Dermal Fillers Overview

Dermal Fillers, also known as injectable fillers, are used to smooth lines and wrinkles and add volume to targeted areas of the body, particularly the face. Examples of popular fillers include Restylane, Botox, Sculptra, and Juvederm. These dermal filler products fill in facial wrinkles or augment the size of the lips or cheeks by adding volume underneath the surface of the skin. They work in several different manners, including stimulating the body’s natural production of collagen (a key structural element in the skin) and creating a framework onto which the body can build natural tissues. Depending on the filler selected, the results may last anywhere from six months to five years or longer.

Are You a Good Candidate?

Injectable dermal fillers may be right for you if you have noticed lost facial volume, with skin that has begun to sag into wrinkles and fine lines. This treatment may also be a good option for patients who wish to increase the size of their cheeks, chin, or lips.

Most candidates are 30 to 65 years old and are looking to reverse the signs of aging, although these are also popular treatments for patients whose concerns are not related to aging. The skin issues most commonly treated include:

  • Nasolabial folds (lines extending from the edges of the mouth to the nose)
  • Marionette lines (extending downwards from the corners of the mouth) and smile lines
  • Sagging, sunken, or hollow cheeks
  • Skin depressions such as acne scars
  • Increasing the fullness of the lips

The Different Types of Dermal Fillers

There are several types of soft tissue fillers made of a variety of materials. Each has been developed for a different purpose; discuss the options with your doctor to determine which is right for you. Options include:

  • Calcium Hydroxylapatite or CaHA (sold as Radiesse)
  • Human-based collagen (such as CosmoDerm, CosmoPlast, and Autologen)
  • Bovine-based collagen (Zyderm or Zyplast)
  • Fat transfer (using fat cells removed via liposuction from another area of your body)
  • Hyaluronic acid (Restylane, Juvederm, Perlane, or Hylaform, among others)
  • Poly-L-Lactic Acid (or Sculptra)
  • Polymethylmethacrylate Microspheres, or PMMA (sold as ArteFill)


This minimally-invasive procedure takes an hour or less in the doctor’s office. Depending on the ingredients of the filler, an allergy test may be required a few weeks before the actual injection to rule out potential allergies to the filler.

Many dermal fillers contain lidocaine, an anesthetic, to reduce discomfort related to the injection. In other cases, a topical or local anesthetic may be applied, although it is usually unnecessary. The doctor may first mark targeted areas of the skin, depending on the goals of the procedure. Then, the filler material is injected through a thin needle to fill in lines and wrinkles. Patients may leave the office immediately after the injection process, and the treated area does not require bandages.

Complications & Risks

Although dermal fillers are considered to be safe, minimally-invasive procedures, there are a few risks that you should be aware of before undergoing treatment. Potential complications include:

  • A temporarily ‘over-filled’ appearance, lasting for several weeks
  • Asymmetry
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Lumps or nodules of dermal filler material underneath the skin
  • Migration of the filler material away from the injection site
  • Temporary skin numbness

In addition, it is important to recognize that the results are not permanent. Over time, the injected filler will be absorbed the body, and the results will fade.

Recovery Time

Dermal fillers are often referred to as ‘lunchtime procedures’ because of the limited downtime required. Most patients are able to return to their normal daily routine immediately following the short procedure. Potential side effects last one to two days, and may include swelling, redness, or minor bruising. Some of the results may be apparent immediately after the filler is injected, while the full effects can take several weeks or months to appear, depending on the material injected.

Cost of Dermal Fillers

The cost of injecting dermal fillers depends on the type of filler material, the amount needed, and the doctor chosen among other factors. In general, the more expensive forms of injectable fillers tend to be the longest-lasting, which can lead to lower costs over time. An average range for fillers is between $350 (collagen injections) to $1,500 (fat injections). Because these are cosmetic treatments, the cost is not usually covered by health insurance. However, many doctors offer payment plans or financing to make injectable fillers affordable.