The term "facial fillers" refers to cosmetic or spa treatments and beauty products that literally fill in wrinkles and lines in your skin. The term covers creams and injections, all of which are referred to as "non-surgical procedures"... although injecting chemicals into your skin sounds pretty borderline surgical to us!
Botox, possibly the most well known injected treatment, works in a slightly different way to filler injections although the procedure is similar.
What is a facial filler good for?
There are various degrees of success with facial fillers, depending partly on which you go for, your skin type, and your skin's receptiveness to the product. But there's no denying that they can visibly and often immediately reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sometimes even quite deep lines in your face.
Filler creams are not necessarily the same as age-defying or anti-wrinkle moisturisers in that they may not offer preventative treatment. They may only intend to act as a kind of Polyfilla, resurfacing your skin. They offer immediate but temporary results. The effects of injected fillers last for up to 9 months.
The results of using facial fillers, both creams and injections, can be quite stunning and take years off you in a single stroke.
Some injected fillers, such as collagen and Perlane, can also be used to plump up and reshape areas of your face, such as lips, cheeks and noses, and fill in scars.
Some injected fillers are also used in another procedure to treat people with excessive perspiration.
Before you go
If you're using a filler cream, the only preparation recommended is to wash and exfoliate your face. The filler will gloss over your wrinkles and form a smooth base for foundation.
If you're having an injected filler, you should get as much information as you can beforehand so that you are confident of the procedure.
Treatments can take up to an hour. Afterwards, you will be perfectly able to get on with the rest of your day but you may be a bit tender, red or swollen, so it might be better to have your treatment at the end of the day and go home afterwards to relax.
As with any medical procedure, make sure that you give your therapist as much information as you can about your health and any medication or treatment you are having. This includes if you are, or think you might be, pregnant.
Because of its increasing popularity, it would be easy to forget that facial filling is a medical procedure that should only be carried out by a trained professional. Be sure of someone's credentials before you let them inject chemicals into your skin.
If you've ever watched the Oscars, you'll have seen some very odd-looking celebrities with huge fish-lips parading the red carpet... so go easy and be careful. The effects of injected fillers can be so impressive that it's easy to get carried away and in this case you can easily have too much of a good thing.
What to expect when you have a facial filler
If you're using a filler-cream, you should simply expect to look smoother and less wrinkly. You can either apply it yourself, or you may have it as part of a facial or makeover treatment. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to take care which one you choose. If you're pregnant, look out for any ingredients that might be unsuitable, as you would with any product.
The experience is similar to going for any other healthcare procedure. You'll have an appointment, and your therapist should give you some information before you go in as to what is involved. This will be aimed at answering any questions you have and putting your mind at rest. The therapist should also ask you about any medical conditions you have (including acne), or have had, and for details of any treatment or medication you are receiving. The therapist should carry out a skin test. Some people have an allergic reaction to the chemicals and even a slight reaction means you should avoid treatment.
The person carrying out the procedure will put you at your ease and probably ask you to lie on a treatment table so that you are relaxed and still. Before they start the actual treatment, they may use a local anaesthetic to numb the area to be injected. Your therapist should keep you informed all the way through the procedure, explaining where she is going to inject, and how many injections she will carry out in what areas.
She will inject a very small amount of the filler into different areas of your face as agreed with you beforehand. Injections in the lips or around the nose are likely to be the most sore.
You may have some tenderness, bruising or redness for a while after the treatment. If you have a special event or occasion coming up, have the treatment a few days beforehand so that your skin has time to settle down.
When it comes to filler injections, you absolutely must go to an accredited medical professional: a nurse, doctor or dermatologist.
You may have some spots of redness where the needle has been inserted. You may even have some slight bruising after the procedure. Immediately after having a filler injection, your skin may feel a bit tender and a bit strange, but this will wear off within a few days.
Occasionally, people have a mild allergic reaction to the treatment: itching, puffiness or slightly bumpy skin. People who are prone to cold sores may get one afterwards. A very few people experience red lumps under the skin a few months later.
Different kinds of facial fillers
There are two main kinds of facial fillers: lotions and injections.
A range of branded products is available. including:
Sculptra is a polyl-L-lactic acid, which helps to stimulate the body's own production of collagen within the line or wrinkle, making the skin appear smoother and firmer.
Collagen makes up one quarter of the protein in your body. It acts as scaffolding, controlling the shape and structure of your cells. It helps in the healing process, as it makes sure that the blood circulates to all the cells of your body. Collagen occurs naturally in our skin and it helps to keep your skin firm and defined. As you get older, the collagen and elastin fibres in your skin break down, and your skin becomes less supple, developing lines and wrinkles.
A collagen injection supplements your skin's own collagen and smoothes out wrinkles, lines and scars.
Collagen injections are particularly effective for combating worry and frown lines between and around the eyes and on the forehead, acne scars, smoker's lines around the mouth, crow's feet, deep smile lines, dimples and scars.
It can also be used to give bee-stung lips, boosting and adding definition to the fleshy tissue in your face, such as lips and cheeks.
The collagen used in filler injections comes from cows and some people are allergic to it. If you have even a slight reaction to the skin test beforehand, avoid it. You may find products that don't contain animal fats, such as Restylane, are better for you.
Restylane is a filler injection used to reduce wrinkles and lines, and shape the skin on the face. It gives long-lasting effects. It is also used to enhance or boost the fleshiness of lips and cheeks.
Restylane is made of non-animal fats and is therefore often a good alternative to collagen for people who are allergic to animal fats. Restylane is derived from biodegradable hyaluronic acid, a substance present in all living organisms. It exists in the middle layer of human skin, the dermis. You may not need to take a skin test before you have Restylane treatment. However, there may be implications for you if you are pregnant, have a medical condition, or are receiving medical treatment. Always give as much information as possible to the person carrying out the procedure so that they can advise you whether it is safe for you to have the treatment. The treatment itself takes about half an hour and the effects are immediate.
This is a bio-degradable man-made version of the gel, hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in your body. Perlane is a non-animal product which claims effects that last twice as long as collagen.
Autologous fat grafting
Autologous fat grafting involves the therapist using the fat from one part of your body to plump up another part. This is unlikely to strike you as pleasant, but it is natural and more permanent as these cells won't break down so much over time as other fillers. It's also known as isolagen.