and requires some recovery time.
The search continued to find a synthetic dermal filler that was safe, non-allergenic, easy to inject, and could be used in an outpatient setting, meaning there should be little to know down-time after the injection. After a lot of research the FDA finally approved a filler made of bovine (cow) collagen. This filler was the best so far, but still left a lot to be desired and the search for the ideal filler continued.
The first Hyaluronic Acid (HA) filler was approved by the FDA in 2003. HA is a substance that occurs naturally in almost all living things. The HA used in dermal fillers is derived from bacteria, meaning that it is not animal based and cannot produce an allergic reaction. This is useful in that patients do not have to have allergy testing before an injection. Using HA also means that your body knows how to break down the product, and so HA fillers while longer-lasting than collagen-based fillers are still non-permanent and will disappear between 9 and 18 months post-injection.
Many of the fillers available today are pre-mixed with a local anaesthetic, meaning that the treatment causes very little pain. HA fillers are quick and easy to inject, and many patients are able to return to work directly after the treatment. They are also affordable and can be used for a host of volume-loss problems from filling fine lines to large areas of the face. Fillers also give immediate results that settle and enhance over the 2 weeks following injection. They are also said to induce your body’s own collagen, meaning that you may see an improvement in the quality of your skin months after a treatment.
Fillers can give truly beautiful results that will make you look refreshed without any giveaways that you’ve had a procedure. In South Africa they should only ever be injected by a qualified and registered doctor.