DERMAL FILLERS OVERVIEW
Dermal fillers or fillers are substances such as hyaluronic acid that plump and fill out the skin. This is principally designed to reduce wrinkles; increase volume in cheeks and/or lips; as well as fill out and erase deep furrows and wrinkles; and it can result in a fresher, more rested-looking face. Facial lines and folds such as naso-labial and marionette lines are visibly reduced if not eliminated by dermal fillers. They are also used to fill out cheeks and lips. There are many fillers on the market and they can be categorised by their contents. Major brands are Juvederm, Restylane, Perlane, Prevelle Silk, Elevesse, and Belotero.
The major constituent of fillers is usually hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a carbohydrate polymer, often described as “goo”. Synovial fluid that lubricates the joints contains large quantities of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is also naturally found in the skin. It is involved in the process of tissue repair. Interestingly Hyaluronic acid is a known “tumour marker” and cancer doctors use it to monitor the progression of cancers such as prostate and breast cancer. Hyaluronic Acid is negatively affected by UVB and is degraded by sunburn.
Granulomas may develop after an injection of filler containing Hyaluronic acid. Granulomas are a collection of immune cells known as histiocytes they arise when the body perceives a foreign body and seeks to defend itself against it.
Fillers often also contain collagen. The source of collagen may be human, animal such as purified bovine (cow) and porcine (pig) collagen. The latter two, unlike human-derived collagen, require allergy testing. There is also hybrid form of two sources of collagen that is a mixture of bovine collagen and tiny plastic beads (homogeneous polymethylmethacrylate) called microspheres.
Collagen can be harvested from one’s own skin, after liposuction or another operation. It is then processed, sterilised and transformed into liquid. It can be kept for up to 5 years. Collagen can also be harvested from dead human bodies.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A consultation that defines desired results and sets expectations. The application of some numbing cream to reduce pain and discomfort during the injections. This is left to take effect for about 20 minutes. A short injection period lasting about 10 minutes.
BENEFITS OF DERMAL FILLERS
Plumper skin; fewer wrinkles; reduction in facial lines such as naso-labial folds and marionette lines; reduction in the appearance of eye bags. Hands, décolleté, neck and other areas of the body can also be treated.
POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES OF DERMAL FILLERS
The major side effect of fillers is swelling and redness post injection. Bruising often occurs. These side effects disappear in a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Allergic reaction is a major cause for concern and many fillers are contraindicated for anyone who has suffered anaphylactic shock in the past. Some experience the appearance of bumps and lumps in the treated area and may need to revisit their practitioner to try to correct the effects.