A lot of people have written to me recently enquiring about fillers, so for this weeks column I have focussed on some of the most frequent questions.

Q. What are dermal fillers?

A. Dermal fillers are soft, gel-like substances that are injected under the skin. They can address a number of common concerns including smoothing of deep under eye circles, lifting of cheekbones, volumizing of lips and nasolabilal (the creases that run from the side of the nose to the corners of the mouth).

Q. What are dermal fillers made from?

A. The most common compound used in dermal fillers is hyaluronic acid. This is a naturally occurring substance found in our skin, which helps to keep it hydrated and volumized. There is a wide range of light hyaluronic acid-based fillers on the market.

Q. What is the difference between botox and dermal fillers? 

A. Probably the question I’m asked most frequently! The simple answer is that botox freezes muscles and fillers “fill in” areas that have lost volume and smoothness.

Botox contains purified bacteria that freeze muscles. It reduces the appearance of lines & wrinkles caused by facial expressions. It only works on wrinkles caused by muscle movement. The most common areas treated are the forehead and the “11” between the brows. Generally the effects last for 3 to 4 months.

As I’ve said above fillers add volume and fullness to areas such as the lips, cheekbones, wrinkles under the eyes and areas in the lower face. 

Q. How long do fillers last for?

A. The longevity of fillers depend on many factors, such as product, lifestyle, area of the face and even injection technique.Fillers are lasting longer and longer thanks to improvements in technology and results can last anywhere from 9 to 24 months before the filler is gradually absorbed by the body.

Q. Are there any side effects?

A. Today’s dermal fillers have come a long way since the first-generation of collagen injections. Advanced injection techniques, coupled with the use of micro-cannula (blunt needle) and improved product safety means that significant side effects are extremely uncommon.

Common side effects can include:

• Bruising

• Bleeding

• Swelling

• Lumps or bumps

• Itching

Q. How long does swelling last after dermal filler treatments. 

A. Each individual is different. It depends where you get the treatment. Generally speaking if you have a treatment for the jawline & chin there is little or no swelling, however there can be swelling if filler is injected into the lips .

Major swelling typically lasts less than 4 days, whilst minor residual swelling can last 14-21 days.

Q. How soon will I see the results?

A. Typically results will be noticeable instantly after the treatment and improve as the swelling settles. The full results will be visible after 2 to 3 weeks. 

Q. Do fillers make your face sag?

A. When a filler is injected, it stretches the skin slightly, filling out sagging skin and tissues that have been weakened over time. However, in most cases, after the effects of the filler fade, the skin will revert to the way it looked before the treatment.

Q. Do dermal filler treatments hurt?

A. Many fillers contain lidocaine, a mild anaesthetic that helps minimise pain during and after treatment. However, some patients do feel a little discomfort during treatment. This can depend on which areas are treated, and how much filler is used.

Q. What age can you start getting fillers? 

A. Technically anyone over the age of 18 years can be administered the treatment. From a medical view fillers can be used at an early age for those with a congenital defect, post-traumatic asymmetry correction, non-surgical rhinoplasty or post-acne scars correction. 

I personally recommend my clients to start filler injections only when obvious indications occur, normally that can be between 29 to 35 years of age. And I mean in reasonable and modest volumes.