What are dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers are a minimally invasive procedure to help reduce facial lines and restore volume and fullness to the face.
How do they work?
Aging affects both the top layer of skin and the soft tissue layer beneath it, called the dermis. The dermis provides both volume and structural support to the skin above it. Dermal fillers are injected into the dermis to provide volume and fullness.
What can dermal fillers do?
Dermal fillers can:
- Plump thin lips
- Enhance shallow contours
- Soften facial creases and wrinkles
- Improve the appearance of recessed scars
- Reconstruct contour deformities in the face
- Decrease or remove the shadow of the lower lids
They can also help in the early signs of aging as well as provide fullness in conditions like HIV associated lipo-atrophy (wasting of the face due to HIV)
Am I a candidate for dermal filler?
You may be a good candidate for dermal fillers if you:
- Are physically healthy
- Don’t smoke
- Have a positive outlook and realistic goals in mind for the improvement of your appearance
- Are committed to maintaining good skin health
How long does the treatment last?
This depends on the type of dermal filler implanted. The duration is anywhere from 6 months to 3 years for a temporary dermal fillers or indefinitely for a permanent dermal filler.
What are the types of dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers differ in the longevity, chemical make-up and softness. Temporary fillers are commonly used in first time patients while permanent fillers are utilized in carefully selected patients. Softer fillers are used in the lips while hardier fillers are commonly used in the cheek bones.
The common temporary fillers include hyaluronic acid, collagen, poly-l-lactica acide and calcium hydroxlapatite. Common permanent fillers include polymethylmethacrelate (PMMA) microspheres, hydrogen polymers, autologous fat (patient’s own fat cells) and liquid injectable silicone.
It is important to note that fillers vary widely and cannot be blindly interchanged. Your surgeon will determine with you the best type and volume of filler needed for your particular areas of concern.
What can I expect?
A dermal fillers procedure includes the following steps:
- Facial assessment and mapping: the surgeon will evaluate the areas of the face to be augmented and take photographs and mark the sites.
- Cleansing and anaesthetizing: this involves removal of any make-up, cleaning the face with an antibacterial product and applying anaesthesia so that the procedure is tolerable.
- The injection: the injection is a few moments per site with evaluation and massaging following after.
- Clean up and recovery: once the results are deemed satisfactory, any markings are removed and an ice pack applied to reduce any swelling.
What is the recovery time?
Recovery time varies for each patient and for each type of filler injected. You can resume most activities right away, but it is generally recommended that you avoid intense physical activity for the first 24-48 hours to minimize swelling and bruising. Be sure to discuss your specific recovery plan with your doctor prior to scheduling your injections.
What are is the risk and safety profile of dermal fillers?
Your initial appearance after treatment with any dermal filler may include:
- An “overfilled” appearance to treated areas
- Swelling or bruising ranging from mild to severe
- Temporary numbness or redness
- Palpable lumps or hard areas at the injection sites
- Hypersensitivity reaction that can seem like an allergic reaction with hives and swelling
Most conditions can be alleviated with topical icing and massage and will improve within a matter of hours or just a few days. Some reactions may require more aggressive treatment with medications or injections. Be sure to discuss your recovery and treatment plan with your surgeon.
What can I do to improve the recovery period?
Post procedure care to reduce the risk for unintended migration of the filler after injection
- avoid massaging injected areas,
- refrain from strenuous cardiovascular or other highly physical activity for at least six hours after treatment, and
- sleep with the head elevated for one night.
The content on the Nairobi ENT website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.
- Small, Rebecca. “Aesthetic procedures in office practice.” Am Fam Physician 80.11 (2009): 1231-7.
- Dickey, Ryan M., et al. “Noninvasive Facial Rejuvenation. Part 2: Physician-Directed—Neuromodulators and Fillers.” Seminars in plastic surgery. Vol. 30. No. 03. Thieme Medical Publishers, 2016.