How Do I Choose the Best Facial Filler?

Nicole Etolen

A facial filler is a special material typically injected beneath the skin to increase volume or diminish signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. There are several different types from which to choose, and determining the best type depends on your desired effect, allergies to certain substances, and personal preference. Learning more about your options can help you make an educated decision when you talk to your dermatologist about the best type for your needs.

A facial filler may help correct acne scars.
A facial filler may help correct acne scars.

Collagen, one of the most common and oldest facial fillers, is a naturally occurring protein that is found throughout your body. It supports your skin, joints, and bones. The type of collagen used in dermatology is typically harvested from cows, so if you are opposed to using animal-derived products, you may want to choose another option. About a month prior to receiving collagen injections, your dermatologist will need to do a skin test to make sure you are not allergic to the substance, as collagen harvested from animals carries some risk of causing a reaction.

Fillers may be used to mask the appearance of small depressions in the skin, including acne scarring.
Fillers may be used to mask the appearance of small depressions in the skin, including acne scarring.

If collagen harvested from cows causes an allergic reaction, or you are opposed to it for other reasons, human-donated or autologous collagen drawn from your own body is another option. Using autologous collagen facial filler significantly decreases the risk of allergic reaction because it doesn't introduce a foreign substance to the body. During the procedure, your doctor removes a piece of your skin, usually on your lower hip, extracts the collagen, and uses it to make an injectable facial filler.

Hyaluronic acid may be injected into the lips to achieve a plumper appearance.
Hyaluronic acid may be injected into the lips to achieve a plumper appearance.

Fat harvested from your body is another option that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. If you choose this route, your dermatologist will use low-powered liposuction to remove fat from your thighs or buttocks and process it into an injectable facial filler. While this process can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it is most effective for correcting facial scarring, including scars caused by acne. The majority of the fat is reabsorbed by your body within months after the procedure, typically leaving behind just enough to achieve the desired effect.

Collagen is one of the most commonly-used facial fillers.
Collagen is one of the most commonly-used facial fillers.

If you are looking for a facial filler to add contour to your lips, hyaluronic acid is a potential option to consider. This substance is naturally found in your body, where it primarily provides cushioning and lubrication to your joints and eyes. The type used in dermatology comes from roosters, so again, if you are opposed to animal-derived products, it is not the facial filler for you. Hyaluronic acid injections can cause pain and burning at the injection site, and because it is derived from an animal source, it is a potential allergen.

A facial filler may help diminish signs of aging, such as wrinkles.
A facial filler may help diminish signs of aging, such as wrinkles.

Several different types of synthetic facial filler with proprietary ingredients are also available. The synthetic ingredients are created to mimic naturally occurring substances in the body, and may cause fewer allergic reactions than fillers derived from animal sources. The dermatology industry is constantly evolving and creating new options, so talk to your dermatologist for the most up-to-date information regarding the best type of filler for your needs.

Hyaluronic acid injections may cause pain at the injection site.
Hyaluronic acid injections may cause pain at the injection site.
Facial wrinkles that are caused by aging frequently appear around the eyes, mouth and on the forehead.
Facial wrinkles that are caused by aging frequently appear around the eyes, mouth and on the forehead.

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