Have you considered a procedure to add volume to the area under your eyes, in your cheeks, or in your lips? One popular method of gaining this volume is to have hyaluronic acid (or HA) fillers injected under your skin. You might already be familiar with hyaluronic acid because it’s an ingredient in some topical products that can plump up your skin thanks to the extra moisture they carry, but what this article will address is the injectable type of hyaluronic acid, known as HA fillers.
WHAT ARE HYALURONIC ACID FILLERS?
Hyaluronic acid is a type of sugar that naturally attracts water to itself. When it is injected under the skin, it causes fluids to fill the areas where it was injected, creating a natural plumped appearance. These fillers can be injected just about anywhere you have fine lines: around your lips to fill in smile lines, near your eyes to fill in crow’s feet, in the cheekbones to build volume, and so on.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HA FILLERS?
Yes. There are types with smaller and larger grains; these are appropriate for different areas of the face. (HA fillers can also be used in the hands, by the way.) While these fillers can be used off-label, they are made and marketed for specific uses. For example, one brand might be designed for smile lines, while a different brand can be designed for use in the lips. It is best to go to a licensed provider to have your procedure done; this will ensure that the proper type of filler is used and that it is injected in a way that won’t cause damage to the surrounding tissues.
WHAT ARE THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF HA FILLERS?
The main effect that people are often looking for is plumpness under the skin that leads to more volume or fewer wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid has other benefits, too. One of the first is that it stimulates collagen production. Collagen is what gives your skin elasticity and keeps it hydrated. As you age, your skin will produce less collagen over time. Since your HA fillers will boost that collagen production, your skin will benefit from the extended effects.
In addition to adding volume to the skin, your HA fillers will make your skin look and feel smoother and more supple. Your fine lines and wrinkles will fade, and you might look years younger. It can also prevent more lines from forming, which staves off the signs of aging even further.
The effects of hyaluronic acid fillers can last from six months to a year.
WHAT IS THE HA FILLER PROCESS LIKE?
The thought of having something injected into your facial skin might make you feel a bit squeamish, but the good news is that it is not generally a painful experience. Prior to your appointment, your provider will ask you what medications you’re on. If you take NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) or if you are on blood thinners, you might be asked to stop them temporarily. It is important that you don’t stop taking prescribed medication on your own, however. Your provider will talk to your primary care physician, cardiologist, or another specialist to ensure that it is safe for you to stop taking your medication for a period of time.
You might also be asked to abstain from alcohol for several days to two weeks before your appointment. This will help minimize bruising.
For the procedure itself, plan on spending about 30 minutes in the chair. The injections are delivered through a needle. The fillers are mixed with lidocaine, so you’ll experience some numbing rather than pain, though the experience might be uncomfortable.
After your procedure, you will need to continue avoiding alcohol for a few days. You might also be instructed to stay off of your medications; again, please be sure to follow your provider’s instructions carefully to minimize side effects as well as to maintain control of your underlying condition. You should also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This will encourage your skin to heal.
Your provider will talk to you about how often to ice the area to minimize swelling and bruising. It is important to use ice as directed. If you don’t use it long enough, you are more likely to swell, but if you use it too long or too often, you might experience skin damage.
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS FROM HA FILLERS?
Since the body makes hyaluronic acid on its own, the procedure is generally well-tolerated and there aren’t significant side effects. You could, of course, have an allergy to lidocaine or other substances in the filler. If this is the case, it will be treated. Your provider will tell you what signs to look for, depending on the location of your fillers.
Common mild side effects include swelling, bruising, and redness. This will improve over the first several days after the procedure. If you’re having discomfort, talk to your provider about what you can take that will not exacerbate bruising.
ARE HYALURONIC ACID FILLERS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Only you and your provider can decide whether hyaluronic acid fillers are the right choice for you. Some clients choose Botox injections instead. The main difference here is that Botox freezes the muscles temporarily, while HA fillers fill the skin with fluid temporarily. The second important difference is that Botox is not made naturally by the body. This means side effects are more likely to occur.
Talking to your provider about your goals as well as your current medical needs will help him or her to guide you in your decision. In some cases, HA fillers will not be recommended for you. You might not be able to stop taking blood thinners, for example, and you might be at risk of bleeding or bruising. In this case, your provider will be able to advise you as to whether it is still safe as well as what other procedures or products would help you achieve your appearance goals without putting your health at risk.
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