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Cosmetic dermal fillers include collagen, hyaluronic acid, fat and other substances. Dermal filler brand names include ArteFill, Radiesse, Sculptra, Juvederm, Hylaform, Restylane and several others. Their main purpose is to add volume to specific areas, in order to eliminate wrinkles such as crow’s feet or enhance a feature such as cheeks and lips. Cosmetic dermal fillers are also used to reduce gauntness caused by illness or aging.
Below are frequently asked questions about cosmetic dermal fillers, with answers sourced from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. For information on specific dermal fillers, please click on the links in the menu at the bottom of the page. Also see our injectable fillers overview, with a handy comparison chart of the various brands of dermal fillers available in the United States.
ARE COSMETIC DERMAL FILLERS SAFE?
When prescribed by a properly qualified and trained doctor and injected in an appropriate medical setting, FDA-approved dermal fillers are safe.
WHAT POTENTIAL RISKS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH COSMETIC DERMAL FILLERS?
The greatest risk occurs when dermal fillers are injected by someone who is not properly qualified to perform injections. Risks include hematoma or blood pooling beneath the skin, and though rare, infection and necrosis (tissue death) or skin loss is possible.
An unsatisfactory outcome is also a risk. Semi-permanent and permanent fillers may clump: the particles form a granuloma or lump that can be felt or seen beneath the skin. Particles may also migrate or displace from the injection site. Injection of an anti-inflammatory may improve minor clumps or swelling. More significant clumping or granuloma may require surgery.
CAN I BE ALLERGIC TO A DERMAL FILLER?
Only dermal fillers derived from animal sources have a risk of allergy. This is something your doctor should cover during your consultation and the informed consent process. If necessary, a patch or allergy test can be performed. Injections will be scheduled several weeks later, after the risk of allergy has been evaluated.
ARE COSMETIC DERMAL FILLERS USED ONLY ON THE FACE?
Dermal fillers should not be used to rejuvenate the hands, injected into the breasts or injected into any part of the body other than the face. In select cases, a scar, cellulite dimple or other limited depression can be treated with FDA-approved dermal fillers for temporary improvement.
WILL I BE ABLE TO FEEL THE DERMAL FILLER ONCE INJECTED INTO MY SKIN?
In the first few days after injection, the treated area may feel a little firm; however, this should improve rapidly. But a risk does exist with semi-permanent or permanent fillers of particles clumping together and forming a granuloma that may be felt or seen under the skin. This risk is increased if the dermal filler was not injected properly.
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE MY RESULTS?
One advantage of most cosmetic dermal filler treatments is that they are temporary. If you don’t like the results they will diminish in time. A hyaluronic acid-based filler like Restylane, Juvederm or Perlane can be more rapidly diminished (in weeks, rather than months) with the injection of a substance called hyaluronidase in the treatment area. This substance decreases the viscosity of the original injection, promoting its absorption and dispersion.
ARE COSMETIC DERMAL FILLERS IN USE THAT ARE NOT FDA APPROVED?
Substances that are not specifically approved as dermal fillers for cosmetic purposes and that are not properly branded and defined as dermal fillers approved by the FDA could represent a risk to your health.
IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT FOR COSMETIC DERMAL FILLERS?
Dermal fillers for cosmetic purposes should not be administered to anyone under 18.
CAN DERMAL FILLERS BE USED ON SKIN OF COLOR?
Hyaluronic acid fillers, like Restylane and Juvederm, are appropriate for skin of color, as these are colorless gels that should not be visible under the skin or alter the skin color.