Dermal Fillers: What to Know Before You Try

Dermal Fillers: What to Know Before You Try

Dermal fillers are particularly popular because patients see differences in their appearances before leaving her office, Dr. Kim says. Generally, people notice the desired changes from other non-surgical procedures, like Botox, after a few days.

One thing to note: Dermal fillers are not FDA-approved for body contouring procedures. In other words, they shouldn’t be used to increase the size of your breasts or butt.

4. What precautions should I take before getting fillers?

It probably goes without saying, but safety should be your top priority when considering any medical procedure. Dr. Kim says visiting a board-certified dermatologist or a board-certified plastic surgeon is one way to ensure that your physician is experienced. This extra certification step shows that the doctor completed additional training in their particular specialty. (You can find a board-certified specialist by visiting The American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Academy of Dermatology websites.) Even though dermal fillers are available at medical spas, you should see only licensed and trained physicians for any injectable treatment. There are risks for issues like infection, discoloration, and lumps if injections are done incorrectly.

Given that this is a cosmetic procedure, you understandably want to be satisfied with the results. One way to find a doctor whose work you like is by asking friends who have had this done for their recommendations. “People are starting to be more open about injectables,” Ava Shamban, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles, tells SELF.

5. What should I ask my doctor during the consultation?

“I think as a patient you should always ask for a consultation first and then really talk about what your goal is and how they [the doctor] can help you,” says Dr. Kim. You may think you just want dermal fillers, but an expert could recommend another treatment—or a combination of treatments—based on your specific skin type and goals. For example, your doctor may suggest using laser therapy if you have a lot of pigmentation, she says.

Dr. Shamban advises requesting before-and-after photographs of real patients from the doctor’s office. Every practitioner has different philosophies, techniques, and levels of experience. And don’t be afraid to ask about your doctor’s training and certification during the initial consultation.

Lastly, you and your physician should communicate about realistic results and your expectations—it’s your face, after all.

6. What are the possible side effects of fillers?

Even non-surgical procedures have their risks. The most common side effects include bruising, redness, pain, or swelling, all of which should go away within two weeks, according to the FDA. Less frequently, people might get raised bumps under their skin that need to be treated with injections, medications, or even surgically removed, according to the FDA.

Although this is rare, filler can accidentally be injected into a blood vessel and lead to blurred vision or permanent blindness. You should call your doctor or the emergency room if your skin turns blue and you’re in a lot of pain—these are two possible signs that filler is in your bloodstream. Again, this is why you want to see an experienced doctor who is skilled in performing the procedure.

7. Who should avoid dermal fillers?

According to the FDA, there’s no research showing that dermal fillers are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding people, so you may want to hold off if you’re expecting a baby or recently had a child. And here’s one more thing to consider: Avoid getting filler right before a teeth cleaning or other dental treatment, Dr. Shamban says. These procedures require pressure and stretching of the face that could potentially misplace fillers. You can ask your doctor for their opinion regarding when it’s safe to get any future dental work during your consultation.

8. How much do dermal fillers cost?

If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you see a deal for inexpensive filler, be skeptical. “You have to be careful,” Dr. Shamban says, adding that counterfeit and diluted filler do exist. “Ask to see the box, and look for a safety seal on it.” The price of these fillers varies depending on the amount of product needed. In 2019, the average cost of hyaluronic acid fillers was $652 per syringe, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. They estimate that most patients need more than one syringe to achieve the results they’re looking for.

9. Are dermal fillers permanent?

If you’re unhappy with the way filler looks, don’t panic—in most cases, you can have it adjusted. A dermatologist might inject additional filler for balance, or they can dissolve it altogether, depending on the type. “The wonderful thing about hyaluronic acid fillers is that there’s an enzyme that can be injected into the area to dissolve the product,” Dr. Shamban says. “It just goes away.”

But when expertly injected, filler should look natural. “The changes we can make are so subtle that nobody would notice,” says Dr. Shamban. 

10. How long will the results last?

Since the majority of fillers aren’t permanent, you’ll have to keep going back to the doctor’s office if you love the results following your procedure. After about six months, your body naturally breaks down hyaluronic acid fillers. So, you have to get touch-ups once or twice a year to maintain the look. However, this is good news if you just want to try fillers once or twice, since the effects will fade away without any long-term risks.

Additional reporting by Melissa Matthews


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