A Look at How Dermal Fillers Work and What’s in Them

A Look at How Dermal Fillers Work and What’s in Them
A Look at How Dermal Fillers Work and What’s in Them

From the silicone injections popularized in the 40’s and 50’s, to the animal collagen derivative fillers of the 70’s (Zyderm, Zyplast), to the modern hyaluronic acid fillers used today, dermal fillers have come a long way from the humble fat-injecting beginnings of Dr. Gustav Adolf Neuber, also a big proponent of complete cleanliness in surgical rooms. Thanks!

Dermal fillers are currently one of the most popular and effective ways to fight the signs of aging, due to their precise and near immediate results, and the minimal downtime associated with them. But what exactly are they?

According to the FDA’s handy website, injectable dermal fillers are fillers approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be injected into the skin to help fill out wrinkles and other soft tissues that have succumbed to the ravages of Father Time. They are the go-to for treating unwanted wrinkles and folds (dreaded laugh lines, crow’s feet, nasolabial folds), and augmenting the loss of volume in the cheeks and lips, and in the hands of your board-certified plastic surgeon, they can do wonders to freshen up your appearance.

While there are a whole slew of FDA-approved dermal fillers available on the market — temporary, semi-permanent and permanent — they’re all produced from a rather small gamut of substances: human or highly purified animal collagen, hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), with the latter two being the only ones not derived from naturally occurring substances.

You’ll likely notice immediate improvements after treatment with optimal results being apparent up to 2 weeks later — this gives the filler time to absorb moisture and “settle” and also allows time for any common side effects like bruising, swelling, redness and itching to subside.

FDA-approved dermal fillers vary in the length of their results. Collagen-based fillers typically last between 2 - 4 months, hyaluronic acid-based fillers last between 6 -12 months (although Juvederm Voluma has been shown in clinical trials to last up to 18 months), semi-permanent fillers last between 12 - 18 months, and permanent fillers can last from 5+ years.

Being the safety-first advocates that we are, before we go any further, let’s talk about a few things dermal fillers cannot and should not do:

1. There is no (No!) dermal filler that is approved by the FDA to increase the size of your breasts or butt. If anyone suggests otherwise, run to your nearest computer and read this warning

2. Fillers cannot “literally” turn back the hands of time. Cosmetic procedures big and small always need to be tempered with a little something called appropriate expectations. Your doctor can help you decide what an appropriate and healthy expectation is to any procedure prior to doing it.

3. Dermal fillers do not come from any magical place on the internet or the interior of some shady person’s trunk in the Whole Food’s parking lot. No they do not. The only place to safely receive any dermal filler is at the capable hands of your board certified plastic surgeon inside the comfort of his/her office.

A visit with your doctor is the best place to start if you’re interested in dermal fillers. Visit the Smart Beauty Guide website to do your research. Remember: knowledge is power — and we know you love power as much as we do.

About the Author

Corrie Shenigo is obsessed. No seriously, she has a problem. Gleefully embracing all things even remotely related to being a modern woman, Ms. Shenigo dutifully reports her experiences and findings back to the fairer sexed masses – ‘cause gosh darn-it, they need to know. 

Yes, yes… she’s qualified. A former Editor at luxe mega-publisher Modern Luxury Media, Corrie has been published in Vogue, In-Style, Cosmopolitan, LemonTree and a whole slew of other print magazines, websites and beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogs, as well as her own blog BelleAesthete.com A skilled copywriter, Corrie’s clients have included noted beauty brands like Smashbox, CrushCrush Couture and Market America. She’s been known to moonlight as a red-carpet reporter for various celebrity news sources and somewhere in her studio lives a shiny B.A. in Mass Media-Journalism and Public Relations. 

Covering lifestyle, beauty and fashion isn’t just her job… it’s an adventure. So consider her the Christopher Columbus of women’s media – exploring, taking notes and reporting directly back to the Queen… ahem… that would be you.