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Hyaluronic acid fillers: a complete guide

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Hyaluronic Acid Fillers: A Complete Guide

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is found naturally throughout the body. It is present in high concentrations in the skin where it provides structure and attracts water. This keeps the skin hydrated and looking young. With age, your skin begins to thin and looks sunken or sagging with the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.  Treatment with hyaluronic acid fillers can help reduce the signs of aging and give your skin a smoother, more youthful appearance.

What is injectable hyaluronic acid?

Injectable hyaluronic acid HA fillers are dermal fillers that reduce fine lines and wrinkles by adding structure and volume to aging skin. The effects of these wrinkle fillers are visible immediately.

Several different types of HA fillers are available. Each of these has unique properties that make them ideal for injections in specific locations. The type of filler treatment also determines how long the results last after the injections. Besides HA fillers, other types of fillers are available, such as Hylaform, lactic acid, and calcium hydroxylapatite.

Shallow, fine lines can be corrected with an HA dermal filler called Restylane Silk. Smile lines and other fine lines around the lips are best addressed with Juvederm Ultra, Restylane Silk, or Belotero. Restylane, Restylane Lyft, and Juvederm Ultra Plus are often used to treat nasolabial folds and marionette lines. If you have sunken cheeks, an augmentation can be performed using HA dermal fillers like Restylane Lyft or Voluma.    

How does hyaluronic acid work in fillers?

The dermal filler consists of a smooth gel that contains hyaluronic acid, which replaces the natural hyaluronic acid you have lost. By filling the spaces and correcting the volume loss, the dermal filler improves fine lines and wrinkles. The hyaluronic acid filler is also hydrophilic, meaning it attracts and replenishes moisture in your skin, giving it a smoother, younger appearance, and enhancing your natural beauty.

How long do hyaluronic acid fillers last?

How long the results of a hyaluronic acid filler treatment last depends on several factors, including your age, your skin type, and the location of the treatment. The type of dermal filler used (Voluma vs Juvederm vs Restylane vs Restylane Silk) also matters - these have different particle size and other properties.

For instance, dermal fillers for lines around the mouth may last for six months while those in the nasolabial folds may last for up to 12 months.  Some treatments like Voluma in the cheeks can last as long as 24 months. The results of the treatment are not permanent because the body slowly absorbs the dermal filler.

Benefits of hyaluronic acid wrinkle fillers

HA fillers are an FDA approved treatment to rejuvenate your skin. They give your skin a natural looking youthful appearance. They add volume to your skin, restore hydration, and stimulate collagen production. The treatment helps to diminish the signs of skin aging that occur from exposure to ultraviolet rays in sunlight and pollution.

Hyaluronic Acid Fillers vs Botox

Both hyaluronic acid dermal fillers and Botox are used to correct signs of aging in the skin. However, the two products work differently. HA fillers fill in or plump up areas of the skin that have lost smoothness or volume. Botox, on the other hand, freezes the muscles and stops the formation of wrinkles and fine lines caused by facial expressions. The results of a Botox treatment typically last 3-4 months. The result from dermal fillers can last longer, up to 12 months or more, depending on the type of fillers used. Because Botox and HA fillers work differently, they can be combined into one treatment for even better results.    

Are hyaluronic acid fillers bad for you?

HA dermal fillers like Restylane Lyft, Juvederm, Voluma, and others are generally considered safe. They are not bad for your skin. However, occasionally, side effects can occur from these HA treatments. Fillers are composed of a combination of natural and synthetic substances. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance. Therefore, one of the benefits of HA fillers is that they can be dissolved in case there is an adverse reaction or if you're unhappy with the results.

The important thing is to always get the injections of dermal fillers from a board certified dermatologist. This will not only ensure comfort during the treatment, but also reduce your risk of complications and bad outcomes.  

Do fillers ruin your face?

Fillers will not ruin your face. Hyaluronic acid fillers are safe and effective in the right hands. They are soft, gel-like materials that can correct some of the common signs of skin aging such as fine lines around the eyes, facial wrinkles and folds, sunken cheekbones, and volume loss or lines and wrinkles around the lips. They can also be used for rejuvenation of the hands.

HA fillers contain hyaluronic acid, a substance found naturally in the skin. The benefit of hyaluronic acid HA is that the results of this treatment look natural. You won't look like you've had work done.  

Things to know before trying dermal fillers

You should keep the following things in mind before you go in for  dermal fillers.

Always get treatment from a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. This will ensure your doctor is an official vendor for Juvederm Ultra, Juvederm Ultra Plus, Restylane, Restylane Silk, Voluma, and other filler products. If you go to a medical spa or other such establishment, there is a risk of getting a contaminated, expired, or fake product that can be dangerous. Clinics that offer prices for dermal fillers that are too good to be true often use unauthorized suppliers and unlicensed products to keep costs down.

It's important to have a consultation before you go in for hyaluronic acid fillers. The doctor will examine your skin and suggest the best way to rejuvenate it. Also, a health assessment is necessary to evaluate whether you are a good candidate for dermal fillers. For example, if you are being treated with blood thinners, there is a risk of bleeding if the needle nicks a blood vessel. Your plastic surgeon will guide you on preparing for your HA fillers appointment. You may need to stop taking the medication for a few days.      

When is injectable hyaluronic acid appropriate?

Hyaluronic acid fillers are appropriate if you want to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, lip lines, nasolabial folds, marionette lines, and volume loss in the cheeks.

Dermal fillers can temporarily improve your appearance with minimal side effects. They are a good choice if you want to see noticeable changes in your skin without undergoing any type of invasive or surgical procedure. You are a good candidate for hyaluronic acid fillers if you have good general health and are a non-smoker. Hyaluronic acid HA injections are appropriate for you provided you have realistic goals about improvements in your appearance and are committed to maintaining your skin health.

Who is not a candidate for hyaluronic acid?

If you are unhappy with the signs of age on your face and are looking for dramatic and more permanent results, hyaluronic acid fillers may not be the best option for you. Your doctor may refer you to a plastic surgeon for treatments such as a brow lift or face lift.

You may not be a candidate for hyaluronic acid fillers if you have active infection in the target area such as oral herpes. Uncontrolled diabetes or a history of allergies to injectable dermal fillers may also be contraindications (skin testing may be necessary if there is a history of allergy). Your doctor may ask you to delay treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Hyaluronic acid fillers need to be used with caution in people on blood thinners or immunosuppressive therapy. Last but not least, active smokers have a higher risk of complications from HA filler injections. Smoking can also impact the longevity of the dermal fillers.    

Is injectable hyaluronic acid painful?

Hyaluronic acid fillers are generally not painful. Most HA fillers come premixed with a numbing agent like lidocaine to minimize discomfort during the treatment.  Afterward, you may be given ice to apply to the treated area to ease discomfort and reduce swelling.

What are the complications or potential side effects of injectable hyaluronic acid?

The common side effects of hyaluronic acid fillers include:

  • Bruising/bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Bumps and lumps

Less common side effects include infection or blister/cyst formation. This is unlikely to occur if you get the HA filler at a board certified plastic surgeon's office.

Rare complications of hyaluronic acid fillers include allergic reactions, inflammatory reactions, scarring, and bluish discoloration of the treated area. Very rarely, the filler material can migrate from the injection site. Other rare side effects include vascular occlusion and blindness.  

How to prepare for hyaluronic acid fillers?

Hyaluronic acid fillers are a convenient, minimally-invasive cosmetic treatment that can fast track you to looking your best. Preparing for your dermal fillers can help you achieve the best results.

Before booking an appointment

First, do your homework and consult a board certified plastic surgeon or other expert who will examine you carefully and talk to you about how to best address your concerns. This consultation is important so that you fully understand the steps involved and have realistic expectations from hyaluronic acid fillers. Be sure to tell the doctor about all the medications you're taking, including supplements, and any allergies you may have.

Before your treatment

About a week before your filler treatment, you should stop taking any blood thinning medications per your doctor's medical advice diagnosis or treatment. If your doctor has prescribed any medications before to take the treatment, do that as advised. This may help reduce redness and bruising after the filler.

Before your appointment

One day before your visit to the plastic surgery or dermatology office, avoid excessive sun exposure as this can damage your skin or make it sensitive. Be sure to wear sunscreen and moisturizer if you step outside.      

What to expect during an HA filler treatment?

Before injecting the filler, the area will be cleaned. The doctor may apply a topical numbing cream for comfort. Many filler products contain lidocaine to minimize discomfort during the treatment. Your dermatologist will inject precise amounts of the filler beneath the skin. After the injections, you may be given ice to reduce pain and swelling.  

What can I expect after having injectable hyaluronic acid?

Depending on which hyaluronic acid product is used (Restylane, Silk Restylane, Juvederm, Voluma, etc.) and where the injections are provided (nasolabial folds, lip lines, under the eyes, etc.), you should be able to see natural looking results immediately after the treatment. Some people experience temporary redness and swelling, but this is usually mild and subsides over the next few days. There is no downtime with hyaluronic acid fillers. You can go back to work and normal activities immediately. Your doctor may ask you to take it easy and avoid strenuous activity, such as going to the gym, for a day.  

How much do hyaluronic acid fillers cost?

The cost of hyaluronic acid fillers depends on the provider (more experienced board certified providers typically charge more for their services). The location of the clinic also affects HA filler prices. Last but not least, the area being treated and the type of HA filler (Restylane, Juvederm, etc.) has an effect on the cost. In general, FDA approved hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane and Juvederm cost $650 for a treatment, which is comparable to the price of other fillers like Hylaform, lactic acid, and calcium hydroxylapatite.

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