Our cheat sheet on injectables options
Not sure if you should try injectable fillers? This handy breakdown of the different types should help you decide.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers (brand names include Juvéderm and Radiesse)
By far the most commonly used fillers, these can plump thin lips and hollowed under-eyes; fill facial wrinkles, acne and post-surgery scars; and fill creases such as smile lines (nasolabial folds) and “marionette” lines (which run from the mouth to chin).
“They can also be used on their own or in conjunction with Botox to soften the lines between the eyebrows,” says Arlette.
HA naturally occurs in the middle layer of your skin, keeping it plump and elastic. Although HA fillers are synthetically produced, the substance is nearly identical to the HA we produce naturally.
The fillers come in various formulations so doctors can target specific areas. More viscous (thicker) versions, such as Juvéderm Voluma, recontour the face, and lift and sculpt cheekbones, chin, temples and even the nose.
The pros: Results are immediate (and if you don’t like what you see, there’s an injectable “eraser” called hyaluronidase). It lasts from 12 to 16 months.
The cons: It doesn’t last as long for lips (five to six months). Also, “there’s a reasonable chance you could have a bit of bruising,” says Jang, especially if you have had injections around the mouth.
Made of tiny calcium-based crystals suspended in a water-based gel, it is used in the mid-face area, often for deep smile lines and marionette lines. The beads initially plump up the target areas, but also stimulate your body to produce its own collagen for a longer-term effect.
The pros: Radiesse typically lasts 12 to 18 months.
The cons: It can’t be used in thin skin around eyes and lips (where its crystals can sometimes be visible). It’s not reversible, so if you’re not happy with the results, you have to wait until it dissipates.
Originally used to treat gaunt-faced HIV patients, Sculptra is best for patients whose faces are thin and saggy, but who don’t want, or aren’t ready for, a facelift. Sculptra is a “stimulatory filler,” meaning it encourages skin to produce its own collagen over time. It is made of poly-L-lactic acid – same material used in dissolvable stitches.
The pros: Results can last two years or more.
The cons: You need a minimum of three treatments over several months and you won’t see a change for three to five months. It’s not reversible.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (for example, The Selphyl System)
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is less commonly used than the ones mentioned above. Introduced in 2009, it treats wrinkles, crow’s feet, scars, and neck and under-eye crepiness.
Doctors draw your own blood into a test tube and put it through a centrifuge to separate the platelets and fibrin from the blood cells. They then inject the platelets into your skin to trigger the growth of collagen and cells.
The pros: Since it is your own blood, it’s bio-compatible. Results can last a year.
The cons: It takes two to six weeks to see an improvement, and it takes a few treatments. It’s not reversible, says Arlette.
Autologous fat transfer
Also less commonly used, autologous fat transfer is a technique that has been around since the 1980s. Doctors extract fat from your thighs, buttocks or flanks, process it and then inject it as a filler.
The pros: Using your own fat eliminates the risk of allergic reaction or rejection by the body. It lasts six months minimum.
The cons: It’s more time-consuming and expensive because you have to undergo liposuction (to extract the fat). Not all the live fat cells will survive the transplant. There’s potential for swelling, discomfort and lumpiness. And it’s not reversible, says Arlette.
Non-surgical aesthetic treatment
Want to test injectibles, but want something more natural looking? There is a new category with boosters. Instead of “filling” the skin, restylane skin boosters use hyaluronic acid for even texture. This injectable gel hydrates the skin from within, to help improve the appearance of skin, including elasticity and overall smoothness. Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett says she uses it on patients of all ages – from the early 20s to the late 70s. The injections can be applied to the jawline, lower cheek, upper neck and back of the hands.
The pros: Suitable for a variety of skin types, this three step treatment program can either be used on its own or to compliment a current aesthetic treatment plan. Only after completion of the full program, results may last up to six months.
The cons: It may take a few sessions to see results, and the injections must be maintained for continued results.