What You Should Know Before Getting Facial Fillers
Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on January 13, 2022
Types of Facial Fillers
Synthetic gels are the most common facial fillers. There are different brands, but they’re grouped by the natural body substance they mimic. This includes calcium hydroxyapatite, and hyaluronic acid, a sugar protein that attracts water. Some are stiffer and puff up your skin more than others. Unlike other fillers, autologous fat injections call for surgery because they take fat from another part of your body.
Know Before You Go
Facial fillers involve a medical procedure. Schedule a consultation to check out the facility and ask questions. You’ll be more relaxed if your treatment is on a different day.
Each state has rules for who can give facial filler shots. Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or ophthalmologist. Ask:
How did you become experienced in facial fillers?
Are you qualified to take care of any issues, no matter how rare?
Choose a Professional Setting
Get facial fillers done at a medical office. Don’t do it at a party, salon, spa, or someone’s house. Issues are rare, but they can happen, especially with someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Set a Goal
Think hard about what you want fillers to do for your face -- it’s not just about looking younger. You might want to get injections in stages so you can better direct the result. Ask your doctor for before-and-after photos. It’s important to know what success looks like.
Your face is a road map of arteries and veins underneath your skin. Bruising after an injection is normal. So are redness, mild bleeding, and discomfort. You’ll probably be a little swollen at first, too. Give it a week to settle in.
Even though most fillers copy natural substances already in your body, your body may not like it. Other risks include:
An itchy allergic reaction
An infection that feels warm to the touch
Inflammation may also make your skin darker, called hyperpigmentation. This can happen with all skin types, but it’s most often seen in patients of color.
Rare Side Effects
Dead tissue and blindness don’t happen very often. In each case, fillers block arteries and blood can’t get through. For both conditions, you’ll need help from a dermatologist or other medical professional right away.
Not A Cure-All
Facial fillers can add volume to your face, but they can’t change the quality of your skin. Talk to your dermatologist about treatment options if you have deep acne scars, etched-in lines, brown patches, or other skin issues.
What’s the Cost?
You’ll need one or two syringes, depending on your treatment area. Current average cost is $650 per syringe for a 1-year filler and $900 for one that lasts 2 years. Most fillers aren’t covered by health insurance because they’re considered cosmetic. If someone quotes you a price that seems too good to be true, the filler may come from an illegal source.
Tell your doctor about any medications you take, including supplements. Anything that thins your blood, like prescription drugs, aspirin, or ibuprofen, can make bruises last longer. Most doctors say you should stop blood thinners 2 weeks before an injection.
Don’t Wear Makeup
To lower your risk of infection, make sure your face is clean when you show up for your appointment. Your doctor will clean it again before your injection. You may have to wait an hour or so after the procedure to put on makeup. When you do, use clean brushes and new cosmetics.
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Alexander W. Sobel, DO, president, American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Bellevue, WA.
American Academy of Facial Esthetics: “Facial Fillers / Injections.”
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery: “Injectable Hyaluronic Acid,” “Dermal Fillers.”
American Board of Cosmetic Surgery: “Injectable Fillers Guide,” “Cosmetic Surgery Pricing.”
Louis Malcmacher, DDS, general and cosmetic dentist; president, American Academy of Facial Esthetics, Bay Village, OH.
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “Hyperpigmentation.”
U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: “Dermal Fillers in Aesthetics: An Overview of Adverse Events and Treatment Approaches.”
American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Fillers: FAQS.”