You can’t pick up a magazine anymore without seeing a picture of at least one person who has used facial fillers to perfect their look. And you know what? That’s okay!
The truth is that facial fillers no longer carry the heavy stigma they once did. What used to be a hush-hush topic of conversation between girlfriends has grown into something pretty much everyone just accepts as part of everyday life. And so many people fall in love with their results, all without ever having to go under the knife.
But here’s the thing… just because we’re normalizing facial fillers doesn’t mean they’re any easier for the average person to understand. At the end of the day, they are still medical products that should be used with care and great consideration, and there’s an awful lot of options available to choose from.
This is your guide to all the best options.
CONTAINS: Calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA)
Products like Radiesse contain a substance known as calcium hydroxylapatite. If you’re thinking that sounds oddly similar to the calcium found in dairy, you’re partially right; it is, in fact, the same mineral with a few molecular differences. In “plain English,” you might say it’s closely related, but not exactly the same.
Radiesse’s main benefit is that it’s entirely free from animal products. In fact, it’s synthesized almost entirely from a specific kind of calcium known to be very well tolerated in the human body. It is particularly effective when people want to achieve subtle or natural results.
LITTLE-KNOWN RADIESSE FACT
Radiesse was first used in dental and reconstructive surgeries to help patients restore appearance after injuries.
JUVEDERM, ELEVESS, RESTYLANE
CONTAINS: Hyaluronic acid
Juvederm, Elevess, and Restylane may all be unique brands with their own unique list of products, but they all contain the same base ingredient: hyaluronic acid. This is the same ingredient found in many facials, treatment masks, and overnight moisturizes. When injected into or under the skin, it adds volume, draws in fluid, and encourages your body’s own natural ability to produce collagen.
These three filler brands are well-tolerated because the main ingredient within them already occurs naturally within the human body. This lessens the risk of an allergic reaction, irritation, or immune response.
We mentioned that each brand offers a variety of products and sub-brands. Each of these offers a slightly different benefit or some kind of unique difference that may make it more or less appropriate for your needs. For example, Juvederm Voluma works best for smoothing fine lines on the face, while Juvederm Ultra XC is better for adding volume to the upper and lower lips. Your injector can help you understand these differences
LITTLE-KNOWN HYALURONIC ACID FILLERS FACT
HA is also used to relieve joint pain from arthritis. Doctors inject it directly into the joint to add cushioning and ease friction.
Aquamid isn’t used quite as often as some other facial fillers, but it does carry a few specific and very special benefits: It’s biocompatible. In layman’s terms, that means it almost never causes a reaction when introduced to human tissue.
The way Aquamid functions is also different from other fillers. Instead of adding volume and producing an immediate result, it triggers the body to rapidly produce collagen across the surface of the injectable gel formula. This produces a nearly permanent result with a much more natural appearance.
LITTLE-KNOWN AQUAMID FACT
Aquamid is one of the only fillers that won’t interfere with medical imaging, such as x-ray machines and MRIs. This might make it a good choice for patients who have a specific need for regular imaging of the face.
CONTAINS: Polylactic acid
Sculptra is considered semi-permanent, but most patients require at least a few sessions to get the result “just right.” It takes several weeks for your body to scale up collagen production in response to the formula, so your injector may recommend staggered sessions over the course of several months. Still, many patients find they are able to eventually stop treatments, yet retain their results long-term.
CONTAINS: Bovine collagen and polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA)
Bellafill is currently the only FDA-approved permanent dermal filler available to the US market. It contains thousands of infinitesimally tiny microspheres suspended in a solution of animal-sourced collagen. This unique design makes it better at adding volume in places where a significant or very pronounced adjustment is needed, such as under or inside of deep acne scars and pits.
Because results can be so intense, Bellafill should only be delivered by someone who has extensive experience with both medical aesthetics and the product itself. Think of it like the “big guns” of the filler world.
The main key to a good result with Bellafill is “low and slow.” Your injector may under-dose you now, yet offer the ability to come back in three months for a booster. This is ideal because overdosing can cause the formula to become visibly bumpy under the skin.
LITTLE-KNOWN BELLAFILL FACT
Bellafill’s ability to fill deep grooves and add significant volume isn’t new. In fact, the main ingredient, PMMA, was originally created for use in surgical implants.
There are a few other formulas on the market and several more are currently undergoing clinical trials. The best advice we can give you to help you decide which is best for your needs is not to make that decision alone. Instead, schedule a consultation at a medical spa and tell them about your goals. Facial filler selection should always be individualized – there are no cookie cutter solutions here.