Cosmetic fillers are materials injected underneath the skin to make it fuller. After an injection, the plumper skin shows fewer wrinkles and looks younger.
Injectable cosmetic fillers have been around for decades. In recent years, medical advances have brought new versions of this wrinkle treatment to the marketplace. Newer cosmetic fillers are longer lasting, even permanent. But be sure to do your homework before heading to the cosmetic surgeon.
The Birth of a Wrinkle
Skin is held tight and smooth by three critical components: collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin. These chemicals combine to create a firm, spongy meshwork under the skin surface. This elastic structure keeps the skin surface smooth and firm.
With age, this meshwork slowly loses its integrity. With weakness in the underlying support structure, the skin's surface loses its perfect baby-skin smoothness.
Injecting cosmetic fillers helps fill the thinned-out meshwork. The fillers plump up the tissue underneath skin, shrinking wrinkles. The skin becomes firmer, smoother, and younger-looking.
Collagen is the oldest and best-known cosmetic filler. Newer natural and synthetic products are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Bovine Collagen Fillers
Bovine collagen is processed from the skin of cows. Approved in the 1980s as a wrinkle treatment, bovine collagen is still widely used as a cosmetic filler.
Bovine collagen is effective and less expensive than other treatments. It can cause allergic reactions, so allergy skin testing is generally done before beginning the injections.
The body naturally breaks down injected collagen, so you need to get collagen injections two to four times per year to maintain results.
Human Collagen Fillers
Human collagen, made from cultures of human cells, became available in 2002. Human collagen causes dramatically fewer allergic reactions than bovine collagen, so skin testing is usually not needed. It is more expensive than bovine collagen, and injections also need to be repeated every three to six months.
Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
Hyaluronic acid is a natural part of skin. With age, you have less of it in your skin.
Various natural and synthetic hyaluronic acid (HA) products are available. In the newest products, the HA molecule is modified to break down more slowly. Cosmetic results can last nine months or longer. Allergic reactions are very rare.
Fat Injection Fillers
Ever wish you could move that fat from your thighs to somewhere it might look a little better? Fat injections involve removing small amounts of fat from the thighs, belly, or buttocks and injecting it under the skin of the face. The fat expands the skin, shrinking wrinkles. Because it is your own tissue, there can be no allergic reaction. Results vary and are sometimes permanent.