Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic Surgery Guide

Dermal and Facial Fillers

The first decade of the 2000s saw a big increase in demand for nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, likely as a result of a downturn in the economy but also as a result of advances in technology and a change in people's attitudes toward cosmetic procedures. More people recognize the benefits of dermal and facial fillers: they are much less expensive than surgical procedures and there is little to no recovery time.

Nonsurgical "facelifts" have the added benefit of prolonging the need for surgical procedures. For example, a woman might know that a surgical facelift is in her future, but she might want to wait until she reaches a certain age or stage in her life. In the meantime, dermal and facial fillers are excellent solutions to smooth wrinkles, combat loose skin and disguise puffiness or bags.

Types of Dermal and Facial Fillers

Several brand names are on the market:

  • Botox® and Dysport® (botulinum toxin type A)
  • Radiesse® and Radiance® (calcium hydroxylapatite)
  • Hylaform® and Restylane® (hyaluronic acid)
  • Autologous fat
  • Collagen

Each dermal and facial filler is designed for specific purposes, which are described below. All of them offer temporary results that can last from four months to two years; none of them takes more than an hour to administer; and with the exception of autologous fat, all of them require no downtime.

Find a Cosmetic Surgeon

All of the fillers on this page require the prescription of a licensed medical doctor. Use our Surgeon Locator to find a cosmetic surgeon near you who is experienced in these dermal and facial fillers. You will minimize your risks for complications by selecting an experienced and trained practitioner.

Botulinum Toxin Type A

Botox and Dysport are two brands of this injectable. They are not fillers. They are medications that are used to treat frown lines, "worry lines" and crow's feet. The effects of the procedure last four to six months. The medicine works by blocking nerve impulses, and results become apparent within a few days of the injections. Botox and Dysport do not prevent its users from smiling, looking surprised or making facial expressions; that is a myth.

Calcium Hydroxylapatite

Radiesse and Radiance are two well-known brands of this injectable volumizing filler. They are used to reduce the severity of nasal folds, frown lines and crows feet and to add volume to lips. This synthetic filler is designed to stimulate the body's production of collagen, which is a natural filler, thereby providing long-term effects. The manufacturers of this product state that the injections provide immediate results that can last up to one year.

Hyaluronic Acid

Restylane and Hylaform are two well-known brands of this cosmetic filler, which is designed to lessen the nasal-labial folds, forehead lines and smile lines, and is used to add volume to lips. Results from the injections are obvious immediately, and they last four to 18 months, according to the manufacturers' websites.

Autologous Fat

The biggest advantage of using the patient's own fat cells, taken from one area of the body and injected into the face, is that the filler is natural and not a synthetic product. Although the above dermal and injectable fillers are safe and come with minimal risks of complications, some people prefer to use their own fat cells. The biggest disadvantage of this procedure is that it requires one to two weeks of downtime before resuming normal activities. It is also more expensive.

The fat is harvested from the "donor" site, which the cosmetic surgeon and patient will discuss at the initial consultation. It is processed to remove impurities and then injected into designated areas of the face. The procedure is ideal for deep skin folds, wrinkles and frown lines. Patients will see some swelling and bruising following the fat transfer, and they may experience some asymmetry while the swelling goes down (especially if they sleep on one side of their face).

The effects of autologous fat transfers are temporary and vary highly in the lasting effects. Repeat treatments will be required.


Collagen injectables come from two sources: humans and cows (referred to as bovine collagen), and they have been on the market longer than most other fillers. They are used to combat frown lines, crow's feet and deep nasal folds. Collagen-based fillers last four to six months and are reported to have the most natural feel.

Choosing the Right Filler

Even more important than choosing the right dermal or facial filler is choosing an experienced and licensed medical doctor to administer the treatments. Discuss your options with a cosmetic surgeon, which you can find using our Surgeon Locator. He or she might recommend testing the dermal or facial filler in a nonvisible area to check for allergic reactions.

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