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Injectable Fillers to Plump Out Old Skin

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 20 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Injectable Fillers Skin Treatment Skin

In today’s result-orientated society, injectable skin fillers which deliver instant results and require minimal recovery time are becoming one of the most popular anti-ageing and skin rejuvenating treatments on the market.

Ageing and the effects of gravity causes the skin on your face and neck to droop and sag, partly due to a natural decrease in collagen, a protein which gives the skin its elasticity. This sagging causes skin to develop folds, furrows, lines and wrinkles – although the tendency and severity depends on an individuals genes, diet, lifestyle (e.g. smoking) and exposure to environmental factors (sun damage).

In addition, the general use of our facial muscles to pull everyday expressions puts a further strain on the ageing skin, as well as habits such as consistently sleeping on one side of your face.

What Injectable Fillers Can Do

The loss of facial fullness and appearance of wrinkles are some of the earliest signs of ageing and these can be combated by restoring the volume of the face and softening the facial lines, via injectable fillers. Injectable skin treatments can help fight the signs of ageing in a variety of ways, including:

  • restoring facial contours
  • reducing wrinkles and creases
  • plumping up thinning lips
  • softening facial lines
  • improving the appearance of any scars

Types of Injectable Fillers

There are a variety of different types of fillers now available on the market, both natural and synthetic. Here are a few:

Collagen Fillers – this synthetic filler derived from bovine collagen has been safely used for over 20 years to restore facial fullness and soften lines and is still regarded by many plastic surgeons as the “gold standard” in injectable fillers.

However, its one drawback is its ability to cause an allergic reaction as it is a foreign substance and the human body is likely to reject it. The risk of allergic reactions can be minimised by pre-treatment testing, at least a month before you plan to have the injectable filler. Results from collagen injectable fillers usually last 3 to 4 months.

Hyaluronic Acid – this is a new option which is proving very effective and popular. Hyaluronic acid is a fluid that occurs naturally in our joints and so it has the advantage of being non-toxic and presenting virtually no risk of allergic reactions. It is used to plump out and add volume to lips, cheeks, chin and wrinkles all over the face, as well as deep facial creases such as nasolabial folds. Results usually last for 6 months or longer.

Human Fat – this is not so commonly used as it requires liposuction techniques to extract the fat before being able to use it as an injectable filler. However, like hyaluronic acid, it has the advantage of being a natural substance already found in your body and so does not present a risk of allergy or rejection. It can work extremely well for the hollow under the eyes, for sunken cheeks and for deep lines in the face.

Regardless of the filler chosen, it is usually injected using a fine needle that is inserted at several different points along the edge of the chosen site. There may be a mild stinging or burning feeling during the injection and some temporary puffiness afterwards, although you should be able to resume normal activities immediately after the injectable filler treatment. The puffiness will should gradually subside.

Risks of Injectable Fillers

The risks depend very much on the type of filler used – for example, fillers derived from a non-human source presents the risk of rejection and allergic reactions; other fillers which may contain microscopic, granular substances may coagulate and “clump” together over time due to the natural ageing process and normal facial movements. This can result in unsightly nodules or lumps under the skin.

Other possible complications include itching and swelling, skin rashes and acne-like eruptions, bruising, swelling and bleeding and skin redness around the injection site. Many of these side-effects are temporary and should usually resolve a few days after the treatment.

Very rarely, patients may experience a localised, inflammatory reaction due to hypersensitivity and this can occur 2 to 4 weeks after the treatment. However, these are generally self-limiting and should subside after about 2 weeks. Choosing a qualified, experienced surgeon and following the post-treatment instructions will greatly help to minimise any risks and complications.

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